Things you may not know about John Schneider:
He takes his coffee with honey. He was 17 when he auditioned for “The Dukes of Hazzard” but told casting folks he was 24. He moved from New York to Georgia at age 14 but considered it to be a move from the country to the city, not the other way around. (His family had lived outside of Manhattan and relocated to the Sandy Springs area.)
You can get to know Schneider, who now appears on Tyler Perry’s locally filmed series “The Haves and the Have Nots,” at 6 p.m. Friday at the Rialto Theatre in downtown Atlanta. After a reception and red carpet with stars such as Kerry Cahill of “The Walking Dead” and Dean Cain of “Supergirl” and “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” Schneider will screen his new movie “4:GO.”
See this site for the trailer and ticket information. (Oh, another thing you might not know about John Schneider? He’s launched his own movie studio.)
“I moved to Louisiana about four and a half years ago,” he said during an interview in Midtown. “Louisiana has always spoken to me and Los Angeles never did.”
He purchased a 50-acre site that once was home to a YMCA camp and it’s now home to John Schneider Studios. Movies he’s produced there, including “Collier & Co.: Hot Pursuit,” about a former race car driver who motors a familiar-looking orange Dodge Charger (minus any flag decals or musical horns) are available to stream online.
“I’ve always been tenacious. I’ve always had a big dream,” he said. “Why bother having a small one?”
Schneider was among the guests at the private party Tyler Perry held for the Atlanta premiere of “Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor” with Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Vanessa Williams, Lance Gross and Kim Kardashian (who attended that night with Kanye West). He enjoys embodying the role of venal and conniving Judge Jim Cryer on “Haves and Have Nots” and appreciates working with his visionary boss.
“To be working with him and learning from him – and getting paid for it?” he mused. “What I’ve learned from Tyler is you’ve got to be singular, you’ve got to be focused. You can’t run with anyone else’s vision.”
Perry runs a famously tight ship. During a recent visit to The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon to promote “Boo! A Madea Halloween 2,” he said he’d shot that and the original in five days each. (“Boo 2” is out Oct. 20).
While the “Haves” set is an efficient one, “There’s a tremendous freedom Tyler gives me with Jim Cryer,” Schneider said. (The judge takes his coffee with honey, you may have noticed.)
“I stick to the script, mostly,” Schneider said. “I had the freedom to make him worse.”
Sometimes he’ll overhear Perry watching a scene and quipping “Oh no you did not,” in reaction to Cryer’s wicked antics.
“You wrote him!” Schneider responds.
“You brought him to life,” is how he says Perry assesses things.
“I think because of that as a director I give people leeway,” Schneider said.
Off-screen, he is a co-founder of Children’s Miracle Networks Hospitals, which supports medical research and children’s hospitals nationwide, including Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He’s had a decades-long career as a country singer as well. But running his own show has been his long-term aim.
“Something happened when I turned 50. It was like, this is not the dream. This is not the goal,” said Schneider, 57. “That’s when Louisiana happened.”
His partner both professionally and personally is Alicia Allain, who he met in Atlanta right about the time he got served with his second set of divorce papers. His relationship with Allain gradually grew from collegial to romantic, although he’s still dealing with legal rigmarole.
“My second divorce has officially lasted longer than my first marriage,” he sighed.
Both he and Allain are excited about filmmaking in the age of downloads and smart devices, and their distribution model is less about filling theaters than connecting with audience members on the device, platform and timetable that suits them.
“I couldn’t imagine this is the ’80s or ’90s,” said Allain, who joined Schneider as the interview was wrapping up.
Friday’s event will give folks a chance to see Schneider’s work on the big screen. “4: GO” concerns a bunch of bad guys who get what’s coming to them.
“It’s odd. It’s quirky,” Schneider said. ” I wrote this to be, ‘sometimes in a perfect world bad things do happen to bad people.'”
It’s a dark comedy you’re not going to want to miss a minute of, he warned.
“My advice, especially for the men, before the movie starts, go to the bathroom,” he said. “You’re not going to want to get up.”