Much has been made of the seemingly interchangeability of Jeremy and Jason London, the drop-dead-handsome, 24-year-old identical twins who have Hollywood calling. When Jason had to pull out of NBC’s acclaimed yet short-lived series I’ll Fly Away, Jeremy was hired to take his place. When PBS decided to film a finale to the canceled show, Jeremy was unavailable, so the producers called on Jason.
Nonetheless, one is struck more by the twins’ dissimilarities. Jason, known for his roles in Dazed and Confused and Safe Passage, is rail thin and brooding, retaining more of his native Oklahoma twang than his brother. Jeremy, younger by 27 minutes, plays recurring bad boy Griffin on Party of Five and appears more self-contained, possessing an almost too-good-looking quality made slightly dangerous by his mischievous, slate-blue eyes.
“I think, of the two, Jeremy is the gentler soul,” says Sam Waterson who met the Londons on the set of their first film, 1991’s The Man in the Moon. “They both impress me because their background was pretty tough and they’ve had to mature faster than most. They both have tremendous steel.”
When they were growing up in Oklahoma, the London brothers’ divorced mother, a waitress, moved the twins and their younger sister, Dedra, six times in 13 years in an effort to improve their life. (The children’s father, whom they see periodically, is a construction worker living in a small town south of Oklahoma City.) Their last destination was De Soto, Texas, a middle-class Dallas suburb, when the boys were in eighth grade. “We didn’t know how poor we were in Oklahoma, because everyone was poor and living in trailers;’ recalls Jeremy. “But De Soto was pretty snobby,” adds Jason. “The first day, I heard some kids making fun of another kid because he was wearing clothes from Wal-Mart … and all the clothes we wore were from Wal-Mart. I begged Mom not to send us back to that school.”
Eventually, the boys won respect from their classmates for their prowess in drama, speech and athletics. And their evolution from scruffy Okies to handsome young jocks did not go unnoticed by De Soto’s coeds. “Jeremy always went out with the hottest girls at school,” says Jason. “I was a little more shy, so I went out with the hottest girl at a neighboring school.”
But it wasn’t until a customer approached Jeremy during his afterschool waiter job at the Holiday Inn that he became truly committed. The woman told him he “had the look” and persuaded his mother to enroll all three children in an acting and modeling school in Dallas. Less than a year later, in 1990, Jeremy heard about a local open audition for The Man in the Moon. Jason, who had acquired a car with money from a construction accident that had severed the two middle toes of his left foot, agreed to drive Jeremy. Once there, Jason decided to audition as well – and landed the part.
“There were never any hard feelings about it,” says Jeremy, who was hired to be his brother’s stunt double for the film. “The important thing was for one of us to get in the door so the other could get his chance.”
Jason worked steadily (“three auditions, three jobs!”) and moved to Los Angeles in 1991. Jeremy’s break came the same year with a bit part in the television movie In Broad Daylight. The experience helped prepare him to replace his brother later that year on I’ll Fly Away. Then came Party Of Five and Griffin, a part that was written out last season before a letter campaign by outraged fans persuaded the producers to put him back in. “Jeremy is the kind of actor that when he’s onscreen, you don’t see anyone else,” says his co-star Jennifer Love Hewitt. “He’s so handsome, you can’t believe he’s so nice. I wish I had some love scenes with him.”
The brothers admit to no jealousy or rivalry between them (“no more than with any other actor our age.” says Jeremy) and adamantly defend their career choices. “I guess you could say I’m more in it for the art and respect, and Jeremy’s more in it for the money.” says Jason. Counters Jeremy: “My brother waits around for the right roles to come to him, which is fine. He also has big lulls between jobs. I think you have to get out and continually work for it. It comes down to your body of work, not whether it’s film or TV.”
All the professional success of the past few years has not come without some personal tragedy. Younger sister Dedra became pregnant at 16 and, just a few months after her baby was born, was killed in an automobile accident in Oklahoma in 1992. During that time, Jason lived with an actress who became pregnant. Though they didn’t marry, Jason is now the father of a 13-month-old girl named Cooper. Jeremy’s fiancée announced the end of their relationship when he got home from work one night; he claims she abruptly left wearing the $7,000 engagement ring he’d given her. “The negative side [of being a twin] is that it makes you co-dependent,” says Jason. “You’re used to sharing everything, and people take advantage.”
Though Jason feels pressure these days to keep working to support his daughter, both brothers are now in solid relationships and feel their lives have steadied a bit. “After Dedra passed away, I was pretty filled up with rage,” says Jason, “but I feel my Christian faith has helped get me through that.” For his part, Jeremy’s prescription is to not take life too seriously. “I remind myself that I’m not out there digging with my nails like my parents did,” he says, offering up a self-conscious smile. “I say, ‘You get to act for a living. You’re fortunate. So act like it.'”