Actor Bradley Bowen on combining martial arts with the film world

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Bradley Bowen was a karate and jiu-jitsu champion before a chance encounter found him standing in for George Clooney on a feature film. After being a background actor in several productions, he was upgraded to principal actor on a film and eventually earned his SAG card. Bradley has since appeared in TV series ‘Bloodline’ and ‘The First Lady’ and action film ‘Out For Vengeance’. He also worked as a producer on ‘The Flight’, which is currently in pre-production. Bradley may now be a full-time actor and producer, but his martial arts skills still come in handy…

How did you get into martial arts?

I started training in martial arts after I had been working on a construction site and had an altercation with a concrete contractor. I used a few choice words which he did not take kindly to. He choked me to the point where I was seeing stars, almost unconscious. This was the changing point. That night, I joined a martial arts academy and started my journey in martial arts. 

What were your accomplishments in the martial arts world? 

I feel my biggest accomplishment is learning the arts and becoming bully-proof. Martial arts is a lifestyle that makes for a stronger person both physically and mentally, and leads to a healthier lifestyle. I continued training, eventually winning the World Championships in Las Vegas, Nevada. After earning my Black Belt I was introduced to Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ). My biggest accomplishment as a jiu-jitsu fighter was traveling to Fortaleza, Brazil for an invitational. When we arrived at the event, it felt like the invitation was a setup. There were two paramedic trucks and a chain-link fence surrounding the mat. I lost in the final and ended up taking Silver. After multiple injuries I decided to quit competition. I currently hold a purple belt.

Photo credit: Kristia Knowles

How did you end up segueing into the film industry? 

There was a film crew in my hometown of New Smyrna Beach, Florida filming the movie ‘Tomorrowland’. A local talent agency found my name and contacted me to see if I would be interested in being a stand-in. I didn’t even know what a stand-in was. I showed up on set without a clue, and it turned out I was standing in for George Clooney! I had a blast on set. I ate like a king, was pampered like a princess and paid like a peasant. (The last part didn’t matter.) My mind started turning and eventually I found my way onto more sets as a background actor, through self-submissions. One day I showed up on set as a background actor for a low-budget film and was upgraded to a principal actor, earning my SAG card. After this, I  began pursuing acting as a full-time career.

What’s your life like now? 

After starting out in film and TV, I often found myself travelling to Atlanta, Georgia for productions. So I decided to move to north Georgia to be closer to the film industry. I’m happy that I relocated, because sometimes we get stuck in a comfort zone and life becomes stale. I enjoy the mountains, hiking, biking and camping. It’s like I’m on an extended vacation. 

Photo credit Speak Friend Films

What are you looking forward to in your film career?

I’m looking forward to landing that perfect role! One that encompasses my character, personality and skills. I’m working with an acting coach, honing my special skills and doing stunt training. It’s like I’m in training for a fight, and when I step into the arena I plan on walking away with a medal. 

Featured photo credit: Salar Zarza