The verdict is in: Ronald Gladden really is that nice.
When Jury Duty premiered April 7 on Amazon Freevee, viewers had three questions: 1. Is this real? 2. Was James Marsden really in Sonic the Hedgehog? and 3. Who the heck is juror No. 6? The answer: A 30-year-old San Diego-based project manager who applied on Craigslist to be a part of what he believed to be a documentary about jury duty.
In reality—or, technically, faux-reality for Ronald—he was unknowingly setting himself up to become the hero of the mockumentary show that has restored some of the Internet's faith in humanity. While the rest of the jurors may have been trained performers, Ronald's kindness and patience throughout the 17-day filming process was anything but an act, with viewers swooning (and, in some cases, definitely thirsting) over his humble demeanor, sincere approach to the fake trial and his empathy towards his fellow jurors. (We'll get to that iconic A Bug's Life scene, don't you worry.) And, yes, his 6-foot-6 stature is basically icing on the cake.
Basically, if there was an Emmy for America's Sweetheart, Ronald would be sweeping the floor with the competition. If there were a presidential election held tomorrow, Ronald could very well be a nominee with his beloved corgi meatball as his running mate.
So, Ronald feels no stress about living up to that ideal, right?
"I don't know if I feel pressure," Ronald told E! News in an exclusive interview. "But I can't get road rage anymore, that's for sure. I can't yell at people anymore. That's the only frustrating thing."
Yes, Ronald's only flaw seems to be an occasional fit of anger while behind the wheel—especially now that he has been spending more time in Los Angeles since becoming Jury Duty's breakout star. When pressed to reveal the worst thing he's done, he politely plead the fifth, before cheekily adding, "Hey, everyone has a past!"
"I learned how patient I really am," he explained of his TV fame. "Because I used to not be so patient and I am working on being better about it. The show really just showed me how far I have come."
However, he did admit soft-spoken candy machine owner/juror No. 9 Ken (Ron Song) did prove to be the ultimate test. I dreaded having conversations with Ken because his delivery of his character was so slow," Ronald said. "Literally, his jokes would take five or 10 minutes to get everything out, but you gotta be polite."
Not that Ronald has to actually work on being gallant. May we present exhibit A: The A Bug's Life scene in episode three, which stems from socially awkward juror No. 2 Todd (David Brown) feeling embarrassed when one of his inventions—"chair pants," which are basically crutches sewn onto jeans and, according to Ronald, a real thing—earns him a scolding from the judge and some snickers from the juror box.
Rather than join in on the chorus of giggles, Ronald invited Todd over to his hotel room to watch the 1998 animated classic about an inventive ant who's always messing things up. He just wanted to let his new friend know he wasn't alone and that his creativity was appreciated.
Swoon City, population: Us.
Humble to an almost unnatural degree given his current pop culture capital, Ronald deflected credit when asked about the viral moment, explaining the show's producers had merely placed old DVDs in his hotel room. Still, they couldn't anticipate how Ronald would connect Todd to the movie's protagonist Flik.
"As soon as I saw the DVD, like, that's when I started piecing it together," he explained. "I just thought it would be something cool to show him because I had a feeling he hadn't seen it. I just wanted to help him feel better."
But, before you even try to acknowledge what a sweet thought that was, Ronald is ready to swat away any praise.
"Everyone's like, 'That's such a nice gesture!' But I enjoy the movie as well, too," Ronald said. "I wanted to watch it." In fact, he does love animated content, listing his favorite shows as South Park, Rick and Morty, Solar Opposites and, of course, Family Guy, the latter of which led to the premiere's infamous "I'm racist" moment from Noah (Mekki Leeper) who was attempting to get out of jury duty.
It helped, of course, that the connections Ronald formed with his fellow jurors while they were sequestered were very authentic, even if the setting they were in was manufactured.
"Something I want people to realize is that the reason these genuine relationships were formed was because the actors had so much downtime where nothing was happening that they couldn't afford to get caught up in a lie," he shared. "The stories they told me, anything about their background, everything was real about them as an actual person."
And, after the show's conceit was revealed to Ronald, the hardest part was "getting their names correct." Oh, and dealing with the cast's group chat.
"It's more than I would want," he admitted, but only because he can't keep up with it. "I hate seeing my phone and having, like, 57 messages. And it's all just in one block. I don't like that!"
It's not just the Jury Duty family that has been blowing up Ronald's phone as of late, with celebrities like Ryan Reynolds, T-Pain, Charlie Puth and more all wanting a pic with juror No. 6.
But there's one celeb connection that stands out to Ronald: Parks and Recreation star Ben Schwartz.
"I've been trying to do anything with Ben and I love him," Ronald gushed. "He's so funny." And, the actor, who also lent his voice to Sonic, was actually texting Ronald with "a ton of questions" about the show.
(But don't fret, Marsden: "James is fine, he's my number one. He knows that!")
Rubbing elbows with celebs and becoming the Internet's boyfriend is not something Ronald envisioned when he began filming the faux-documentary in March of last year. Now, though, he is picturing a future in the entertainment industry, recently signing with Artists First for representation.
"I am working on an unscripted show right now," Ronald revealed. "I'm obviously not an actor, so I'm not pursuing acting gigs. Maybe that's a conversation we have years down the road. But I am living in the unscripted world and we're trying to get a television show that would be authentic towards me."
So, what would that look like? The project, still in its early stages, would be "something involving Meatball, ideally," Ronald teased. "Never enough attention for my Meatball!"
However, there is one opportunity Ronald definitely isn't interested in pursuing.
"I do not have any intention of being on The Bachelor," he vehemently responded when we floated the idea of him handing out the roses. "I truthfully have never seen it, but the premise alone is enough to turn me off. Why would you want to date people on camera when they are more than likely not even being their true selves? That does not sound fun to me."
Ronald really is here for the right reasons.
Jury Duty—along with the new Exclusive Cast Commentary Edition—are streaming on Amazon Freevee.