An actor who took part in the original Jaws movie has now become the actual police chief in the town where the flick was filmed
Step aside, Chief Brody. It’s time for the “Boy with Cardboard Fin” to take over. In a plot twist no one predicted, the new police chief of the island where Jaws was filmed actually appeared in the film as a young actor, according to Bloody Disgusting. Jonathan Searle was just a kid in 1974 when Steven Spielberg and company came to the island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts to film his shark movie. His small role in the classic horror movie has now taken an ironic turn. He is now the police chief of the town on the island, a revelation which Roy Scheider would have likely approved.
Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard was chosen as the film’s primary shooting location. It’s standing in as the fictional town of Amity, which is held under siege by a great white shark who feasts on the local residents. Like many of the town’s local residents, Searle was cast as an extra in Jaws along with his brother Steven. As it turns out, the two were chosen for a scene in which they play a prank on beachgoers using a cardboard shark fin.
The prank causes a panic on the beach, and the kids are nearly shot by cops thinking they were a real shark. Jonathan even has a line in the film, blaming his older brother for putting him up to the prank. The scene is quite memorable, and now, a bit ironic, as even Searle will admit. “I’m finding the whole thing quite funny myself,” he told The New York Post.
Searle’s rise to police chief is no fluke: since 1986, he has served with the Edgartown Police Department on Martha’s Vineyard, near Oak Bluffs where most of the filming took place. His father, George Searle, was an officer in Edgartown while Jaws filmed in the area, and served as chief of police from 1981 to 1995. In yet another ironic twist, Jonathan assisted in a 2008 case of a local man charged with disorderly conduct for lying about sharks in the water at the local beach.
In Jaws, Jonathan is credited as “Boy Swimmer with Cardboard Fin.” Today, the 56-year-old Searle is happy being credited as “Police Chief.” He’s taking his new position, and the notoriety it is now bringing, all in stride. “I’m clearly elated and I’m humbled and honored to have been offered the position,” Searle told The Vineyard Gazette, the local newspaper. “It’s something I’ve been working toward my whole career.”
Searle was promoted to police chief on May 16, following a 3-1 city council vote, beating out two other candidates for the job. A native of the island, Jonathan did not pursue acting after his appearance in Jaws, and the film remains his only credit on IMDB.
During his career with the Edgartown Polcie Department, Searle was active in his community work, and one of his duties included serving as constable during town meetings for many years. He also led an initiative in which police officers and recovery coaches teamed up to help local residents in treatment programs overcome their addiction issues. In case you’re wondering, a reboot of Jaws is unlikely to happen, as Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment have turned down requests for a new take on the classic film.