There’s no crazier jury duty experience than Amazon Freevee’s Jury Duty series and its comedic cast of actors reacting to unsuspecting Ronald Gladden.
The comedy, which premiered on Amazon Freevee earlier this month, follows a group of prospective jurors go through the voir dire selection process and a civil trial. While early episodes appear like Jury Duty, helmed by Office producers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, is a reality TV show chronicling jury selection, most of the cast are actually actors except for one participant, who is unaware that everything is fictionalized.
Gladden, for his part, is a contractor by trade, who answered a vague Craigslist ad to participate in a documentary about jury duty. Little did he know that his fellow jurors are all performers, including James Marsden as a sensationalized version of himself.
“We called him The Hero throughout the whole thing because we were creating a hero’s journey for somebody,” the 27 Dresses actor, 49, recalled of Gladden during an April interview with IndieWire. “If I saw any signs that he was tortured or that he was uncomfortable, I was ready to say, ‘I’m out. Pull the plug.’ And I was serious about it. I can’t sleep at night if I know that I’m making somebody, who doesn’t know that any of this is fake, uncomfortable in any way.”
He continued at the time: “The challenge for me was that I was a point person for Ronald. It was essential that I had his trust, that we had good banter, that there was a friendship there. So, whenever I did something that he didn’t like or that he thought was really sh—ty behavior, I would then have to pull it back a bit and just be normal James to get back in his good graces. And then he would hopefully think, ‘OK. There’s a nice guy in there, he just kind of got carried away in that moment.’”
While the Jury Duty cast — including Marsden and Sex Lives of College Girls’ Mekki Leeper — had a rough script to follow, Gladden completely improvised his scenes based on spur-of-the-moment reactions to the over-the-top situations.
“I was just under the impression that this was going to be a behind-the-scenes look … or what it was like for jury duty,” the construction worker recalled to Access Hollywood in April. “So, I signed up for what I thought was a documentary. I didn’t really know what was going on until the end.”
Though Gladden was unaware that he was essentially being pranked on the Freevee sitcom, Marsden gushed that his TV costar made “comedy gold” without trying.
“[Ronald was] like, ‘Do I recognize you? I didn’t know from what?’” the Westworld alum recalled of the pair’s first Jury Duty scene during an April appearance on the “Chicks in the Office” podcast. “And I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve been in a lot of stuff’ and then I saw someone who was actually wearing socks that looked like it said ‘Sonic’ on it. Again, this is all just on the fly. … I’m just trying to think of a way in to talk about, you know, my stuff.”
Gladden, for his part, replied that he didn’t know Marsden was in Sonic The Hedgehog before retorting that he heard the 2020 film received bad reviews. “[It’s] comedy gold,” the Hairspray actor gushed on the podcast. “And then, I get to go, ‘Yeah, I mean a lot of people saw it, you should check it out, and then the next day he came in [and said], ‘Oh man, I’m sorry. I saw the movie last night. It was so great, you didn’t tell me Ben Schwartz is in it!’”
Marsden added: “He was actually hitting moments that were scripted before we even got him there.”
Scroll below to find out where you’ve seen the cast of Jury Duty before:
James Marsden (Self)
After a series of guest spots on various TV series, the Oklahoma native got his big break playing Scott Summers in 2000’s X-Men. He has since starred in many hit movies including Zoolander, The Notebook, Superman Returns, Enchanted, Hop, The Best of Me, Sonic the Hedgehog and Netflix’s Dead to Me.
Ronald Gladden (Self)
Jury Duty is Gladden’s debut acting role, in which he plays himself. The San Diego native works in construction.
Mekki Leeper (Noah Price)
The Philadelphia native, who is also a writer on Jury Duty, is a stand-up comedian best known for his role as Eric on Mindy Kaling’s Sex Lives of College Girls. Leeper also had a brief cameo in a 2018 episode of New Girl.
Edy Modica (Jeannie Abruzzo)
Modica’s acting credits include The Special Without Brett Davis, High Maintenance, Reveries: Going Deeper, Made for Love and Palookaville.
Susan Berger (Barbara Goldstein)
The New York native has appeared in many popular TV series, including Criminal Minds, Hunters, This Is Us, Station 19, Shameless and Veep. The Tragedy of Macbeth actress also had a four-episode arc on American Horror Story in 2016.
Maria Russell (Inez De Leon)
Russell portrayed Beth Halloran in Kristen Bell’s The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window after landing bit parts in Tacoma FD, Why Women Kill, Teen Wolf, Grey’s Anatomy and General Hospital.
Cassandra Blair (Vanessa Jenkins)
David Brown (Todd Gregory)
The Assistance alum is best known for his roles in I Used to Go Here, The Year Between and The Everything Now Show.
Pramode Kumar (Ravi Chattapodhyay)
The India native has been acting since 1989, landing roles in projects such as Starsky & Hutch, ER, My Name Is Earl, I Am Singh, Raising Hope and Birds of Prey.
Kirk Fox (Pat McCurdy)
The California native portrays Kenny Boy on Reservation Dogs. Additionally, Fox had small arcs on the likes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Black Monday, The Goldbergs, The Conners, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mick and Rush Hour.
Ross Kimball (Ross Kubiak)
Kimbell is best known for his acting gigs in Masterminds, Queenpins and Crisis. The Superstore alum has also appeared in episodes of Love, Champions, Alone Together and Chicago Med.
Ishmel Sahid (Lonne Coleman)
The That Girl Lay Lay star has also appeared in Cousins for Life, Best Friends Whenever, Kingdom, The Mindy Project, Is There Anything Nick Lachey Can’t Do? and Ladies Like Us.
Jury Duty is currently streaming on Amazon Freevee. The final two episodes drop on Friday, April 21.