Now streaming on Amazon Freevee, Jury Duty is the unexpected hit series depicting what it's like to be part of the American jury process. But the conceit here is that the documentary-style show is fake, and the only person who didn't know it at the time was Ronald Gladden, an unsuspecting participant who thought they were reviewing a real case during the duration of filming.
While Gladden eventually learned the truth by the end, the show has become a hit thanks to its quirky humor and the breakout star's even-keeled, good-natured demeanor. Throughout the show, he remained surprisingly calm and often offered thoughtful reactions to the wildest moments, from James Marsden's increasingly bad antics to some unexpected interactions with the zany characters that made up the rest of their jury.
However, while speaking to ET, Gladden revealed there were a few times when he thought what he signed up for -- "a very serious behind-the-scenes look at what happens during the judicial process" -- was actually a reality-type TV show. But he never realized the full extent of it at the time.
"I mean, honestly, there were multiple moments," Gladden said, revealing that on the third day of filming there was an incident involving the paparazzi getting into the courthouse that led to a security guard getting fired. "And I turned to James and I was like, 'Dude, I'm on reality TV.'"
"That was the third day that we were filming and I didn't know this at the time, but after I had said that, I went into the bathroom and James ran into the control room and told them like, 'Hey, we gotta cut it way back. He's onto us,'" he recalled.
But when it came to having a camera always being on him, Gladden said it made sense at the time because that's when he was usually sitting next to the Westworld actor. "James Marsden was right next to me, so it was like, 'Yeah, you've got a Hollywood superstar right here. Of course, there's gonna be a camera on him,'" Gladden explained, adding that "it really helped throw that, you know, off of the scene of it [being fake]."
That said, Gladden recalled that he found it surprising that Marsden would be participating in the project, even if they had explained that he consented to being on camera during the process. "Once I realized who he was, I was like, 'This is a famous superstar. Why would he be doing this? This is a low-budget, going straight-to-local cable [thing].'"
When it comes to Marsden, who was playing a heightened version of himself, Gladden was relieved to know that wasn't really what the actor was like in real life. "There were days where I was like, 'Oh, my God. I love James. We're hanging out, we're having a good time,'" he said. "But then there were days where he was just too Hollywood and I was like, 'I literally do not want to be associated with him.' Like, I would literally walk away from the guy. I was like, 'I just can't do this right now. Like, this is too much, you know.'"
Now that the show is such a huge hit, and Gladden has become the internet's new favorite star, he reflected on how his life has changed since participating in Jury Duty. "The changes are still just kind of happening," he said, explaining that since he had signed a NDA, no one knew what he was up to the past year – and the series has just only been out a few weeks now.
That said, a few celebrities have already slipped into his DMs. "Without naming any names, yes," he teased, adding that he's getting tons of messages from fans as well. "I literally can't keep up… I'm sure there's so many people reaching out to me, and first of all, I'd like to say I'm sorry because I can't get back to you all. But like there's thousands and thousands of messages."
Not bad for a guy who volunteered for jury duty.
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