Campy '80s Flash Gordon actor now a bodyguard in Mexico? But why?

Remember that 1980s campy pop-culture classic movie Flash Gordon? You know, the one with the awesome Queen soundtrack that starred former U.S. Marine Sam J. Jones as the hero? Would it surprise you to learn that the actor has now switched his gears from acting to become a real-life bodyguard?

Remember how in Flash Gordon Jones was always busy saving the Earth and the girls? (Those would be Melody Anderson's Dale Arden—Flash's main love squeeze—and Ornella Muti's Princess Aura, Emperor Ming's rebellious daughter.) Well, these days Jones is getting busy saving real lives by working in the personal security business, serving as bodyguard to high-level execs and VIPs when they travel to high-risk areas.

So how did that come about? Well, after acting offers started to dwindle down to a trickle and the wife basically told Jones to get a job, the actor told EW in a recent interview that he called a major security office to offer his services:

What I did was, one day I called a [major security] company that was known for hiring good professionals, elite guys. I said, "What do I need to do to come on board?" They said, "Look, it's going to take you a while to do it." They sent me to specialized training, and I excelled in that, and next thing you know I was sent to Los Angeles, protecting a billionaire. From there I was sent to [New Orleans in the wake of] Katrina to protect executives who decided to remain. I just excelled there. Hopefully this doesn't come across as arrogant, but I know myself — we know our skill sets and our core competencies. If I was to go out and try to record an album right now, I'd be out of my mind. That's not something I'm good at. But I know what I can do and I do it with a spirit of excellence. And running security operations in high-risk environments and making movies, I'm very good at. Anything else, I might have some issues, you know? [Laughs] It really is a high. Being in the movies and playing a couple of superheroes and characters where other people had to depend on me...this is the real deal. I feel I belong in the movie business and I belong in the security business. It's a natural for me.

As for the dangers of working in a highly volatile and scary country such as Mexico, Jones said:

It can be for somebody who's not paying attention, who's not using common sense. It could be very scary. It's all perception. Don't present yourself as a soft target. When we're in these environments where it's the real deal, we are traveling hard. We're in armored vehicles. They look like normal sedans or SUVs, but they are armored. And we're traveling hard and we're traveling fast. With that said, most of the time we're traveling low profile. We're not putting up red flags. There are times when we have some dignitaries when we have to travel in a huge motorcade with weapons out the windows and stuff like that. But usually we stay under the radar. In other words, we don't give the bad guys any opportunity. They're watching us. We're not stupid. They're assessing, saying, "Well let me see, if I decide to hit this motorcade or this convoy, what are my percentages of success?" When they look at us and they know our training, they can only come up with one conclusion: it's going to be a 20 to 30 to 40 percent chance, if that. So they're not going to mess with us. And that's not a macho statement. It's just in the training. It's just how we present ourselves.

Of course, there's always those super-awkward moments when people recognize Jones as Flash Gordon when he's pulling bodyguard duty:

They figure out after a while, but I separate the security industry from the film industry. When they find out that I was Flash Gordon and in the film business for years, that's okay once I've already proven myself as a security professional. But when I start a project and people say, "Wait a minute, time out: you're saying that we have a former superhero and/or actor in the movie business who's protecting the lives of my family and me? Something's wrong here." [Laughs] I had a big, big successful executive at a major [movie] studio. I had been protecting him for about a year. Then he put it together. He said, "Oh my God, I know exactly who you are. I trust you with my life! Thank God I knew you as a security professional before I found out you were Flash Gordon."

So are you guys at all surprised by Sam J. Jones' career switch? After all, the guy WAS a frakkin' U.S. Marine, and these guys are the best of the best. Plus, he saved the world as Flash Gordon ... yup, we could trust this guy. Would you?

(via Entertainment Weekly)