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Hollywood's Jaeger creates buzz in Perrysburg hometown PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Thursday, 30 May 2013 10:36
PERRYSBURG - Well before actor and filmmaker Sam Jaeger started his talk, the downstairs meeting room at Way Public Library was packed and buzzing.
It's like old home week. That sentiment was expressed several times as people looked around while others hustled to set up more chairs to accommodate the 150 people who came to hear a talk by the hometown boy who wound up on television.
In town to visit his aunt and 96-year-old grandmother, Jaeger took time to talk about his work in Hollywood and meet with hometown friends and acquaintances.
The star of "Parenthood" and creator of the award-winning independent film "Take Me Home"  got his start in Perrysburg, and his former drama teacher Rob Gentry has the proof.
In introducing the 1995 Perrysburg High graduate, Gentry produced a VHS copy of one of Jaeger's early works, "Demonic Killer Garden Tools from Outer Space." Gentry noted he and fellow teacher Pam Williams are among the fictional victims in the movie.
He also recalled how he went to the Oscar-winning film "Traffic" to see Jaeger. Unfortunately Jaeger's scene had been cut. Such are the vagaries of the movie business.
Jaeger walked through his career, touching on the highlights, and the travails starting with "Eli Stone." "I want to show it just for the hair alone," he said introducing a segment for the show. "It looks like it grows in the scene."
"My career is not acting," he said. "That's the reward I get for (doing) 40, 50 auditions and finally getting a role like the big hair role in 'Eli Stone.'"
The confidence instilled by Gentry, Williams and his parents, Charles and LeAnne Jaeger, helped him during the down times. "When I got to California," Jaeger said, "I was a big pile of nobody but I still knew I had support back home."
He'd hoped that "Eli Stone" would be his breakthrough, but months after the show was canceled he found himself having a heart-to-heart talk with his wife, Amber Jaeger, about their prospects. At that point he figured they could stay in their house for about eight more months. Then he got the call to do "Parenthood."
The show is now headed into its fifth season. Jaeger said he anticipates his character Joel Graham will have a more prominent story arc.
He conceded he sometimes has a hard time living up to the standards set by his TV character. "Does my wife get angry at me because I'm not Joel?" he asked. "The answer is yes."
He described Amber Jaeger as "my secret weapon," whom he employed to full effect to make "Take Me Home."
He got into writing after reading so many scripts for auditions and wanting to make something that lived up to his standards. He's made a couple short films as well as the feature-length "Take Me Home."
"Take Me Home," in which he and Amber Jaeger star, took two years to film. It involves a cross-country jaunt in a taxi cab, and for a first-time director plenty of learning and complications.
He said when filming in New York City they got permits, but took liberties elsewhere. In Asheville, Ohio, the police were very suspicious of this yellow taxi with New York license plates and a camera affixed to the hood - "some kind of cannon," was how they saw it, he said - driving through town. The cast and crew were advised to leave.
And the project was hardly easy on Amber Jaeger who co-starred with her husband. To film one scene they drove around and around for 20 minutes while her character wept and wailed in the backseat of the taxi.
She stepped in poison ivy in one scene and ended up with a severe rash, including lesions. Filming went on. During one scene they had to film only one side of her face because of the rash, and then had to use computer-generated imagery to eliminate evidence of the rash on her arm.
And then she discovered she was pregnant. So her husband had to dress he in a loose dress and tell her "suck in the baby" during the filming of the last scenes.
It just wouldn't do for her to show up pregnant with another man's baby, Jaeger said.
The film went on to win awards a several film festivals. Jaeger is now starting to think about a sequel.
Jaeger urged the audience to support drama at Perrysburg High. "It was so formative for me."
That started in eighth grade when Williams recommended him for a part in "Fiddler on the Roof" at the high school.
Peggy Hawkins was his math teacher at the time. She doesn't remember if he was a very good math student. But he had the same personality on display Wednesday night.
"He was funny, easy going and mature," she said. Hawkins watches   "Parenthood," she said, not only because her former student is in it but because it's a good show.
When she sees him on screen, she feels "so much pride and is so happy," she said. "It's like one of your kids."

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