This actor has stage fright — when it comes to the Big Apple.
Jorge J. Prieto is “so afraid” of Gotham’s surging crime, he “won’t answer any casting calls until New York City is safe again,” he told the Post.
The 61-year-old struggling thespian left Queens for Manchester, N.J., in January to escape the mayhem, and estimated he’s taken himself out of the running for at least 40 gigs — ironically, including some in the “Law & Order” franchise.
Prieto joined the Screen Actors Guild in 2019, and worked frequently, appearing in the NBC medical drama series “New Amsterdam” that same year season and three episodes of “Power: Book 2” in December 2019 and a fourth episode in January 2020.
“But then COVID hit and everything stopped,” he said. “Then the crime wave hit.”
“Since January 2020, I haven’t really worked,” said Prieto, who makes ends meet off his savings, disability checks from a spinal injury in 2016 and rent he receives from a condo tenant.
“When the calls come, you have to be on the set at 5 or 6 in the morning,” he added. “The majority of the calls are in Manhattan or Brooklyn, sometimes The Bronx. I’m worried about being assaulted.”
Prieto’s personal claim to fame should have been as an extra in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” but his appearance ended up on the cutting room floor, he said.
Prieto said he worked 15 days in the spring and summer of 2019 on that blockbuster film and on “In the Heights,” pocketing $5,000.
The 5-foot-6, 158-pound Prieto, who said he’s normally cast as “a victim” in theater or non-speaking roles in film and TV, said $184 pay for eight hours work is not worth his risk to ride the rails or walk the streets in the dark.
As a teen, the Queens native said he was assaulted three times, including once in 1979 when an armed robber put a gun to his head while he was flipping burgers at McDonald’s in Corona, where his 86-year-old dad still lives.
“[The gunman] told my manager, you had better open the safe or I’m going to blow his head off,” Prieto recalled.
He’s not willing to play Russian Roulette with his life now, he said.
“I read all these stories about people being attacked — like the guy who was sucker-punched just standing on the sidewalk — and now he [the suspect] is out,” Prieto said.
Prieto believes Mayor Adams’ “hands are tied” and it’s up to other elected officials to change their tune on bail reform, including soft-on-crime Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.
“Bragg. That guy has got to go!” Prieto said.
His acting career in NYC is on hold until further notice.
“It would have to be something really big, where you get paid more. I would sacrifice by paying for an Uber,” he said.