Is Jury Duty real

Extras and fake mirrors: How Jury Duty producers successfully pranked Ronald Gladden

This show was an OPERATION

Sob, the final two episodes of Jury Duty have officially been released on Amazon Freevee, meaning our time watching the mockumentary team behind The Office stage a fake comedy court case where all the jurors are actors—apart from one man who got pranked: Ronald Gladden, has almost come to an end.

Jury Duty producers tricked Ronald so flawlessly (with Barbara falling asleep, Todd sliding notes under the door and Noah getting blackout drunk) that viewers have been questioning whether the set-up was actually legit. Was Ronald in on it the whole time? Is Jury Duty even real?

The answer is yes, the prank was real. Ronald was totally in the dark. And Jury Duty’s director Jake Szymanski has opened up about some of the tireless and genius ways they managed to film the elaborate hoax without getting rumbled. This man is a genius.

Ok so, how did Jury Duty producers pull off pranking Ronald?

is jury duty real

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Ronald believed he signed up to be in a documentary 

One of the helping factors that allowed the production team to get cameras in place and microphones on the right actors was the fact Ronald believed he’d been chosen to take part in filming a documentary about Jury Duty. So, none of the stopping and starting to get the right shot would have altered him to the fact he was on a much bigger, crazier, TV show altogether.

Is Jury Duty real

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They planted hidden cameras and fake mirrors 

One occasion where the camera crew did have to hide was when Ronald and his fellow jurors went on their night off outing to Margaritaville.

“We had to build, like, Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville-themed camera blinds,” director Jake told Prime Timer.  “There were bamboo structures with mirrors in them. We were hiding cameras in scuba tank lighting fixtures…and then we also had to amplify the lighting in Margaritaville, at the table where everyone was sitting…so that we could see them on our zoom lenses shooting through fake mirrors.”

Is Jury Duty real

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Producers placed extras everywhere 

Although everyone on the jury, besides Ron, was a paid actor— those weren’t the only people employed by the network to be in on the joke. The security guard that scanned everyone in at the court house was actually a part of the production team (Kerry O’Neill) and literally every single person at Margaritaville was an extra, too.

“After we revealed to Ronald that he’d been on a show, and we said, ‘Everyone you’ve interacted with in the last three weeks has been an actor,’ it took him a long time to process that,” said Jake. “Like eight hours later, he just goes, ‘Wait, wait. So Margaritaville. What about those people who bumped me on the shoulder and said two words to me?” And they were actors.”

is jury duty real

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They gave some of the actors earpieces 

Obviously, even though the improv actors on the jury rehearsed how they thought Ron might react to each wild thing that happened in the courtroom, they couldn’t plan for every small move he made. So, loads of the best moments in Jury Duty were spontaneous. Meanwhile, producers kept control by giving certain actors earpieces and giving them instructions to keep some structure to the scene. Or pulled them for a chat during a toilet break.

“They’d go to the bathroom, or the documentary crew would say they had to do an interview with them and chat with them in the middle of the day,” said Jake. “And sometimes when I got to speak to an actor I would say, ‘I’m going to be zoomed in on you. Give me more reactions. I know you already played the scene. But say something else.'”

is Jury Duty real

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They got Ron’s girlfriend in on the joke 

To help the prank along, producers let Ron’s girlfriend know what was really going on with Jury Duty and she convinced him that his phone being taken away would be totally normal if the jury got sequestered because of James Marsden, which is why he seems so chill when it happens during filming. He was fully expecting it.

Is Jury Duty real

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They relied on Ronald’s great mood and character 

Since Jury Duty aired, everyone has fallen in love with Ronald (I’m talking slow-mo edits of his scenes on TikTok type of love). And, it turns out, producers were banking on his golden retriever energy that makes him such boyfriend material to get them through the show the way that they wanted it to go.

Director Jake explained they were looking for “a good person” who was going to “stand up for what is right” during the trial. “Ronald just surpassed all of our expectations,” he said. “How he cared about people and how he reacted to people: He was better than we ever could have hoped…He shows us the best version of ourselves.”

is jury duty real

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