jaws Child actor Jonathan Searle has been named police chief of Oak Bluff on Martha’s Vineyard, which is where the iconic horror movie was filmed.
Moviegoers may remember Searle as one of the children who swam in the pond with a cardboard flipper to play pranks on swimmers and tourists. The boys are arrested when the cops point guns at them, thinking they were the huge shark. Police Chief Martin Brody, played by Roy Scheider, was less than amused.
Searle is an islander and his father was also a police chief in Edgartown, reports Patch.
The children of ‘Jaws’ threw stones at each other during filming
Like many islanders at the time, Searle joined his friends and community in playing extra and small roles in Jaws. But having a group of island kids as extras may have been more than director Steven Spielberg expected at the time.
“There were so many kids that were extras on that beach and from every single town on the island,” islander Phil Regan shared in Martha’s Vineyard magazine. “At the time, the island was isolated enough that kids from one town generally didn’t know kids from another, so there were these town-versus-town rivalries. When they weren’t needed on camera, the Edgartown kids would gather on the Edgartown side of the State Beach canal, and the Oak Bluffs kids would line up on the Oak Bluffs side.”
“Then the two groups would start throwing stones at each other,” he continued. “Only children with very good arms can throw the rocks to the end. Eventually someone from production shut that down because we were making too much noise, and there were loose rocks falling dangerously close to all kinds of very expensive film equipment.”
The children of ‘Jaws’ remember filming an iconic scene
Other children joined the cast because their parents worked on the production. “Jini Poole always involved me and my sisters in her school plays. That’s how we ended up as extras,” recalled Beth Campbell.
“My mom took us to the beach every day along with Lynn Murphy’s kids, Brian and Lee, who were also extras. Jini was always on the beach when we got there, organizing all the extras, and they weren’t all human. At one point, I was asked to walk a dog down the beach to take a picture.”
“After a good number of takes, we stopped to take a break, and I remember Steven Spielberg talking about how they had already done the scene with Pipit and that maybe they shouldn’t overdo the whole dog thing,” he added. “They finally agreed that one dog and his disappearance would have a lot more impact without all these other dogs running around in every shot.”
Another child from ‘Jaws’ also works on the island
Searl is not the only one jaws child actor with a leadership position in the community. The ill-fated Alex Kintner was played by Jeffrey Voorhees, who today runs one of Edgartown’s legendary restaurants.
Like many kids, Voorhees was motivated to join the film for the cash. “My friends and I were told to sign up for Kelley House [in Edgartown] and they give you $40 a day,” he said in another interview with Martha’s Vineyard magazine. “We thought it was great. We were just kids, so we flew there, and we all checked in and left.”
“A few weeks later I got a call and they asked if I could come down and read some lines because they needed some speaking parts,” he recalled. “So I went down with a friend of mine. We read a few lines. They said, ‘Okay, we’ll talk to you later.’”
“A week later we got a call asking if it would be Alex Kintner in the movie,” he said. “They told me he would get $138 a day. When you’re twelve, that’s a lot of money. So I said, ‘Sure, I’ll do it.’”
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