Reporter: Ellie Mahan
December 1, 2022
During his senior year in high school, Jake Lockett acted on stage for the first time, playing Reverend Canon Chasuble in “The Importance of Being Ernest” in Aquilla High School’s 2003 one-act play. Lockett, who has now been acting professionally for 10 years, has come a long way since his first acting performance in his hometown. In his latest acting project, he joined the cast of “Chicago Fire” in the premiere episode of season 11, which aired Wednesday, September 21 on NBC.
Lockett spent his childhood in Aquilla embracing family and participating in the small town’s football, basketball, baseball and track teams. Since his dad volunteered for the Aquilla Volunteer Fire Department, Lockett saw the life of a volunteer firefighter up close at a young age. Little did he know, he would grow up to play a firefighter on an award-winning NBC series, “Chicago Fire.”
Lockett plays firefighter Sam Carver, who is a former classmate of Lieutenant Stella Kidd. Carver and Kidd, played by Miranda Rae Mayo, start off on a tense note due to the rivalry they had in the academy. Carver is introduced in season 11 as a man of mystery with an unexplained scar on his arm, who has to prove himself to Kidd.
Although Lockett is different from his character Sam Carver, he identifies with Carver’s work ethic.
Lockett said, “I relate to Sam in a few ways, but I think the main one is how willing he is to do the job, to do the hard work. One of my favorite things that I think was instilled in me because of where I grew up is how important it is to work hard and give it 100%. Sam has his own demons, but when he is on the job, he really gives it his all. He does everything he can to get it right and do the job to the best of his abilities. In fact, he tries to do the job better than anyone else can. That resonates a lot with me.”
Lockett learned the value of hard work at a young age. His grandfather taught him how to weld, and he has worked in a range of jobs. He managed his own lawn mowing service with help from his dad, worked in an automotive shop, built metal buildings, chopped cotton, worked cattle and drove tractors for local farmers.
Lockett has many family members in Aquilla, as that is where most of his mom’s relatives live. He grew up surrounded by people he loved in the rural lifestyle.
“We are a tight-knit group, and everybody knows everything, and it probably kept us out of trouble that way,” Lockett said. “There is so much power in having people you love close to you, and having that growing up, even though I probably didn’t understand it or know it at the time, it definitely was a real blessing.”
Lockett said that acting on “Chicago Fire” is a dream come true for him, and he is so glad that he found a career he is passionate about. After graduating from Aquilla High School, he went on to attend Texas A&M University, where he obtained a degree in aerospace engineering with a minor in German.
Lockett said, “I knew what I was good at and just made the assumption that that’s what I should do. Definitely if I look back on it, there are hints of me wanting to do this, but given that there wasn’t a clear path, I just felt like I didn’t have a way to do it.”
After he graduated from college, Lockett became a stress liaison engineer for Boeing in Seattle, where he realized that he wanted to find a way to make a career out of performing. He began singing at open mic nights and was able to land a couple of acting auditions. Lockett said, “Through those auditions, I just made my way and figured out, through some guidance of others, how to get into the business.”
Lockett’s first union booking was a comedic role in an episode of “Two Broke Girls.” Lockett has continued to work in TV and film with guest starring roles in “Masters of Sex,” “NCIS: LA,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Scorpion,” “SEAL Team” and others, including “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Community.” Lockett had a supporting role in the SXSW 2016 Audience Award Winner, “Transpecos,” distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films. He was also the lead antagonist in “Blood on Wheels,” produced by and starring James Franco, and he was the lead male protagonist in the indie feature “Lycan,” also starring Dania Ramirez and Parker Croft.
One of Lockett’s favorite aspects of acting is its spontaneity. He said, “There are a couple of things that really make me happy in life. One is being present and having present conversations with people, and the other is not exactly knowing what tomorrow holds, and there is a comfort in that unknown for me. That is something I feel like acting holds.”
Reflecting on his first acting experience playing a reverend in Aquilla High School’s one-act play, Lockett joked, “I had a pillow in my shirt, and I tried to make as many people laugh as possible.”
Lockett has grown by leaps and bounds as an actor since his first time on stage and since his first on-screen performance in “Hawaii Five-O,” which he enjoyed because it allowed him to travel to Hawaii and play a role with great depth. From his time as an actor, Lockett has grown to believe that the most inspiring, powerful performances come from being in the moment.
“Once you understand how to break down story and how to create story, it’s just about being present and connecting with the person that is there… For me, what I’ve learned the most is just trusting that if I am present with the other person and have done my homework, then the rest of the scene is done with the words. We’ll be present; the words will give us what we need to ride the current of the scene, and the scene will do its job,” Lockett said.
He continued, “The presence work is what really allows for that to be its most palpable and to be the most affecting, not only for the person in the scene with you, but for the people watching. That is what is magical. When you’re in a room, and you watch two people fully present in this imaginary world, fully committed, that is when the molecules tend to slow down a little bit, and you can hear a pin drop.”
Lockett finds working with people and connecting with them on a day-to-day basis very fulfilling, and “Chicago Fire” has been an opportunity for him to do just that. He said, “We get to do so many amazing things on this show. Every time I get to read a new episode, there is something new that I am excited about.”
Lockett said that Chicago has been an amazing city for him so far, and right now he is soaking up as much of Chicago’s snowy weather as he can. He will continue to appreciate his time in the city as he continues his role, which is shot on location. “Right now I really enjoy Chicago. I definitely would like to have some land back in Texas at some point, but right now, this is where it’s at,” Lockett said. “You kind of are where your roots are, and my roots are Texas.”
The mid-season finale of “Chicago Fire” season 11 will air Wednesday, December 7 on NBC at 9/8 p.m. Central. Lockett’s character Sam Carver will be heavily featured in episode nine, and the audience can expect to learn more about the Sam Carver character going forward.
Lockett said, “One of Sam’s things is that he has a fiery temper, and to get the job done, he is willing to go above and beyond. Sometimes that can backfire, so we get to see him test those limits a little bit of what he can and can’t do.”
“Chicago Fire” airs weekly on Wednesdays at 9/8 p.m. Central. Fans can now binge-watch shows from all previous seasons on Peacock, which will also be streaming episodes the day after they air on NBC.