In high school, baseball was his everything. He lived and breathed the sport. Making it to the major leagues was the ultimate goal for John Paul Kakos, but after a series of injuries, he had no choice but to turn in the bat.
“I would practice for hours and hours trying to be good enough, but due to injuries, I had to take an entire season off during high school,” said John Paul who had posterior labrum surgery after tearing and dislocating his shoulder — a deal breaker for many young athletes. It was the second labrum surgery of his high school baseball career and he now had one on each shoulder.
A few months passed. The young athlete graduated with the Mountain View class of 2017, and he was ready to try something new.
“He came into the audition in a baseball uniform. I knew immediately he had the look I wanted for the character,” said Director Robert Eagar who called John Paul in for a second and third audition before casting him in the lead role.
Eagar admits the decision was a risk. John Paul had little experience compared to the well-seasoned cast members including Emmy Award winners Natalia Livingston and Rick Hearst, who were both featured on ABC’s popular soap opera “General Hospital”. But John Paul worked hard with the cast and crew to expand his skills, and Eagar’s risk paid off.
The film was a fifteen-years-in-the-making brainchild for Eagar who wrote, directed and produced “Full Count”.
In John Paul’s words, acting has presented him “a new life”. Since “Full Count”, he has played another major part in Stephen Beehler’s film “Brief Candle” (2019). It features a group of thespians rehearsing for a high school production of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. The film takes a harrowing twist, as the actors get so consumed by their roles, it’s hard to tell when the acting stops and when their real world begins.
And now that he’s had time to consider the significance, John Paul has noticed a few uncanny similarities between his life and that of Milton, the character he plays in “Full Count”.
“The character in the film goes through some unbelievable obstacles, and it seems like everything is against him. Honestly, I haven’t been through many of the things he goes through, but I do relate to him because I understand what it’s like to want something that badly,” John Paul said. “I went through a lot of the same frustrations as my character Milton. It was very frustrating because I knew I could play, but physically I was not able to.”
While it’s too early to tell if it was his ‘big break’, the film certainly boosted his acting career, opening an entire avenue of possibility for the young actor who was signed by one of the Southeast’s top agencies in recent months.
During the week, John Paul splits his time between studies at Kennesaw State University and taking acting classes at a local studio owned by Emmy Award winner Natalia Livingston, his former castmate.
“I actually go to her studio now, and my teacher is Rick Hearst. I’m learning a lot from him,” said John Paul who attends acting classes weekly. He has also been taking classes and received personal training with Rob Pralgo, another member of the “Full Count” cast.
Through its themes of setback, perseverance and faith, Robert Eager hopes “Full Count” will inspire audiences to believe in something bigger than themselves.
“It was by far the largest and longest production I have done. The fact that I wrote, directed, and produced the film it has extra special meaning to me” Eagar said explaining he named the film to draw a parallel between a “Full Count” in the game of baseball and a “Full Count” in life.
For the new launch in his career, John Paul thanks his family who provided transportation, support and encouragement as he auditioned in those first months after graduating from high school. He says he would never have gotten any of his roles if it weren’t for his dad, Paul Kakos, who worked as his manager, booking auditions and organizing logistics as he got started.
And as he begins a new phase of his career, he will count on his faith to find the perseverance to keep going.
“I’m so grateful for this new life I have. I’m doing everything for God, and I hope that my work will inspire others and make people feel they can overcome anything and achieve anything,” John Paul said.
“Full Count” is set to release in the summer of 2019, by the Buckhead Film Group and Reel One Entertainment. Visit the website via https://www.fullcountmovie.com for more information.