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LI’s Jay Hieron, former MMA fighter, acts opposite Denzel Washington in ‘The Equalizer 2’

Jay Hieron, background, is a former MMA fighter

Jay Hieron, background, is a former MMA fighter from Freeport who turned to acting and worked alongside Denzel Washington in "The Equalizer 2." Credit: Sony Pictures

Actors have real names and stage names. They also get assigned character names based on their roles in movies and television shows.

For Freeport’s Jay Hieron, whose real name is James Hieronymous, his character names usually include little more than a basic adjective and simple noun.

“It’s funny, because sometimes on set, they’ll call you by your character name,” said Hieron, a retired MMA fighter who competed in the UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce and other organizations. “Yo, ‘Harried Man,’ we need you over here.”

Yes, Hieron simply was the “Harried Man” for his latest movie role. That role, however, is his biggest so far as he worked opposite Denzel Washington in a key scene in “The Equalizer 2” due in theaters July 20.

“I’ve had some real crazy names,” Hieron said. “I did ‘Daredevil,’ my character name was ‘Lowlife.’ So they’re like, ‘Hey ‘Lowlife,’ come over here.”

Hieron, 41, has moved up a bit in the name world. He actually gets them now. Eight of his most recent 10 credits have characters with actual names. And the “harried” Hieron will excitedly yet calmly walk the red carpet for “The Equalizer 2” premiere on July 17 in Los Angeles.

Hieron wasn’t yet able to discuss all the details of his scene. Based on the snippet shown in the trailers, it involves intense action in tight quarters with Washington, some physical contact, a knife and perhaps a gun.

Hieron said none of his strikes actually connected on Washington during filming of the action sequence.

“I didn’t clip him, he might have clipped me,” Hieron said. “He trains and he’s real knowledgeable on boxing. He’s trained boxing for 30 years.”

Other MMA fighters who appear in the movie include UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, Donald Cerrone and Yves Edwards.

Hieron said his scene was filmed in parts over the course of several weeks in Boston. That gave the budding actor and stunt man plenty of time to observe and study Washington, an eight-time Academy Award nominee and two-time winner (Best Actor for “Training Day” in 2002 and Best Supporting Actor for “Glory” in 1990) and director Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day,” “Brooklyn’s Finest,” “The Equalizer”).

“Just watching him, how he got in the zone. It was pretty cool to see on that level,” Hieron said of Washington. “In between takes and he’d just snap right back into it. He’s definitely great at what he does.

“You got two ears and one mouth. You listen more than you talk.”

Believability is essential to acting. Same with stunts and film fighting. Sure, Hieron was a national champion wrestler at Nassau Community College, an MMA champion in the International Fight League and won 23 of his 30 professional fights. But that didn’t mean his skills in the cage would necessarily translate to the screen.

He had to learn how to fight on camera. Hieron quickly gained a new respect for the cinematic art.

“It’s a lot of work. And behind the scenes, there’s a lot of people,” Hieron said. “From the fight choreographers to the stuntmen to the actors that are doing it. There’s a lot of preparation that goes in behind it that people don’t understand. They just see two guys fighting real quick on TV or something, but no, there’s a lot that goes into it behind it preparing that scene. Over and over again, different camera angles, getting into that same place they were. There’s a lot.”

New York Sports