From 'Ferris Bueller' to 'Major Crimes': Alan Ruck talks career

NOSELL

TNT
Wednesday, July 29, 2015 - 8:15pm

Alan Ruck … you might not know the name but you may know the voice, and you definitely know the face. Ruck is best known for his role in the iconic John Hughes film, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” as Cameron, Bueller’s existentially troubled best friend. Now 59 years old and having inhabited the film world for decades, one of his most recent projects was guest starring on Monday’s episode of TNT’s good-humored, high-intensity police drama, “Major Crimes,” as the incorrigible FBI Special Agent Jerry Shea. 

With a loyal but small fan base, “Major Crimes” is TNT’s continuation of “The Closer,” which went off the air in 2012, and stars Mary McDonnell as Sharon Raydor, captain of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit. The cast of the show has a certain effortless chemistry that I’ve found doesn’t exist for many crime dramas that are popular today. 

In Monday’s episode the LAPD investigated a murder associated with a young man’s alleged kidnapping, which FBI Special Agent Jerry Shea (Alan Ruck) had investigated in the past. He had even appeared on shows comparable to “Dateline” or “American Justice” as a specialist on the case, which both enlarged his already humongous ego and enraged his colleagues at the Bureau. To top it off, Shea had also written a novel based off the case under the pseudonym Guy LaFontaigne — and yes, that should be pronounced in a full-fledged French accent. 

“Yeah, he’s a jerk,” Ruck said of his character in a phone interview with The Michigan Daily. 

Lucky for the LAPD, the FBI “no longer trusts” Shea and sends him over to Major Crimes so that they may be distracted by his belligerent egotism while the FBI solves the case, takes all the glory, etc., leaving viewers in the LAPD’s office with a spectacular medley of personalities to enjoy. 

Having worked with leading actor Mary McDonnell, having met the episode’s director Paul McCrane and having met supporting actor Tony Denison here and there, Ruck said making the episode “kinda felt like a family reunion.”

“You really try to pray for parts like this,” he said of his role as Jerry Shea. “I am seriously middle-aged,” he continued, explaining that with a wife and two young children, he enjoys smaller roles that he can pour all of his effort into.  

When asked about how his role in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” has affected the rest of his acting career, he said it was “the best part I’ve ever had in a movie, surely,” and that he’s glad people still enjoy the film. 

Having grown up in Cleveland, Ohio, Ruck said he wanted to be an actor from a young age. The young Alan Ruck wanted to be just like his fellow Cleveland native, Paul Newman, that sexy movie star who didn’t make his first film until the age of 29. 

It just so happens that Ruck was 29 years old when he acted in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and after such a huge role, Ruck said he was simply convinced his career would be downhill from there. 

Having come to terms with what he called an up and down career, Ruck said he’s satisfied with where he is now, having some good work behind him and being able to continue acting. 

“Instead of being careful what you wish for…be specific what you wish for,” the actor said as a word of advice for young people. 

Monday’s episode of “Major Crimes” was a success. Ruck clicked with the cast seamlessly, adding splashes of humor and making it easy to believe that filming the episode was a sort of “family reunion.”