For the last three years, Jonathan Tucker has been on a journey while he was filming the TV series, “Kingdom.”
Tucker, who plays Jay Kulina in the series, recently wrapped up the third and final season.
The third season premieres at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 31 on AT&T Audience Network on DirecTV.
The series follows Alvey Kulina, played by Frank Grillo, who runs a mixed martial arts gym called Navy St. Gym in Venice, Calif., with his girlfriend, Lisa, played by Kiele Sanchez.
Alvey Kulina helps people workout and trains fighters along with his sons, Nate, played by Nick Jonas and Jay.
Jay has a drug and alcohol problem, but gets clean to start fighting again.
“This has been a journey,” Tucker says. “Every character has a public persona and a personal need and a fatal flaw.”
Tucker says Jay is on the journey of addiction.
“Fighting is the conduit,” he says. “He has some hurdles to get over. He’s looking for love and peace in his broken family.”
For three seasons, Tucker had the opportunity to train with Jackson Wink, as the MMA training facility handled training and the technical advising for the show.
“Yes, Coach (Greg) Jackson was our technical advisor,” he says. “Every fighter on the show are trained. All of our opponents in the show are a bunch of UFC champions. There was as much authenticity as we could get.”
Working on “Kingdom,” Tucker says playing Jay was an exercise that helped him grow as an actor.
“This character is tragically flawed and deeply sensitive,” he says. “He’s a dynamic young man who is looking to solve problems with all the wrong tools.”
Tucker has portrayed all types of characters during his career.
But what draws him to a project is the storytelling.
“With this show, I wanted to bring honor to this world,” he says. “You want to honor these characters. Jay is a wholly unique individual. He’s a reflection of so many people who are struggling with addiction. And he is trying to mend his broken relationships.”
Tucker says it was important to also bring a sense of dignity to the world of combat sports and MMA.
“To be able to paint it with a truthful light was important,” he says. “It’s not bloodsport for human beings. It’s an opportunity to come together as a family and be the best version of yourself in the most challenging ways.”
With his time on “Kingdom,” Tucker says it’s helped him get into the habit of working out.
He’s often travelling with his gloves, wraps, mouthguard and cups.
“It’s the easiest thing in the world,” he says of working out. “There is a combat gym in almost every major city or country.”
Tucker also visited the Duke City plenty of times while training for the series.
“I’m looking to push myself as an actor,” he says. “I want to spend more time training with Greg Jackson.”