Lynette Peluso

With two hot new projects on the horizon, Johnathon Schaech is one to watch this summer.

Best known for his breakthrough role in Tom Hanks’ 1996 directorial debut, That Thing You Do!, Johnathon Schaech has carved out an intriguing career of projects ranging from art-house indies to hit horror flicks. With two promising new projects — Showtime’s buzzy drama Ray Donovan and 7500, the new film from The Grudge director Takashi Shimizu — now is a good time to get reacquainted with the 20-year Hollywood veteran.

American Way: Was there anything you learned from working with Tom Hanks that helped guide your career?
Johnathon Schaech: After I started working with other people, I looked back and thought about how he treated everybody. He was so professional and so specific about what he wanted. He’d always tell us that we could do no wrong. I started realizing that I could do a lot wrong. [Laughs] His one rule was that you’ve got to come to the set knowing your lines, and from there we would just play.

AW: Is it true that your Hush co-star Jessica Lange helped you overcome dyslexia?
JS: Yeah. I always thought I was autistic; reading-comprehension skills were not my best. But she took me under her wing and said, “Your instincts as an actor are brilliant, but you have trouble with the literary side. You need to start writing and comprehending how scenes are constructed.” I started writing every single day, and I got better and better while feeding this creative muscle.

AW: What can you tell me about Ray Donovan?
JS: Liev Schreiber plays Ray Donovan, a Hollywood fixer who shuts down some of the storylines we see in the National Enquirer before they get out. It’s got a ripped-from-the-headlines feel. I play a movie star, and he’s always taken care of me. I did something in my past with Ray’s dad (Jon Voight), who gets out of prison and comes after me. They’re really pushing the envelope with this show, and it follows Dexter.

AW: What’s the story behind the script you’ve co-written for Adam Sandler’s production company?
JS: In 1963, a West Coast baseball team made it to the Little League World Series, winning games in 13 different cities along the way. In each of those cities, their coach would rob banks to fund their travels. True story! Nine of the players on that team ultimately made it to the major leagues. I got the story from Rick Dempsey, who was a catcher for the Baltimore Orioles. We’re waiting to hear if [Happy Madison] is going to make it into a film, and we’re actively pitching a book now.