‘Jaws’ Actor Moves Into the Real Chief Brody Role on Martha’s Vineyard

Jaws child actor Jonathan Searle was named Oak Bluff’s chief of police on Martha’s Vineyard, which is where the iconic horror movie was filmed.

Moviegoers might remember Searle as one of the boys swimming in the pond with a cardboard fin to prank swimmers and tourists. The kids are busted when cops pull guns on them, thinking they were the massive shark. Police Chief Martin Brody, played by Roy Scheider was less than amused.

Searle is an islander and his father was also a chief of police in Edgartown, Patch reports.

‘Jaws’ kids threw rocks at each other during filming

Like many islanders at the time, Searle joined his friends and community in playing extras and bit roles in Jaws. But having a bunch of kids from the island as extras may have been more than what director Steven Spielberg bargained for at the time.

Roy Scheider fends off a blood thirsty shark while balancing on the tip of a sinking boat
Roy Scheider |Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

“There were so many kids that were extras on that beach and from each of the Island’s towns,” islander Phil Regan shared in Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. “At the time, the Island was isolated enough that kids from one town usually didn’t know kids from another, so you had these town-versus-town rivalries going on. When they weren’t needed on camera, Edgartown kids would assemble on the Edgartown side of the State Beach channel, and Oak Bluffs kids would line up on the Oak Bluffs side.”

“Then the two groups would start throwing rocks at each other,” he continued. “Only kids with really good arms could launch the rocks all the way across. Eventually, somebody from the production shut that down because we were making too much noise, and there were stray rocks hurtling dangerously close to all kinds of very expensive filmmaking gear.”

‘Jaws’ kids recall shooting an iconic scene

Other kids joined the cast because their parents worked on the production. “Jini Poole always had my sisters and me involved in her school plays. That’s how we ended up as extras,” Beth Campbell recalled.

“My mom would take us to the beach every day along with Lynn Murphy’s boys, Brian and Lee, who were extras too. Jini was always on the beach by the time we got there, organizing all the extras – and they weren’t all human. At one point, I was asked to walk a dog up and down the beach for a shot.”

“After quite a number of takes, we stopped for a break, and I remember Steven Spielberg talking about how they had already done the scene with Pipit and that they maybe shouldn’t overdo the whole dog thing.,” she added. “They finally agreed that one dog and its disappearance would have much more impact without all of these other dogs running around in every shot.”

Another ‘Jaws’ kid also works on the island

Searl isn’t the only Jaws child actor with a leadership position in the community. The ill-fated Alex Kintner was played by Jeffrey Voorhees, who today manages one of the legendary restaurants in Edgartown.

Like many kids, Voorhees was motivated to join the film because of the cash. “My friends and I were told to sign up at the Kelley House [in Edgartown] and they’ll give you $40 a day,” he said in a separate interview with Martha’s Vineyard Magazine. “We thought that was great. We were just kids, and so we went flying down there, and we all signed up and left.”

“A few weeks later I got a call and they asked me if I could come down and read a few lines because they needed a few speaking parts,” he recalled. “So I came down with a friend of mine. We read a few lines. They said, ‘OK, we’ll talk to you later.’”

“A week later or so we got a call asking if I would be Alex Kintner in the movie,” he said. “They told me that I’d be getting $138 a day. When you’re twelve, that’s a lot of money. So I said, ‘Sure, I’ll do that.’”

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