An Interview with Chris Gorham
We had the chance to sit down with actor, director, father and husband, Chris Gorham for the day to talk about his upcoming film “We Love You, Sally Carmichael!” and what it’s like to be a family man and a star.
(909): So, Chris Gorham. You are a husband and a father of three kids. Most people know you from “Covert Affairs” and “Ugly Betty”, now you’ve got a new movie coming out, Correct? Tell us about it.
(Chris): Yes, the movie is called “We Love You, Sally Carmichael!” It’s a completely family friendly independent comedy. It’s about a writer who is trying to keep the world from finding out that he has written this massively successful series of young adult romance novels about a woman who falls in love with a merman under the pseudonym Sally Carmichael.
(909): So he doesn’t want the world to know he is Sally? So is the book in the movie based on a particular romance novel?
(Chris): Yes exactly! So the film is written by a guy named Daryn Tufts, a friend of mine, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. So there’s a long tradition of Mormon writers who write novels like these. The most famous one of course being “Twilight” right? So it’s absolutely a play off of the success of that series and the whole genre of books like that.
(909): Tell me about yourself. How did you get started acting and directing?
(Chris): I wanted to be an actor from a very young age. It was probably around the 4th grade. I was doing a lot of performing in school. I went to a performing arts school in Fresno where I grew up, called Roosevelt School for the Arts. I then went on to major in theater at UCLA. Right after graduating I jumped straight in to trying out. Really my career didn’t take off until about three years after that, when I got a part on Ryan Murphy’s show “Popular” on the WB. That was my first big break and since then I’ve been able to work steadily in film and television.
An interesting tie into Sally Carmichael, my very first acting job was shot in Utah, also in Salt Lake City. It was Danny Boyle’s movie, “A Life Less Ordinary”, I had a tiny little part of “Walt, the gas station guy.” It was the first day of shooting for that film, and it was me, Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz for about half a day, and it was just fantastic. It sort of planted some roots in Utah for me, and I’ve been lucky to get to go back to it, like in the movie “The Other Side of Heaven”, which was also very popular in the Mormon community. It’s this film about a Mormon missionary in the 1950’s by the name of John Groberg. It was based off his memoirs, and I got to work with Anne Hathaway. Then I did “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” with Alyssa Milano, which was directed by Daryn Tufts who wrote “Sally” (We Love you Sally Carmichael!). It was this super sweet romantic comedy, and the tone of that one was very similar to “Sally” and I feel like if you liked that one, you’re going to like this one too.
(909): Do you like working in any particular genre? Are romantic comedies kind of your thing?
(Chris): Yeah! Well, actually I feel like I’ve been able to bounce around genre’s pretty freely. I’ve done horror, I’ve been in a super hero show, I’ve been in sitcoms and medical genres.
(909): Don’t forget animation! I’ve loved your work in the Justice League movies.
(Chris): Oh yeah! I’ve done animation as well ha-ha.
(909): Do you have any major inspirations? What inspired you to choose this line of work?
(Chris): Hey listen, I was very young when I decided that this was something that I wanted to do. If I’m being very honest, I mean, completely honest… I was just getting a lot of attention for it. It just seemed like a thing to just continue, but as far as inspiration for my work? As I’ve grown it’s come from all sorts of places. As a kid my favorite actor was Michael Keaton, and then growing up I’ve come across so many other people who I admire. Henry Winkler is somebody else I really look up to, not just as an actor but as a human being. He’s a person who’s been able to navigate this industry and remain sane, and relevant! I also got to work with Betty White in an episode of “Hot in Cleveland” and she’s amazing, SO talented, and so, still somehow underwritten. Frankly I feel it might be because she’s a woman.
I’ve just been really fortunate, getting to meet all these great and amazing people that I also got to work with over the years.
(909): Do you have any funny anecdotes or stories of your life in Hollywood?
(Chris): Well, I don’t know if this funny, or interesting to anyone else at all ha-ha, but one of the interesting challenges of directing yourself in a film is, and people may be shocked to learn this, but you can’t be everywhere at the same time! You can’t be in front of and behind the camera at all times. As I get to post-production of my new movie, I find that I’m a bit obsessed with symmetry. So things are now, in post-production, driving me absolutely crazy! Like, for instance, in the first scene that I’m in, in the movie, this scene is like two and a half minutes in and you see me sitting on this couch. On this couch are throw pillows, and when you’re watching this movie, just know that every time you see those throw pillows they’re not even and it’s driving me crazy! If I had the budget, you should also know, that I would be using visual effects to fix it! …To fix the pillows on the couch.
(909): Do you have a favorite role? Anything that maybe has stuck with you over the years?
(Chris): Well Auggie from “Covert Affairs” is the role that I’ve played for the longest. So that’s probably going to be the closest to my heart. For a lot of reasons too, not just from the time I got to play him, but it was truly a unique opportunity to make a difference in peoples lives in a real way. There are so few characters with disabilities on television, and even fewer positive and truly heroic portrayals of wounded warriors on TV. To be able to tell that story in a way that I feel was more often than not genuine and accurate was really special.
I’ve actually received a lot of positive feedback from all these wounded veterans who’ve watched the show. I even took a trip up to the Walter Reed Medical Center to meet some of the wounded warriors who are still in treatment for some of the things that have happened, double amputees, quadruple amputees, severe trauma, mentally and physically. These men and woman are heroes, even their families and their children are heroes whose stories are so infrequently told. I’m glad I had the chance to tell one.
(909): Has being a husband and a father changed the way that you do your work?
(Chris): Well, I mean a lot of the projects that are being filmed today, aren’t being filmed locally here anymore. They’re being filmed in Canada, Australia, South Africa…
(909): Places with lower taxes or locations that match sets?
(Chris): Yeah, exactly. So having a family makes those choices harder. Not just which jobs to take, but what job should you even pursue? You know that if you succeed in your pursuit of these jobs, you’re going to be sent half way around the world. That makes it hard. This business, particularly now, can be very difficult on families. Not just for the reasons that most people assume either. In the popular opinion it seems flipped. It’s easy to say “It’s Hollywood, no wonder marriages don’t last,” and it becomes this joke. People don’t understand that we’re not all Taylor Swift, and “Brangelinas.” For your average working actor, it’s tough on families. So you have to really protect your family by trying to stay close to home, even if that means turning down a show in Australia, which I’ve done. Even when I was working on “Covert Affairs” in Toronto, I’d fly home every weekend, because you just have to.
It’s tough though, because that is expensive, and it’s not easy. That said though, I wouldn’t give it up for anything at all. Having a family is something that I’ve always dreamed of, from such a young age I wanted a family, maybe even more than I wanted to be an actor. The rewards from having a family, from raising children are absolutely incalculable and frankly I’m a better actor and director because of that commitment.
(909): I heard you and your wife were actually college sweethearts right? I read that you proposed to her not to far from here at Tiffany’s.
(Chris): College sweethearts? Yeah. The proposal story that’s on my IMDB profile right now is actually a bit untrue though.
(909): Well now’s the perfect time to set us straight!
(Chris): Well, I actually proposed in her apartment. There wasn’t much to it, I just sort of proposed. Then we went to Tiffany’s to get the ring. I didn’t have a ring, I had nothing. I was completely unprepared. Sometimes I find that’s the best way to jump into things. Haha, it’s sort of troubling now that I think about it. I was totally unprepared but what the hell? What’s the worst that could happen right?
(909): Do you come across any weird, untrue celebrity rumors that you find?
(Chris): Nah, no not really. I’m so uninterested with what the press has to say most of the time. I’m a real family guy, I go home at night. I don’t go out to the clubs, I’m just too busy with the kids. I just stay out of trouble.
(909): So what’s a typical Friday night like? Do you have hobbies?
(Chris): Listen, I have three kids. I think any father who says he’s really engaged with everything that’s going on, and with his kids, and has some hobbies is highly suspect. I don’t know how they’d have time.
The kids are fifteen, twelve and seven right now, and by time this issue comes out in January they’ll be fifteen, thirteen and eight. So we have soccer, triathlon, music lessons, and so much more. If we have any time afterward we try to go out and find a movie to watch or do some things together as a family. Also, I have to try to find time to do things with my wife as a couple.
(909): Which I know as a father can be extremely difficult.
(Chris): Extremely difficult yeah. It is also extremely important.
(909): Yeah, that’s true. Do you have any advice for others out there trying to follow in your footsteps? Young actors trying to find work.
(Chris): I have different advice, depending how things are working for you. The optimistic advice for those having things going good would be; you just started and you’re already building a career right? I’d say don’t worry about getting type-casted. Whatever you’re going to get type-casted as, you’ll grow out of it. Take the work as it comes, because there’s always something to learn on a new job.
Now the advice I’d give to that young actor who’s been trying and trying without finding much success is to really think about it. Not just about your career, but your life. What are your life goals? Where do you want to be in 10 years? Do you want a family? Do you want to be wealthy? Is it more important to give back to your community? Figure out the goals and then find out if the career path that you’re on is going to support those goals. If that answer is no, then find something else to do.
You can always act, you can always put up a play, find a small theater, or produce your on stuff. These days film equipment is getting so affordable, you can create your own movies. Financial support in this industry however is hard to come by, and I’ve seen a lot of people sacrifice the lifestyle they wanted for a career that they might never get.
The career will never be as important as your life. So always make sure to take care of that first.
(909): That’s great advice and thank you again so much for your time. I appreciate you taking the time to speak with us at 909.
(Chris): Thank you. It was a pleasure to meet you. Have a good day.