Jack Ryan interview: John Hoogenakker discusses Matice and authenticity

Photo credit: Bjoern Kommerell -- Acquired via Persona PR
Photo credit: Bjoern Kommerell -- Acquired via Persona PR /

You’ll know John Hoogenakker for one simple phrase: “Dilly Dilly!” Now he’s taking on the role of Black Ops specialist Matice in Jack Ryan.

Most people have seen John Hoogenakker on their screens. He’s currently known best as the Bud Light King for his simple phrase “Dilly Dilly!” Now he’s taking on the role of Matice, a Black Ops specialist in Jack Ryan.

Recently promoted to series regular for the second season, you can expect a lot to come for the character. However, John is one of the most versatile actors you’ll ever see on screen, with roles in the likes of Colony, Empire, Chicago Fire, and so much more.

In an exclusive interview with Amazon Adviser, John shared what to expect from Matice in Jack Ryan Season 1, all about the aim to be as authentic as possible, and what “Dilly Dilly!” means to him.

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Hidden Remote: I can’t wait for Jack Ryan

John Hoogenakker: I know. It’s going to be fun. Everyone involved in it has been excited for a long time. We finished work on it over a year ago.

HR: Right? And the first trailer came out at the Super Bowl and Amazon has really ramped up its promo. Each featurette I’m like ‘C’mon, release it already!’

JH: Yeah, I think that it’s going to live up to everybody’s expectations and even surpass them. John [Krasinaski] is a really great fit for the role. We all know him from his work on The Office and we loved him as this easygoing good guy presence. It’s perfect for the role of Jack.

HR: I never watched The Office, but my husband did and he’s been worried in a way. He can’t see how Jim can become Jack, so it’s going to be fun to see how that works.

JH: It’s very much like Harrison Ford, who played the role back in the 90s. In pop culture, we knew him as Han Solo, who was, again, a lovable laid-back kind of guy. When we saw him in moments of intense danger action sequences, it really made your heart go out to this guy and wonder if he was going to make it. The beauty of the character is that he always surpasses expectations right in the moment. I think John kind of has that connection to a lot of TV and movie watchers out there.

JACK RYAN — Photo credit: Amazon Studios — Acquired via Persona PR
JACK RYAN — Photo credit: Amazon Studios — Acquired via Persona PR /

HR: So, were you a fan of the books and movies before you did this?

JH: I was definitely a fan of the movies. When they came out I was a kid so I, to be completely honest, I haven’t gone deep into the books. But Clancy as a writer and a creator of pop fiction is definitely part of our DNA.

HR: Your character is Matice, what can you tell us about him?

JH: Matice is a new character in this generation of the Jack Ryan story.

HR: I didn’t think I recognized his name, but I haven’t read all the books.

JH: No, he’s a new guy. He serves as a bit of a counterpoint for Jack. He’s got a Special Forces background. He’s one of those who has been in the special forces for 20 years and has been cherry-picked by the Agency and will show up in hot spots all around the globe and act as boots on the ground for the agency. That is basically the role that Matice plays in this generation.

Jack stumbles upon a network that is moving money around and he realizes that it’s connected to a bad guy who’s suspected of wanting to attack Americans abroad. That’s where Matice comes into the picture.

HR: What was it about Matice that made you want to go for this role?

JH: When I read him the first time soon, he just seemed to sound like my preset. I’m from North Carolina and he sounded kind of like my inner voice and the family members that I have, the people I spend holidays with. I just kind of felt I connected to him on a cellular level.

When I gave a read for the producers, I was just relaxed and didn’t really try to put much of a spin on it. I didn’t really lean into the Mr. Badass guy. I felt like the lines did the work and it felt like the reality of this guy’s history did the work without the actor needing to put a hat on it.

John Hooganakker
Photo credit: Bjoern Kommerell — Acquired via Persona PR /

HR: And it all paid off!

JH: Yeah, and it’s been so much fun. In my life, I’ve done a lot of physical and manual labor but this role has easily been the closest to manual labor I’ve done as an actor. It’s been, at times, very grueling but it’s never been unrewarding. It’s always been a great experience.

We’ve got to see some cool parts of the world. Last year we were in Montreal, Morocco, and France. Or I was. This year, we’re working on the second season and we’re working in Columbia. It’s really been a dream come true to do what you love to do and travel and see the world while you do it.

HR: So a hint there that you make it through the first season.

JH: I didn’t say that!

[Note: this isn’t actually a spoiler since John has been promoted to series regular for Jack Ryan Season 2, as Deadline reported back in May]

JACK RYAN — Photo credit: Amazon Studios — Acquired via Persona PR
JACK RYAN — Photo credit: Amazon Studios — Acquired via Persona PR /

HR: There’s a lot of talk about authenticity on the set and you just mentioned it’s the closest to manual labor. What’s the authenticity of the whole Black Ops been like for you on set?

JH: I’ve got to plug a buddy of mine, Kevin Kent. He was a career Navy SEAL. He’s one of those guys who gets brought in, he’s worked on a lot of Michael Bay projects, and if American service members are needed on film and they want to make sure they hit the mark, they’ll typically bring in people who have served in the past.

In this instance, Kevin is the main advisor on the show. Last year, when we were in Morocco, he was able to bring in several of his friends from the teams. These guys had all served out 20 years in the teams and they were the ones that I spent the majority of my time with, both on and off camera. We just had a blast. We got to hang out and listen to how these guys interact with each other on their downtime.

As far as the authenticity for the project itself, they were used in a great deal in the work we did in terms of the scenes. If we had a team going into the compound, most of the guys you’ll see are former team members. We spent a lot of time learning how to carry weapons and clear rooms and how to move as a member of the team.

It’s very important because a lot of people who read the Clancy novels have military backgrounds or are drawn to the novels because of the subject matter. The last thing we want to do is miss the mark.

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HR: I’ll admit, we look out for that every time we’re watching something.

JH: Yeah, and that’s Kevin’s job. He’ll make sure everyone hits the mark on each take. You walk over to him and ask him how it was. He’ll be like ‘check back over your shoulder before you move forward. Remember you guys are patrolling right now, so you need to look left and right, check your six, move forward and rifle should be below ready…’ because these are the types of things that if he’s watching a movie and the actor gets it wrong, immediately the movie goes down a couple of notches.

It’s been invaluable having him on the set and he’s one of the greatest dudes you want to hang out with.

HR: Did it take a lot of extra takes to get it all right?

JH: Yes and no. The time we spent training and working with them was beneficial when it got down to the nitty-gritty of filming scenes. But Kevin is given enough of a say in the process to where the directors want to consult with him to make sure they’ve got it right before they move on. If something does look inauthentic, we’re going to go back and fix it before moving forward.

Kevin also worked with John [Krasinski] on 13 Hours and a few of the other guys were with him on that show as well.

HR: Is there a lot of a feeling of 13 Hours in Jack Ryan with that in mind?

JH: I think that experience was monumental for John, interacting with service members and telling a story that is still very new and present for a lot of people here. I think it was beneficial for him and I’d be willing to bet that it forms his decision to do Jack Ryan.

That said, there was a lot of similar vibes, trying to get it right. Not to be basic cut-outs of the people.

HR: You’ve done so many different types of roles. Do you have a favorite or do you just like the variety of them?

JH: I feel very grateful to get to stretch into different parts of my own humanity in the different roles I’ve got to do. As far as a favorite one, the more challenging they are and the more they stretch me and the harder they may be work, the more beneficial they are to me as an actor and a human. I spent months learning Hamlet, which I got to play back when I was 27 and I’ve got to say I’m so blessed and blown away that I got to have that experience.

I got to play Willie Oban in The Iceman Cometh back when Robert Falls directed it. He would sit at the back and shout ‘make it bigger. I can’t see it back here’ and I’d have to go back and make it bigger and more intense and somehow keep it grounded. That one was a deeply satisfying experience.

But I do have to say, getting to work on Matice has been one of the most profoundly gratifying experiences as an actor. It’s been fun and an honor. It’s been a great experience.

HR: I’m going to move on your most recent role and something you’re probably most well-known for right now. I’ll just say ‘Dilly Dilly!’

JH: Right, yep! That’s going to make it onto my epitaph.

HR: What’s that been like for you? Do a lot of people recognize you for it?

JH: No! You know, honestly, I’ve been able to maintain a great deal of anonymity where that role is concerned. That’s been so much fun and we’ve got to see some cool parts of the world, too. The Super Bowl spots we did in New Zealand and I was able to bring my family out to get a bit of a road trip around the North Island.

We were in Spain in April and in Prague and the Czech Republic about a month ago. Honestly, it couldn’t be more of a polar opposite to working on Jack Ryan.

When we first got to Columbia, we were having a table read with some of the other guys in my group. I walked in the door and they were like ‘Dilly Dilly!’ So it has followed me but that’s totally cool. As long as people are enjoying it and get a kick out of it, that’s all that matters.

HR: Are there any more commercials coming out then?

JH: I guess you’ll just have to wait and see. We’re always coming up with new and funny ideas, so I think…I think you’ll have to wait and see is the best answer.

HR: They’ve now said that the line means nothing at all but does it mean anything to you?

JH: I think it’s a nod of approval. It’s a little like ‘Cheers!’ Basically, anything that’s been said or done, like a spread of goodwill.

Jack Ryan
JACK RYAN — Photo credit: Amazon Studios — Acquired via Persona PR /

HR: Okay, so my last question and it’ll put you on the spot a bit. If you could do any role, what would your dream one be?

JH: Hmm, so much for actors is like, we’ll be in Chicago in the dead of winter in nothing but a business suit outside. Or you’re running around in Morocco in full battle gear. I think I’d love to do a TV show where we film inside and I’m wearing comfortable clothes.

Honestly, there’s never a day when I get to show up to be an actor that I’m not just blown away by my good fortune to do the job that I asked the universe to do.

HR: It does look like a fun job.

JH: It is. It’s absolutely fun and that’s something we can never lose sight of. Wendell [Pierce]—amazing actor—told me, ‘man, this isn’t my quote but I’m going to give it to you. They pay us to wait and we do the job for free.’

You’ve got to keep it all in perspective. If you’re having a day where you spend 10 hours on set and only get to work 45 minutes, it’s all good because you’re on a set getting to do what you love. Honestly, the waiting is part of the game. It’s all positive.

HR: Thank you so much for your time!

Next. Everything you need to know about Jack Ryan. dark

Jack Ryan Season 1 drops on Amazon Prime Video on Aug. 31 worldwide.