As most of you know by now, we’re one of the very, very few sites of our kind that refuses to work with studio publicists. In the last couple of years, that’s become even more important to us, as other popular movie blogs have sprung up to become essentially another arm of studio public relations efforts. Junket interviews, set visits, and trailer and movie poster exclusives — that’s just movie promotion. Granted, all exposure is a form of promotion, but at least with us, you can trust that it’s not being influenced by access or publicists threatening to deny access. We have no access, and therefore, no one can hold it over our heads.
One of the perks, however, of that access is interviews with celebrities. Granted, most of those are junket interviews, which generally elicit nothing at all of import. They’re just a series of impersonal sound bites offered up to promote a studio flick. Over the years, we have been able to secure the occasional interview without working with publicists. In almost all cases, it was because a filmmaker left a comment or sent an appreciative email we followed up with an interview request, which were sometimes granted, sometimes not.
However, we thought up an interesting way to work around publicists and, in the process, hopefully provide a lot more insight, not into a specific film or television show, but in the film-making process. And thus is born our Blue Collar Series, where we hope to interview the types of people who form 95 percent of the industry, those who put in the hours and the hard work without necessarily receiving the attention or accolades that the stars do. Filmmaking is a huge industry, and there are hundreds of thousands of people who do the behind-the-scenes work on union scale or spend their careers taking small roles in movies, television, and commercials.
We’re excited to kick off the series with an English-born Canadian actor by the name of Christopher Gauthier. Gauthier provides the perfect example of what we’re trying to do here. He’s been in the industry for over a decade, and he’s had 51 credits, some very small (a donut shop manager in “Reaper”) and some more significant (a series regular in “Eureka”). He’s been in “Psych,” “Harper’s Island,” “Dead Like Me,” The Butterfly Effect 2, “Smallville,” and even had a role in Watchmen (click to watch ). You might not know his name, but you very well may recognize him. Here’s a little of Chris in action — the first clip is all his speaking parts in 40 Days and Night and the second is from a hilarious role he had in the fantastic “Dead Like Me.”
It is with absolute pleasure that we offer up our first post in the Blue Collar Series: An interview with Christopher Gauthier:
Pajiba: What kind of background do you have, Christopher, and what led you to an acting career?
Christopher Gauthier: I was born in Dunstable, a small town in England and moved to Canada (Armstrong, British Columbia) when I was 5. My grandad did a lot of art as did my Uncle John. My family, I suppose has been creative for a long time… I was always a bit of a ham so upon seeing a play as a young dude I found it hard to believe that there was an outlet where they let you do this sort of thing. I quickly found my self in plays and generally seeking that sort of attention. In my early teens I started to take it more seriously and began taking lessons in Vernon. We were put on the festival circuit and took part in a thing called the Royal Conservatory of Toronto. Having done alright in these things and getting older now had dreams of pursuing this life in Vancouver. I was an unmotivated sort and it took my wife to bring us to Vancouver where I began chasing a film career …
P: Is acting a full time job for you? And how well do you support yourself?
CG: Acting is now a full time job for me.I manage fine. There are lean times just like in any profession but we’ve always managed. Some really good years and some leaner but we’ve never really wanted.
P: You’ve clearly found a lot of work, at least according to iMDB. Your filmography seems to be heavy on sci-fi and geeky types of movies and television shows. Are you often cast as a particular type?
CG: It would seem that Vancouver is the Sci Fi hub of the industry so it would seem unavoidable to find yourself in this genre. I happen to be quite fortunate as I love it and being a character actor suit this style.
P: Do you often compete with the same actors for roles?
CG: Oh yes! You become known for a certain style, be it because of your weight class or ability. Some are better comedic actors and some dramatic so you’ll generally be slotted into one of those categories. I like to think that I can do both and am able to go out for both on some scale but mostly comedy stuff. There, I’ll see a lot of the other “Funny chubby dudes.”
P: What do you think about the quality of the shows you work on? Surely, you take a gig on something you’ve never watched or care to?
CG: It’s hard to evaluate quality as it’s usually always passionate people working with different budgets. So a smaller show may have a more passionate director and production team than someone who is there for a big pay check and a history of good film. I treat it all the same which sounds very diplomatic but is true! Every once and a while you feel a little icky about some gigs but the vast majority of things I’ve been a part of, I’ve been proud of.
P: At point do you think an agent is invaluable?
An agent is very important, they are your conduit to the audition and furthermore, your care taker thereafter! They are in a position to negotiate and as such will not be taken lightly. It’s more than fielding offers and working on contracts; they become friends who see to it you’re taken care of.
P: How many no’s have you heard before that sweet, sweet yes?
CG: My batting average isn’t that bad actually… You will always hear “No” though” I think that’s safe to say in any self employed career!
P: Is there any show you desperately want to work on? Is there any actor you really want to work with?
CG: Would LOVE to work on “Dexter,” anything Tim Burton or ANYTHING Terry Gilliam does. As far as actors go It would great to work with John Malcovich, Robert Downey Junior and Sam Rockwell.
P: Worst set experience?
CG: My worst set experience was probably more to do with location than a treatment thing or anything like that. It would have been shooting this movie where I was on this dirt road in the sweltering heat and they needed a wide shot so I was left there by myself for a couple hours while they got it. I think I suffered a bit of heat stroke that day. Not the best thing for a chubby fella.
P: Rather than be paparazzi famous, do ever get the strange stares out of the corner of the eye, like I’ve seen that guy, where the hell do I know that guy?
CG: Yeah, that tends to happen quite a bit. I’m one of those actors (I guess) that people have seen but couldn’t discern where from. So I do get looks. Funnily enough I got recognized most from this series of beer ads I did with Molson Canadian. I had seasons tickets for the Canucks (a hockey team here) at the time and would get noticed quite a bit.
P: What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
CG: I feel as though I’ve a had a pretty good handle on my career in this industry for a while I didn’t get into film till after I’d done a lot of theatre and I think you learn to humble there. I don’t take it all too seriously and I think that’s the approach you need. You can take your work seriously but the business side could eat you up if you didn’t have a sense of humor. It all comes back to hearing “No!” Some people don’t like that. I think I’ve put it into perspective … I hope….
P Finally, would you be content, as an actor, if you spent the next 30 years picking up small roles and occasional series arcs; in other words, are you happy with a career as a something of a blue-collar actor?
CG: YES!! If I could stay in Vancouver (where my family and I live and love) picking up enough to live on that would be my dream. I would love to just do work that inspires me and I tend to get that here. It would be nice to have some big roles but I feel I’m on my way and am happy!