Born to a playwright and an actor, Jon Cryer’s fate as a performer was sealed from birth. However, being an actor and in the eye of the public on a regular basis can be a lot of work. Watching Cryer take photo after photo with admiring fans, his smile never once faded. Try smiling for an hour straight and see how unforgiving your facial muscles become. Cryer didn’t seemed phased by this at all, in fact, he wanted to make sure everyone received a fair share of his time.
For years he’s been making his children aware of inclusion by taking them to Shane’s Inspiration in Griffith Park, a playground in LA for kids of all abilities, co-founded by Scott A. Williams of TV’s NCIS. On this day, the organization was holding a Trail Run plus Walk & Roll event where Cryer was dubbed Grand Marshal.
After Cryer took the stage acknowledging the event and humorously thanked everyone for electing him Grand Marshal given his hard campaigning for the job, ABILITY chatted with him a bit.
We lived near the very first Shane’s Inspiration playground, and I brought my son when he was about a year and a half.
Of course, he loved the park, and as any parent who’s been to a playground knows, you’ve got time to kill. So I started reading the little placard outside. It said it’s a playground for kids of all abilities. All of a sudden, it dawned on me that most playgrounds weren’t, that most playgrounds didn’t include kids who were fighting various issues. Honestly, I hadn’t thought of playgrounds in those terms.
Cryer was quite stunned at the intention of this park. Sitting on two acres in Griffith Park, this playground is made accessible with its ultimate goal of inclusivity. And that was an “aha!” moment for him.
That touched me. Many years later, when I was working on NCIS, playing a character I really, really enjoyed, I got to meet Scott Williams, who wrote the episode. We got to talking about a million things, at one point he casually dropped the fact that he and his wife Catherine had founded Shane’s Inspiration, and I was gobsmacked. I was so grateful to them.
Having an enormous admiration for what had been built, Cryer remembered the name of the park and soon recommended it to all of his friends.
First and foremost, it’s a really fun park, and the influence of Shane’s Inspiration has been felt literally worldwide in terms of how playgrounds are made and whom they’re designed for.
It’s amazing how much it has grown since I first took my son. Originally there was just one playground here in Griffith Park, and now they have them all over the world.
Shane’s Inspiration parks have been built in many countries, and an announcement was just made regarding the construction of one in Moscow.
People the world over are realizing this is something that is needed, but people weren’t thinking about this when they were building places for children.
Whether you fell in love with his role as “Duckie” in Pretty in Pink or his award-wining character of “Alan Harper” on Two and a Half Men, he’s a dynamic performer with a career that began at a very young age. We were curious on how he felt about being asked questions he’s probably answered over and over again. And then Jon gave us a little history of how he got into acting.
You don’t become an actor hoping nobody will ever care about what you do.
You have to expect that to a certain extent people will be curious. That’s fine.