The killer glared at the woman he held bound and gagged in his garage as he extended his hand to clutch her throat.
That menacing onscreen predator was once a real-life Virginia police officer.
About a decade ago, Jim Klock gave up his career chasing drug dealers in Stafford County to hunt movie and television roles in Hollywood. There, he’s found himself playing a bumbling lead detective, a prosecuting attorney and even a serial killer.
Klock has appeared alongside Jamie Lee Curtis on “Scream Queens” and opposite Matthew McConaughey in HBO’s smash first season of “True Detective.” You may have seen him during football playoff telecasts last weekend. He’s the golf caddy for Peyton Manning in a Nationwide Insurance ad.
In a movie scheduled to be released this year, Klock will appear in his biggest role yet — a New Orleans prosecutor trying a boy for patricide in “The Whole Truth,” a movie that stars Keanu Reeves and Renee Zellweger. He also appears in a McConaughey film with a Civil War backdrop called “Free State of Jones” that is scheduled for a May release.
At age 40, the Fredericksburg-area native’s leap from patrol cars is paying off in big ways as his face flashes across more and more screens.
“My goal was always to make a living as an actor, a producer, a director,” Klock said. “The biggest blessing is I am making a living doing what I love to do.”
Behind the scenes, Klock is an executive for two small film companies and has financed and created his own pictures.
His image is clean-shaven and pressed, and he uses a disciplined approach to script a hectic life that is filled with hundreds of screenplays each year, planning film shoots to the second and preparing for his acting auditions.
But law enforcement and Virginia remain crucial to him. A few times a year, Klock returns to Stafford to serve as a volunteer officer and spend time with family, friends and his new wife.
“It’s my home. It’s just a place for me to come back and just for a little bit, I’m grounded,” Klock said in a recent interview. “And I still love being a part-time cop.”
Klock misses a lot about being a full-time officer — the shooting range, hand-to-hand combat training and grateful looks from victims he helped. He really misses foot chases through Alexandria alleys and finding drugs hidden in suspects’ socks or cars.
He became a corrections officer after graduating from high school, before he became a deputy. Still, he wanted a college degree. So he got a job with Alexandria police, a department that offered him the flexibility to attend Northern Virginia Community College.
There, he wandered into an elective drama course.
On the job, Klock became “Officer Jim” during a special assignment in Old Town’s north end neighborhood, where he lived in and patrolled the same high-crime area.
Klock and his partner, Gerald Ford, spent three years busting small-time crack cocaine and marijuana dealers, who occasionally carried guns. But they also helped with trash control and at times worked with residents to heat or power their homes.
“We didn’t have the traditional open-air drug markets, but we had people dealing on the street or in the house,” Ford said. “He had my back, I had his back. He was a top-notch officer and you can tell when you make a difference.”
When he left evening-duty tours, Klock spent hours in school with a professor who saw potential and encouraged Klock to pursue acting.
Soon he connected with local theater groups and launched his first films, shot during off hours at the Potomac Yards movie theater or a buddy’s pizzeria. In one of his first roles, he played Juror No. 3 in the play “12 Angry Men.”
His first attempt at pursuing acting full time failed when he left for Los Angeles in 2003. He stayed only eight months before returning to Virginia and policing.
Back in Stafford, he was promoted to detective and learned the art of undercover work, writing search-warrant applications, spending long hours in surveillance vans and stringing evidence together for major cases.
But he was hooked on acting. Klock started with appearances in daytime soap operas and small roles in shows such as “The Wire,” where he played an undercover drug officer.
Two years later he quieted his own doubts, put ribbing from fellow police officers aside, and moved to California for good.
At first, providing private security for Kate Beckinsale’s family paid the bills as Klock hustled for parts. Later, he found a development position at a small studio, Sunrise Pictures.
On his own, Klock started the Code 3 Film company, and he wrote and starred in “Murder 11,” a full-length 2013 thriller about a serial killer rampaging through Atlantic City. He made the film for $23,700 but sold it to Redbox for a profit.
His first major producer credit came with “The Trials of Cate McCall,” which starred Beckinsale and Nick Nolte and aired on Lifetime.
And if he weren’t busy enough, Klock produces his own “Funny or Die” Web channel, which features sketch comedy, anchored by “Interrogations Gone Wrong,” a spoof on law enforcement interviews with celebrity guests.
As an actor, his work led to speaking parts on episodes of “True Detective” in 2014 and last year on “Scream Queens,” in which he played a buffoonish Detective Chisolm in search of a campus serial killer.
Many of Klock’s roles are connected to law enforcement or crime, and Klock relishes the opportunities to act either in uniform or take on tough-guy parts in which he can incorporate his training and knowledge of police work.
“When I play a detective I know how to stand. I have been to SWAT school. I am that guy,” Klock said.
Director Courtney Hunt chose Klock for his role in “The Whole Truth,” in which he plays a prosecutor sparring with a defense attorney played by Reeves. She said Klock brought his knowledge of court procedure, questioning and even the tedium of real-life proceedings to each scene.
“He’s extremely disciplined, and he must get that from law enforcement. He would be completely prepared when he walked in,” Hunt said. “He reads people extremely well, which also must come from law enforcement.”
Klock said his Virginia ties help him stay true to his Christian upbringing and goal of being a “Southern gentleman.”
His mother, Carolyn Faye Klock, or “Mama Klock” to his many childhood and police friends, has worried about both of his career paths for his body and soul. She remains proud that he still gives to the church and calls home for prayers before big auditions.
“Making a movie is safer than being shot at, but being a police officer is serving your country,” Carolyn Klock said. “It’s an emotional battlefield being in Hollywood.”
And in June, he fulfilled one dream Mama Klock had prayed for — he married a longtime friend from back home.
When he returns home, he also keeps his training updated and works out as if preparing for street duty. His goal this year is to start an acting and filmmaking program for at-risk youths with a friend, Stafford Sheriff David P. Decatur.
His connection to law enforcement and to his home state gives him freedom in filmmaking.
“At no point do I have to sell my soul for fame or a role, getting a script done or whatever, because I will come back and run a scout car,” Klock said. “The badge in my back pocket keeps me from selling my soul.”