as of June 1997
Brad Johnson stars as Major Matthew Q. Shepherd, a retired
major from the armed forces who runs a decrepit hotel in Venice
Beach until he accepts an offer he can't refuse. He now leads
an elite crime fighting unit with his expertise lying in motivating
combat troops under fire and a mastery in the use of edged weapons.
The very rapid ascension of Brad Johnson to starring roles in
major films by major filmmakers can be characterized in one word...belief.
The belief of such film world giants as Steven Spielberg, John
Milius, Roger Corman and the bosses of Paramount Studios, established
the ruggedly handsome Johnson's star presence within two years
of his arrival in Hollywood.
The power of his presence can be measured, when Steven Spielberg
teamed Johnson with Richard Dreyfus and Holly Hunter in "Always." It was also evident when
John Milius selected Johnson to star with Danny Glover and Willem
Dafoe in Paramount's "Flight of the
Like some of the leading male stars of the past, Johnson's route
to stardom was dramatic, circuitous, and somehow predestined.
Born on a ranch near Tucson, Arizona, he followed in the footsteps
of his cowboy father and joined the rodeo circuit while attending
college on a baseball scholarship. He began rodeoing as a professional
and very quickly rose to the top in 1984. Even then there were
signs that a quick trek to acting was inevitable. A leading commercial
director, watching him wrestling steers and tangling with broncos
and brahma in Jackson, Wyoming, quickly spotted the same combination
of strength, appearance and character which had brought Gary
Cooper, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood to very special stardom.
The rodeo star was signed to a Busch beer commercial. Another
commercial director, catching the bone-crunching action of a
Nevada rodeo, made the same discovery, Johnson became the Marlboro
These spots resulted in his quick selection for a number of Calvin
Klein print ads and some noteworthy TV commercials which led
him to Los Angeles and a shot at the acting career that so many
of the commercial directors insisted was a natural for him. Within
three months of his arrival and the start of acting studies,
Johnson was discovered by the career-launching king of B movies,
Roger Corman, and set to star in "Nam Angeles." Spielberg
discovered him as well and cast Johnson in the coveted role of
the flier who replaces Richard Dreyfus in Holly Hunter's affections
The Spielberg film led Milius and Paramount to hurry him back
into the pilot's seat to star in the jet fighter adventure, "Flight
of the Intruder," a February, 1991 major release, and a
film eerily reflective of the simultaneously occurring Mid-East
crisis--even though the picture was completed before Sadam Hussein
became a household word.
Johnson has also had a number of successful outings on television.
His starring role as the title character in the CBS series, "Ned
Blessing: The True Story of My Life," earned him the Western
Heritage Award and an induction into the National Cowboy Hall
of Fame in Oklahoma City in March, 1994. The CBS telepic, "Cries
Unheard" which paired him with Jaclyn Smith, garnered very
high ratings as did "The Birds II" in which he starred
for Showtime. In addition, Brad co-starred in the TNT mini-series,
"Roughriders" with Tom Berenger, Sam Elliott, Illeana
Douglas and Gary Busey which premiered summer 1997.
One thing Johnson learned as a top sports star and rodeo winner
was the importance of self-belief. But, while possessing the
confidence of the natural athlete, he is philosophical about
it. "The difference between confidence and nothing to lose
can be very thin," he reasons.
Recently, Johnson and his family moved from their small, scenic
ranch in Texas to the Los Angeles area.
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