Judge Reinhold: In His Natural State
"The Judges Go Quail Hunting"
EXT. RURAL ARKANSAS FOREST – DAY
A shotgun is fired. It sounds like a popgun. JUDGE REINHOLD emerges from the woods.
JUDGE JACK HOLT follows with a belt full of birds and his two bird dogs, CHARLIE AND FRECKLES.
Judge, I can’t shoot any quail with this! Why’d you give me such a small gauge shotgun?
I had to protect myself, Judge.
JUDGE comes across his quarry. He looks down and sees a one-legged quail trying to hop into the tall grass. Jack makes every attempt to hide his laughter.
CHARLIE and FRECKLES look away sheepishly, mortified for JUDGE.
The above scenario is sadly, fact, and the characters are real. Next time you run into Holt, or Reinhold, have the decency not to bring this up. They’ll deny it … at least Reinhold will. The two Judges have hunted since. Jack Holt remains alive and well.
Born in Wilmington, Delaware, as Edward Ernest Reinhold Jr., Judge was nicknamed so by his father when he was just a baby.
“My father graduated top of his class from Harvard Law School. At that time he had a practice in Washington, D.C.,” Reinhold said. “It cracked him up whenever I would frown because I looked just like an old Judge who presided over a case of his, so at two weeks old, he nicknamed me Judge.”
In the late 1940s, Reinhold’s father purchased an antebellum plantation home circa 1760, outside of Fredericksburg, Va., in Caroline County. He bought it from a retired Navy admiral who’d painted it entirely battleship gray with surplus naval paint. “Even though it needed a roof, the first thing my father did was paint it white. He made it a beautiful home, overlooking the Rappahannock River, 10 miles from Fredericksburg,” Reinhold said.
As a result of his childhood in rural Virginia, Judge relates most closely to Mark Twain’s fictitious character, Huckleberry Finn. “One of my favorite pastimes was to take an old wooden rowboat out into the middle of the river. My anchor consisted of three milk jugs filled with rocks and sand. I would lie in the bottom of the boat, watch the sky go by, and hold onto a bamboo pole with a giant plastic bobber with a worm. Very rarely I would catch a really ugly catfish or perch.”
During high school, it was determined that Judge was “awkward and undistinguished on the playing field.” But after following a cute girl into acting class, he discovered a world that came naturally to him. “I felt completely agile and comfortable on the stage. My life was much simpler telling a story,” he said. “Whenever young actors tell me they want to be an actor, I think to myself, ‘Well if you are, then you will be.’ Acting is a vocation; you really don’t have a lot of choice.”
After attending Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg and North Carolina School of the Arts and performing at various regional theaters, he went west and began working in television in 1979. Since that time, Reinhold has worked in 92 different television projects or movies, including the iconic movies Fast Times at Ridgemont High (oh, how we love Bradley Hamilton!), Beverly Hills Cop I, II, and III, Ruthless People, The Santa Clause 1, 2 and 3, and most recently, Swing Vote. He has guest-starred on such sitcoms as Monk and Arrested Development and was nominated for an Emmy for his celebrated role as the close talker on Seinfeld. Two of his films are listed on the American Film Institute’s 100 Best American Comedies of all time.
“I’ve been blessed to stand in the back of the theater of maybe 10 of the films I’ve done and watch the audience all laugh together. It’s a mountaintop experience,” Reinhold said. Living in Los Angeles, however, has always proved a challenge for the man from Tidewater, Virginia.
“Culturally, L.A. is looking at itself in the mirror,” he said. “It’s the most socially skilled, yet relationally challenged place on the planet. As my father-in-law, Bill Miller, says, ‘In L.A. there are probably only two people you can trust. But around here, everyone will tell you the two people you can’t.’”
"We saw each other across a crowded church and were married six months later in Scott, Arkansas,” says Reinhold's wife, the former Amy Miller. “You never know when you’re going to find the right one.” The couple spends as much time here as they possibly can, enjoying the vast beauty Arkansas has to offer, getting involved with the community, and of course, visiting with family and friends.
“I really love my Arkansas family,” Reinhold said. “Amy comes from a long line of entrepreneurs and artists and she’s a great combination of both.” Amy’s maternal grandparents, Hewie and Rosalie Walker, had the first dry cleaning business — Walker’s Cleaners—in Arkansas right after WWII. Her mother, Reita Walker Miller, is an artist and member of both the American and National Watercolor Societies. Amy’s uncle, Rob Walker, is a fine artist and sculptor.
Her paternal grandparents, Carl and Francis Miller, started Refrigeration and Electric Supply Company in 1939. “Carl realized after selling iceboxes door-to-door that there’d be a much bigger demand for parts than new iceboxes,” Reinhold said. “My father-in-law has transformed the family business into a thriving wholesale business with eight locations statewide. Amy’s uncle, Carl Miller, Jr, is one of the leading preservationists in the country. His house, the Debrill House, was built in 1892 and has been on the National Historic Register since 1976. Bill accepted me into the family even though I’m an actor,” Reinhold joked.
On a more serious note, he said, “Personally, I’ve never backed away from any of my dreams. Sometimes they’re a burden, but I can’t seem to live any other way. Realizing dreams can be tricky. You’ve got to be determined, but also ready to let go if the situation isn’t right. You’ve got to be passionate, but you have to take each step with great care. If I have a motto, its, ‘The opposite of impulsiveness is inspiration.’”
The Reinholds’ Ideal Scenario Is
Doing what they love best in a place they love to be. In April of this year Gov. Mike Beebe signed Bill 1939 into law, creating incentives for digital product and motion picture productions. According to the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, the new Digital Product and Motion Picture Industry Act creates a 15 percent rebate on all qualified production expenditures in Arkansas. An additional payroll rebate of 10 percent will be granted for cast members and technical crew in the production who are full-time residents of Arkansas.
To qualify for the new incentive, a production company must spend at least $50,000 within six months in connection with one project, which isn’t a difficult feat even for a small budget flick.
This is good news for Arkansas because it will provide a number of film-production-related jobs and stimulate the local economy with money spent in the state by filmmakers in the process. And it could be good news for the Reinholds too, because now that it is financially viable, they will have the opportunity to bring their films to Arkansas rather than Louisiana, a state they said has generated more than $800 million in revenue due to its film incentive program.
“The projects we’re producing were created for the mainstream audience as pure entertainment, but we start from what we want to see ourselves,” Reinhold said. “There are many elements in the stories that reflect where we live and grew up — which is not New York and L.A. There is a vast, underserved market that seems to be continually overlooked by New York and Los Angeles. They call us ‘the flyover states,’ but that’s a lot of country to fly over.”
If we’re lucky, one day soon, we’ll be able to see some of the comedic films Judge and his lovely Arkansas wife are producing. We’d like to stand in the back of the theater with them as the audience erupts in laughter. We hear it’s a phenomenal experience, and one we wouldn’t miss for the world.
Favorite thing to do in Little Rock
Laughing at ImprovLittleRock, which performs primarily downtown at the Public Theatre, 616 Center St. one weekend a month from late fall through early summer. Shows are typically held around 10 p.m. “I’ve been very impressed by them. They’re first rate,” Reinhold said. Check them out on Facebook at ImprovLittleRock!. Their first performance of the season will be held the weekend before Halloween and will be improv wrestling. Wrestling costumes are encouraged.
Honorary Arkansas Chaperones
• Fishing legend, Jerry McKinnis
• Academy Award-Winning director, Ray McKinnon
• Former State Supreme Court Chief Justice, Jack Holt, and his wife, Jane
• Alana and Gary Newton-Brilliant actress/writer and Executive Vice President of Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce
Favorite music genre
"The Outlaw station on Sirius radio has changed my life. There’s a DJ named Meredith who’s one of the coolest people in the world."
"Creating our own stay-at-home film festivals with friends. Recently we did a Peter Sellers weekend. Road trips to just about anywhere, in any country."
"I talk on the phone. Real men don’t tweet."
Funniest Arkansas Encounter
Arkansas Fan: “You go to (so and so’s) convenience store, don’t you?”
Judge Reinhold: “How do you know that?”
AF: “Cuz I saw you on the surveillance tape. Jimmy shows it to everybody.”