Interview with Chris in Los Angeles
Marina del Rey, Los Angeles, CA – Oct 06, 2008
In October 2008, Anne (DomesticElephant), Deb (Sisterdebmac) and Tina (TeeJay) went to LA together and met up with Chris for an afternoon. We first went out to lunch and later sat down to interview him for the website, which we also audio-recorded. Below you can read the transcription of the interview. The audio files can be found in the Media Interviews section of the site (MP3 format).
Deb: We started kinda talking about some of your upcoming stuff while we were at lunch and since the first card I have says Lunchers, what can you tell us about that?
Chris: Lunchers. Lunchers is, uh, so there’s a guy I’m good friends with named Adam Rose and he wrote that with this other guy named Ryan Eggold, who I don’t know. And the two of them wrote that script and it’s basically just them like eating at diners and they basically realize like for years they’ve known each other and been good friends and all around Los Angeles. They all of sudden realize that like, “Oh my God, we do nothing with our lives but eat at diners.” So they just like wrote their dialog and what they’re usually talking about, and it’s pretty funny. And then they came to me. My good friend, Andrew’s gonna produce it for them, and help them make it. And then, um, Adam Rose came to me, and my good friend, Dan Byrd, who you guys met on the Revenge Of The Nerds set. And so they asked the two of to play this really small, it’s a really tiny, tiny part and it’s basically their doppelgangers. But like they’re total losers at the diners, like they’re always trying to hit on the waitresses and it doesn’t work. They always order the wrong thing, blah blah blah. And so they, all of a sudden, we’re like their doppelgangers that they see at the diners sometimes, but are like totally the cool versions of them. So we get all the waitresses and we like always know exactly what to order and how, you know, medium well for a burger. And, you know, like they complain about how there’s never Tabasco sauce at the table and they always gotta get up and get it. So, but like we always sit at the table with the Tabasco.
Chris: It’s like that kind of thing. So… But it’s really tiny and I don’t know what, you know, they’re gonna try to get it off the ground in the next couple of months. So I don’t know exactly what’s gonna happen.
Deb: It’s a feature?
Chris: It’s a full feature, yeah. And um, I mean my agent doesn’t even know about it, so like I don’t know.
Chris: (laughs) Yeah. ‘Cause it’s a friend of mine. It was just like, “Do you mind if I put this up on IMDb?” I was like, “Yeah, man, sure.” So yeah, I, uh, yeah, it’s not like a thing that I was auditioning for. It’s just, uh, my good friend…
Deb: That reminds me, what ever happened to The Day The Dead Weren’t Dead?
Chris: Um, they did that little trailer and they put it in a bunch of festivals and it did really well. And those two guys are gonna make another movie called The FP, which is another short film that they had made, you know, that they’re in the process of making right now with some other friends of mine. And um, I don’t know. I mean the purpose of that originally was not, it wasn’t to be a full movie or anything. It was… they were up, the guys who directed it, they were up for a directing job at a studio, and the studio said they wanted to see more of their work. So that trailer they had done like five years before, and they never finished it. So they called me up and they were like, “Yo, will you just do this little part in it. We just wanna finish this trailer.” So I just went up for an afternoon and, you know, did that. But it wasn’t for the purpose of like anything other than to help them get this other job. So…
Deb: That what I thought. I was kinda trying to tell people that and they kept saying, “No, no, it’s gonna be turned into a feature.”
Chris: I think that they eventually, Jason Trost, who’s the guy who wrote it. He told me afterwards, he was like, “I had so much fun doing that, that I definitely wanna write—I think he did write the full script and wanted to do it, but um…
Deb: So he was just looking for a calling card, basically.
Chris: Yeah, yeah, it’s basically like a whole demo reel of like five or six things they’ve directed. And they showed it to them, and they were like, “Well, we wanna see more.” ‘Cause it was gonna be like this huge multi-million dollar movie and they’d never done a full feature, so they were like, “We wanna see some more of your work,” and then they showed them a few more things and that was one of them.
Deb: It was so much fun. You were so badass in that. Did you have fun doing that?
Chris: Yeah, yeah, oh, yeah. Are you kidding me? It was great.
Deb: One-handed shotgun-cock.
Chris: With the gun? Yeah, it was so good. And like really fun, yeah.
Deb: I made her [TeeJay] make me an avatar of you doing that.
Chris: Oh really? That’s hilarious. Yeah, give me a shotgun. I’ll be happy.
Deb: So let’s go back to the other couple of things that we were talking about at lunch, that you were doing. The thing that you’re, uh, the New York—
Chris: Um, yeah, that thing is gonna be this little movie called Other People’s Children, is the name of it. And it’s just a little thing that Aaron Himelstein is gonna shoot and edit, and, uh, it’ll be me and a couple of my friends. And we haven’t locked in everybody. But it’s just about four people living in New York, and these sort of two different relationships and, uh, they’re really new. And, uh, yeah, it’s just this sort of relationship between all these four people. And, you know, the kind of point of the story seems to be… You know, the title’s Other People’s Children, so it’s really just about you know you forget that like, you know, all these people around you have real lives that they’re living, that they’re going through things just like you are. You know, and there’s sort of a seclusion, especially in New York City, it’s such a city where like you’re around people 24/7, but at the same time you’ve got your bubble and nobody talks to each other and it’s just very… You know it’s a lot of solitude for a city that’s so crowded. And this story is really just about four random mid-20’s people who are going through some pretty heavy stuff in their lives and trying to deal with it. And um, you know it’s very casual, it’s not really a movie that has a whole lot going on in it, but I think has a lot to say under the surface. And I’ve been helping rewrite it with Aaron. It was this girl named Adrian who wrote it and it was originally a play she had written.
Deb: So do you have a love interest in this one?
Chris: I do have a love interest in this one, yeah. I won’t tell you who yet, but uh, yeah, it’ll be cool, so…
Deb: Good. It’s about time.
Chris: Yep, it’s about time.
Deb: See some romantic leads.
Chris: Yeah! See some romance.
Deb: Well, we kind of already talked about the fact that you’re working on the little TV Show that you guys did with Aaron.
Deb: Can you tell us just a little bit about that?
Chris: Yeah, so that thing we’re calling it right now… I mean it’s really pointless in giving it a title just because if it were to actually get made, we would have no say in getting the title done, the studio does all that. But, uh, we’re calling it Done At 21. And it’s basically me, Aaron Himelstein, Andrew McFarlane and A.J. Trauth. And the four of us are these um… I was once a famous child actor. And we were all like, you know, anywhere from 12-15. A.J. was a famous musician, and an actor. And Aaron was a famous writer/director with like the biggest movie at Sundance at like 14 years old. And then, uh, Andrew McFarlane plays a guy whose dad is this super rich, famous actor that’s won like all these Academy awards. His joke is like… Oh yeah, so the idea is that in the pilot, Aaron left for six months, all of us are totally unsuccessful. I’m doing breakfast cereal commercials, getting drunk before an audition—because I’m playing an alcoholic character—to read for Oliver Stone. And I don’t get the part. Actually, Zac Efron gets the part.
Chris: Yeah, so I see him walk out of the audition room—it’s not actually him, it’s, uh, it’s just another friend of ours. You don’t ever see his face. And I don’t get the part, so by the end of the pilot everybody fails in some way or another. And Andrew McFarlane, he calls his dad to try to fund this movie that Aaron Himelstein wrote for me to star in, and he spent six months writing this and if it doesn’t go, he’s gonna go home and give it all up. And I’m sort of at a point where I’m gonna give up my career, and A.J.’s at a point where his music career’s just going nowhere and, you know, his girlfriend breaks up with him. And, you know, it’s just like you’re a loser and you’re struggling and I’m sick of it and I can’t take it anymore. And then Andrew, he hasn’t talked to his dad in forever, ’cause his dad’s always busy doing something. So he calls up his dad to see if he might wanna finance this movie that Aaron wrote for me to star in and A.J. to compose the music for and produce. And the joke is, you know, we’re like, “Dude, you should call your dad.” And he’s like, “No, no, no, I haven’t talked to him in forever… I wouldn’t even know where to find him.” A.J. goes, “Well, I read in Variety that he’s in Jamaica with Halle Berry.”
Chris: And so when he calls his dad later on in the show, he picks up the phone and he’s like, “Hey Dad, I wanted to… Wait, who is this? Hello? Who is this?” And he goes, “Oh, hi, Halle.” And he’s like talking to her for a second and he goes, “I loved you in Swordfish, bye!”
Chris: So the point is that everybody kind of goes through their personal kind of disappointment and failure. I don’t get the part in the Oliver Stone movie, um, Zac Efron does. Aaron Himelstein, his agent convinces him to offer my part to Penn Badgley, who’s actually in it. And Penn says no, so he sort of fails. And also our friendship—you know, we get in a little fight over it. And then A.J.’s girlfriend breaks up with him and he’s just struggling. And then, uh, the four us decide that we wanna make a movie. We’re like, you know what? We’ve gotta make this movie. No matter what. And so the idea of that was kind of like why we made the show. You know all these movies are falling apart that we’re all trying to do, you know. And it’s hard to get a job now because the economy’s so bad. And the business is sort of failing and folding in on itself. So we were like, you know, dude, let’s just make a TV show. You know what? Screw it, let’s just make it. So that was kind of the point of doing the show, and it’s also, you know, the actual show, so that’s what it’s about with these four characters.
Deb: Great. So if you sell it, you’re ready to go back to TV, huh?
Chris: Yeah. You know, well, that’s what I figured. I was like well, if I’m gonna do a TV show, I’d have to be creating, writing producing and starring in it. And uh, that would be just awesome.
Deb: Love that idea.
Chris: Yeah, yeah, it’d be really cool, and um, it’d be really exciting. And it’s also like three of my closest friends in the entire world. So for like all four of us to be able to hang out and have a full time job and really work and be able to… you know we’re gonna put—we came up with all these different characters for all of our friends, so like Sean’s gonna play—uh, you know, I mean, I’m sure these’ll all be fine-tuned and figured out if and when the show actually goes—but he’s gonna play my actual brother, who I never tell my friends about. Like, “Wait, you’ve had a brother? We’ve known you for ten years, you never—” And like eventually I admit, I’m like, “It’s because he’s a better actor than me. He books everything.” And what happens is, we start getting similar in age so we have to start auditioning against each other. And my character is like, this… he’s really overwhelming, you know like he’s really pushy and loud and crazy. And so, um, I get like super-competitive with Sean. Like I can’t, like, you know, I can’t see him at auditions. I try to make him late on purpose… And then another character, is my good friend, Paul Dano came up with a character that he wants to play where he’s, uh, this actor that I’ve known since I was a kid and he comes in from New York to visit me and he’s got an audition to go on, so he shows up. And you know, my character so far is like this method actor, who goes in in-character, that’s why he gets drunk for the audition. And so, uh, the idea is that we both have the same audition. And he’s staying with me, but it’s to play like an Irish handicapped guy, who has a speech impediment.
Tina: Oh no.
Chris: And has to be in a wheelchair, so both of us are playing this character simultaneously.
Chris: So he’s hanging out at my apartment, and we’re both like (speaks in a funny voice), “Thank you very much. Yes, I appreciate it. Can I have a cuuu-cuuu-cuuup of coffee please. A cuu-cuu-cuu-cuu-cup of coffee.” And we’re both doing it at the same time. And we have to go to the audition together because they’re like a half hour apart from each other. And neither one of us will drop the act.”
Chris: We’re in competition with each other. So we’re like trying to outdo each other as we’re going. But the point is I don’t know if we’ll actually do that or not. It’d be great, but, uh, the point is that we could really just put our friends in it. And it was great. Paul was like, “I got an idea.” And the idea is that if we had a TV show right now we could be writing that, doing that, filming it, so…
Deb: Aaron’s taking meetings on that these days, right?
Chris: We all are. We’re gonna go collectively. We’re calling ourselves 818, which is this area code that we all grew up with. There’s this really ridiculous thing in Los Angeles just as you give your phone number to somebody it’s always some ridiculous thing where people are like, “Uh 3-1-0” or “3-2-3, actually”. It’s like it gives somebody some sort of status for some reason. So 8-1-8, literally all of our cell phones have never changed so it’s all 8-1-8 numbers. I remember A.J. at one point changed his to 3-1-0 and we were all, “Why would you do that, man?! Why would you change?” And he said, “I know. It’s stupid.” And he literally changed it back the same day. He said, “I want my old number back I want 8-1-8, okay?” So we’re calling ourselves 8-1-8 and we’re gonna sort of team up. And it’s just a lot of our good friends, I think, are gonna be part of this production company where we can just make shows and movies and do these things. Sort of start off, you know? ‘Cause we’re all, we’re getting a groove now, with the lack of opportunity that there is in the business, we’re getting in a groove of working with each other, and inspiring each other, motivating each other.
Deb: Create your own…
Chris: Creating our own stuff.
Deb: That’s great.
Deb: Yay! Sounds wonderful. Um. I, personally am really interested in Race to Witch Mountain.
Chris: Oh, yeah? Really?
Deb: ‘Cause I loved the movies when I was a kid. Yeah. Oh God, I was obsessed with them…
Chris: It’s totally different.
Deb: I’m really looking forward to this. I have no, like, “You can’t remake that!” I have none of that going on. I’m excited.
Chris: Gotcha. Okay.
Deb: What I’m wondering is, what you can tell us about your character? Because I heard that all of you guys, well, at lot of you guys, were asked back for possible sequels. And I can’t imagine a bad guy being asked back for a sequel.
Chris: Yeah. Well, I wasn’t, I haven’t been officially asked. I’m not, um, I’m not obligated to do a sequel also. So there’s no, uh, it’s not in my contract that I’d have to do a sequel. I think, you know, with studio movies when they make sequels it really depends on how it does to begin with. So I think depending on, yeah, when the movie comes out, how it does. I think then the studio will probably decide if they want to make a sequel or not.
Deb: But if you’re working for the bad guys, why would they want you back for a sequel?
Chris: Maybe… Well here’s the thing—
Deb: Without spoiling anything.
Chris: We’re working for the bad guys, but we’re good guys. You know that’s the thing at the end of the day…
Deb: Wow! Okay…
Chris: …we’re not…
Tina: Wait, wait, wait! (claps her hands over her ears to not get spoiled)
Chris: Okay. My character is like the newest addition to the FBI. He’s like the young computer-hacking guy who is just brand new to this whole thing. And so he doesn’t know the ropes and that’s sort of where the comedy comes in is he’s always kind of messing things up a little bit, saying something ridiculous, you know. Everybody’s always rolling their eyes at this character…
Deb: Sounds like fun.
Chris: And it’s cool ’cause Ciaran Hinds is the real bad guy. He’s always like, “Mistah Pope! What do you think you’re doing?” Really intense, intense actor, and just so great.
Deb: He’s fantastic.
Chris: Yeah, he’s one of my favorites. And uh, Tom Everett Scott is sort of like my partner in crime. He’s like the older version of me, basically. Anytime I screw up, he’s there to tap me on the shoulder, “There’s a gun in your face. You might want to run.” And I’m like, “Right! Run!” And so that’s basically it, yeah. I’d say 80% of that movie my job was to show up on set, wait around for an insane amount of time while they set up some crazy explosion, and then go film for 30 seconds. They’d do this explosion and we’d all go, “Aaaaaaahhh!!!” and we’d run away… And they’d go, “Great! Go home. See you tomorrow.” And I’m like, “That’s it? That’s all I gotta do today?” “Yep.” “All right. Cool!” But the director, Andy Fickman, is like one of the funniest, coolest directors I’ve ever worked with. And he just kept the set so funny and appealing so you’re waiting around all day, and that’s what most people’s jobs are on that set ’cause it’s such an expensive special effects, you know, ridden with special effects, and so, you know, he always kept it very light and airy, made everybody laugh all the time. He was always telling jokes, so…
Deb: Were you there when they shot the UFO convention parts?
Chris: No, I missed… Well, I did shoot inside in Las Vegas in the casino and they have a bunch of different parts of the UFO convention. And so I shot a bunch in the Planet Hollywood Hotel which they turned into a fake UFO convention. Like even there’s all these TV sets that are in the casino above the slot machines and they would literally have “UFO Convention” on there. And so they literally dressed it… Even at night when we weren’t shooting, it was still going and so it would just look like a UFO convention the whole time. And we were all staying in the hotel also, so… And, yeah, I was there for like two weeks, in Vegas
Deb: Andy kind of went out of his way to make it something that… ‘Cause he’s kind of a UFO buff.
Chris: Yeah, yeah.
Deb: And he really went out of his way to make that something that other UFO buffs, like myself, are gonna really enjoy.
Deb: There’s a Whitley Strieber book laying right over there (2012: The War For Souls).
Chris: Yeah, yeah, I noticed.
Deb: And Whitley and Anne are in the movie.
Chris: Yeah, I read his um—that was the best part is that we had so much time waiting around that me and Tom Everett Scott and Ciaran Hinds and this guy, Billy Brown, the four of us who are the FBI guys just decided to start reading the same books together. We got a book club going. So I read Whitley Strieber’s Communion while I was filming, ’cause I thought I was gonna meet him and then I didn’t.
Chris: Then I was like, that’s OK, he’s seen aliens before and that kinda freaks me out. So I was like, I’m not—it’s OK.
Deb: You know what? He’s a really cool guy.
Chris: That’s what I’ve heard. Yeah, yeah.
Deb: I’ve actually met him a couple of times and he’s really cool. And you think when you meet him he’s gonna be very bizarre and strange, or he’s gonna start talking about anal probes and stuff, but he’s not. He’s a really kind of down to earth guy. You know, he lived in middle of nowhere San Antonio most of his life.
Chris: No way.
Deb: Yeah. He’s just really…
Chris: Yeah, it seems it, I mean, that’s the thing that was really convincing about his book is that it’s just uh, he’s such a rational, logical person. There’s nothing crazy about him. You know, it’s actually like he’s completely refuting his own story the entire time. Like, “I don’t want this to be true, but I have to accept it, so…”
Deb: And what’s great nowadays is that he’s come to point where he has a really great sense of humor about it.
Chris: Yeah, yeah.
Deb: Which is what allowed he and Anne to go and participate in the movie.
Deb: But also, the last couple of books he’s written, The Grays & 2012, he has taken sort of a version of himself…
Chris: Oh, and put it into a character.
Deb: …And he completely makes fun of himself in both of these books.
Chris: Oh, that’s cool.
Deb: And they’re just so funny. So if you ever want a really big laugh.
Chris: Yeah, I bought 2012. I wanna read it…
Deb: 2012 is the weirdest, most hilarious, insane book I’ve ever read.
Chris: No way, really? Oh cool.
Deb: You’ll get about 40 pages into and it and you’ll just be like, I can’t believe what I’m reading.
Chris: Yeah? (Laughs)
Deb: I mean, he blows up the Great Pyramid like within the first 12 pages.
Chris: That’s hilarious.
Deb: You’ll love it.
Chris: That’s cool. I gotta read that.
Deb: Cool. Well, thank you very much. ‘Cause I’m really excited about that movie.