I recently got the chance to talk to Chris English about his role in ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. Here, Chris talks about how he got involved in the project and what it was like working with the cast and crew on-set…
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film?
‘Much Ado’ is a modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s classic comedy about two sets of lovers with different takes on romance. It’s actually one of Shakespeare’s sunniest writings with the ageless premise of good versus evil. It has it all, love at first sight, an evil plot, evil is punished, virtue is rewarded and good triumphs.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the film…
I started out on the set as an extra and after two days of filming I was invited back by the Line Producer and Joss Whedon as a featured wedding guest. I was fortunate enough to appear with the main cast in five important and key scenes including the finale.
How did you get involved with the project in the first place?
I was studying acting here in Los Angeles and was one of several students invited by our acting instructor to send in resumes to serve as extras in the film. Obviously I jumped at the chance to take direction from an icon like Joss Whedon and was thrilled when I was chosen.
How would you say it’s different and unique to the original Shakespeare text?
It has a very noir and stylized look to it. Whedon filmed in black and white and on a modern set with modern costumes however they stayed true to Shakespearian tongue. By filming in B&W with an “A” list cast that most people already know, Joss Whedon introduced a whole new generation and audience to the works of William Shakespeare in a very successful way. The way he filmed it, this movie is for everyone, even those not a fan of Shakespeare. Every one of all ages will leave the theatre in a good mood and laughing, entertained. It’s no wonder the reviews are so positive all over the country.
The film stars Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, Reed Diamond, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese, Sean Maher and Spencer Treat Clark – with Josh Whedon onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
The best thing was that they all knew each other prior to the first day on set so the camaraderie was already there. They knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and were a cohesive team right off the bat. Working with this entire cast and crew was an amazing experience. Everyone on set, even extras, were treated as equals by everyone, especially Joss Whedon who took the time to learn who we all were as actors and people. I got into many personal and professional discussions with the entire cast. The set was very comfortable and the mood on set was very uplifting. The entire cast and crew was there for the love of Joss Whedon and the love of film making and it shows on the big screen.
An interesting note is that even though he was the boss and very busy shooting the film in only 12 days Joss Whedon always took time in between takes to play with his children.
Let’s talk a bit about you Chris. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
Growing up I was always happiest at the movies. My family and friends would leave the theatre talking about whatever movie was playing while I would come out quoting the best lines word for word, sometimes entire scenes. I just saw movies differently. While watching, I was actually “in” the scenes with the actors. I’ve found that for almost every situation in life, good or bad, I can quote a movie where it already happened. I chose athletics in high school however I couldn’t resist the urge to perform. I guess I was actually performing on the sports fields and never knew it. Once I got involved in performing in school productions I was bitten with the bug.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Check your ego at the door and make sure you are here for the love of the industry. If you don’t absolutely love it, leave it. You must be able to take rejection and handle the struggle. When a casting director gives you your shot, you are not an island. You now represent that casting director and how you represent yourself affects them as well as you. Remember you are not alone but a team, your manager, your agent, and the casting director who all put themselves on the line for you and the entire cast and crew. When finally on the set, make it a better experience for everyone there because it’s not all about you. Good work ethic, positive energy, and help make a great product everyone can be proud of, that’s why you are there.
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
My I-Pod has everything beginning with Bob Marley all the way through Bruce Springsteen to the Notorious B.I.G. I love music and believe there is a time and place for all genre. The right music and right movie go hand and hand. Take a good scene and add good music and that good scene can become great and memorable. Think about ‘Jaws’ without John Williams theme from ‘Jaws’, the music that we can’t get out of our heads 25 years later.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
First and foremost these are in no particular order.
- Johnny Depp: actor, musician, artist, an inspiration and just a wonderful human being. He has been called one of the greatest character actors of this or any generation. He’s transformed himself time and time again into unforgettable characters that we’ve grown to love. Depp dropped out of school at the age of 15 and I would love to hear about the incredible journey that he had to go through during that time. Depp is quoted saying, “Just keep moving forward and don’t give a shit about what anybody thinks. Do what you have to do for you”. To me this quote is a reminder that there is always going to be negative people out there that are going to try to pull you down to their level. When people can’t do something themselves, they try to convince you that you can’t do it either. This quote and Johnny himself are both reminders to always follow your dreams and not let anyone bring them down.
- Next John Lennon, a man who was way before his time. He had a vision of what this world could be, how it could be better, and he wasn’t afraid to share it. He inspired so many people and saw the beauty in everything. A true artist and visionary and just listening to his music you’ll agree. For him it wasn’t just about making music and money. It was about a better place with no racism or hatred or political agenda. He was always looking forward not backwards, a very positive person with a very positive influence on my life.
- Lastly, Mickey Mantle (the Mick) one of the greatest baseball players of all time. A farm boy from Oklahoma he was a true role model for young kids growing up. Greatest switch hitter of all time, Hall of Famer, you name it. Throughout his career, Mantle was plagued by injuries and leg pain caused by osteomyelitis, yet he persevered to leave one of the greatest baseball legacies of all time. He had no cartilage in his knee and kept playing through the pain for his team and for the fans. I want to learn what drove and inspired him to do it.
Which film was your favourite of 2012 and why?
‘Silver Linings Playbook’ was my favourite last year. It is that rare breed of movie where everything was created in exactly the right way. The brutally honest dialogue is sharp. It has strong characters and the amazing cast makes it look easy. It is a beautiful story of real life and the struggles we face. Its message to me was that everyone has problems, get over it and go find your silver lining. When life knocks us down and we lose track, we get up find ourselves again.
Bradley Cooper was inspiring and made you connect and feel his pain.
What’s coming up for you in 2013?
My first feature comedy, ‘House Arrest’, in which I play a young stoner who, with his best friend gets in trouble with the law and is placed under house arrest, will be making the rounds of the film festivals. I also have a quick scene with Justin Timberlake in the upcoming film ‘Runner Runner’ coming out in September. I’m trying my hand at theatre later in the year and am scheduled to film a group of shorts this summer with a new production company being started by a good friend. And of course, always auditioning!
Thanks for the interview!