By MIKE CHAIKEN
In the new web television series, “StartUp,” the tension and mood begins to crank up right after the opening credits of the first episode.
And as the series unfolds over the first episode and the next, the intensity doesn’t let up.
The main characters are introduced one by one. Their situations and plights are mapped out. And as the story proceeds, the storylines begin to cross… most times with explosive results.
“StartUp,” which goes live on Crackle.com on Sept. 6, is a thriller in the keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seats tradition. And the story—with every lead character a damaged human being—is a film noir for the 21st century.
Press materials explain “StartUp” is set in Miami and is “about the emergence of a brilliant, yet controversial tech idea centered around digital currency.”
Jocelin Donahue of Forestville plays FBI agent Maddie Pierce in “StartUp.”
Donahue, who graduated from Bristol Central High School, did not start out with any acting ambitions, she explained in a phone call from the West Coast.
When she was in high school, Donahue said she did not set foot in the school’s theater when she was in Bristol.
“I actually was not an actor growing up,” said Donahue. “I was captain of the cross country team and track.”
“My path (to acting) was kind of unexpected,” said Donahue.
She was attending college at New York University and she had several friends attending the film school there. They asked her to help them out by appearing in a couple of their projects. From there, liking her acting experience, she took a behind-the-scenes position as wardrobe assistant.
Her efforts in front of the camera—in this case a still camera—ended up being the key to open the door to a movie and now television career.
After NYU, Donahue said she did some work as a model for a photographer. Those photographs made their way to Los Angeles, and that led to her signing with an acting agent.
Eventually, Donahue found herself cast in the lead role of the critically acclaimed horror film, “House of the Devil.” (The film is about an ‘80’s-era babysitter fighting for her life. “The fans loved it,” said Donahue.)
Like most of her acting projects, Donahue found herself in “StartUp” by auditioning for the role. And Donahue said she wanted to be part of the series partially because the topic was original and it intrigued her.
The creation of an electronic currency not bound by banks or nations—the central premise of “StartUp”— was something that she already had been interested in prior to being cast for the show “My husband writes code and he’s interested in cyber currency,” explained Donahue. (To prepare for filming the show, she said her husband “helped me understand peer-to-peer currency… It’s a really cool concept.”)
Beyond the dimension of the cyber currency that drives story, said Donahue, she was attracted to “StartUp”’s “huge story” and the diversity represented in the criss-crossing storylines and the characters.
“It shows different aspects of society,” said Donahue.
For Donahue, one of the most appealing aspects of being cast in “StartUp” was the opportunity to work with the show’s headline star, Martin Freeman.
Freeman is probably best known for his work in the role of Bilbo Baggins in the “The Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy and “The Hobbit.” He also is recognized for his work in the role of Dr. John Watson in the British television series, “Sherlock.”
“Aside from the scripts being excellent, the opportunity to work with (Freeman) was a huge privilege,” said Donahue. “I’m a huge fan.”
“He brings an energy to this show,” said Donahue of Freeman’s role as a rogue FBI agent. Donahue said Freeman’s character is “unhinged” but “so smart.” As the story proceeds, she said, you don’t know what Freeman’s character is going to do next.
Besides the opportunity to work with Freeman, Donahue also said she was excited to be working with the other lead actors— Adam Brody (“CHiPS,” “The League”), Otmara Marrero (“Graceland”), and Edi Gathegi (“The Blacklist,” “Twilight”).
Donahue’s role as a law enforcement agent is a change of pace for an actress who first came to the attention of “StartUp’s” producer as a horror film actress. Donahue said she enjoyed the opportunity to play someone in authority rather than a victim.
Streaming web series have been gaining prominence in recent years with shows such as “Orange Is the New Black” and “House of Cards,” both on Netflix, building and keeping audiences.
Donahue said she feels a show like “StartUp” might not have gotten produced prior to the arrival of streaming websites like Crackle.
“It’s a new media and new platform,” said Donahue. Websites like Crackle offer the opportunity to tackle stories and ideas that might not have seen the light of day in days gone by on broadcast or cable networks.
At the point she was interviewed, Donahue said she still had not seen all 10 episodes of “StartUp.” She said she’ll get to see it the same time as the rest of the nation, which is Sept. 6, when it goes live on the website. Since Crackle is a streaming service, you can binge watch and see all 10 episodes of the series immediately.
Beyond “StartUp,” Donahue said she has other projects in the works. She has the lead in “Dead Awake,” opposite Jesse Bradford and Lori Petty, in which she plays twin sisters. She also has supporting roles in “Browse,” opposite Lukas Haas; and the film”20 Weeks” from director Leena Pendharker.
To view “StartUp” with Bristol’s Jocelin Donahue, go to www.Crackle.com starting Tuesday, Sept. 6