HARTINGTON — A 1997 graduate of Wynot High School has one of the leading roles in an upcoming movie, which will air on NBC Sunday, Feb. 17.
Justin Bruening, who grew up on a farm southwest of St. Helena, will appear in Knight Rider, a two-hour movie, which is a remake of the 1980s Knight Rider TV series.
The movie centers around a cool guy who fights crime with the help of a super car.
Bruening was a big fan of the Knight Rider TV series as a little boy.
“This is something from my childhood – I was a huge fan of Knight Rider,” Bruening said in an interview with Monsters and Critics.
Bruening said as a little boy he would run around his house in a leather jacket and fight indiscriminate crime in his house.
Bruening will play Mike Traceur, the estranged son of Michael Knight who is portrayed by actor David Hasselhoff.
Knight Rider, which was taped last November, may turn into more than just a movie, according to Bruening’s mother Deb Pinkelman,
“If the movie is successful it may take off in a TV series,” said Pinkelman, who lives near Crofton.
Bruening’s first acting role was in a popular daytime soap opera.
He portrayed Jamie, one of the characters on “All My Children,” for close to four years, according to Pinkelman.
Bruening also appeared on “One Life to Live” and “Hope and Faith” and he has had spots in “Cold Case” and “CSI: Miami.”
While growing up in Cedar County, Bruening had never given a thought to a career in acting or landing a top spot in a movie.
After graduating from Wynot High School, Bruening attended Chadron State College for three years, studying biochemistry with his eyes on an engineering degree.
Instead of returning to school for his fourth year, he went to California to live with his mother’s sister in San Diego.
Bruening’s plan was to work for a year and get his residency and then complete his degree at San Diego State University.
Pinkelman said her son worked at Blockbuster Video store and did some house painting his first year in California.
His first move toward being in front of a camera came while he was getting something to eat at a fast-food restaurant.
“A woman approached him in McDonald’s and recommended he contact a man who served as an agent for young models.
“The lady’s daughter was already with the agent,” said Pinkelman. “It took Justin three weeks to get up the courage to call the guy.”
The agent signed Bruening up with the Los Angeles Modeling Agency.
Later, he moved over to a branch of a modeling agency in New York which is where his modeling career skyrocketed.
“Some of the modeling he did was for the clothing company Abercrombie & Fitch, for Ralph Lauren and the Arizona Jeans Company,” said Pinkelman.
Bruening also appeared in a Britney Spears video.
Eventually Bruening’s interest turned toward acting.
After taking some acting classes and hiring an acting agent he landed a three-year contract for “All My Children.”
Even though Bruening has found fame in New York and Los Angeles, he still remembers his roots in Cedar County.
“He came back last May for a Bruening family reunion,” his mother said.
And, Bruening has been back for some of the St. Helena 4th of July Celebrations, she said.