PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: When I Come to Die Star Chris Chalk

Cue and A   PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: When I Come to Die Star Chris Chalk
 
Chris Chalk, recently seen on Broadway in Fences and currently starring in the world premiere of When I Come to Die at Off-Broadway's LCT3, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire with random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.

Chris Chalk
Chris Chalk Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Chalk made his Broadway debut as Cory in the 2010 revival of Fences, earning a Theatre World Award and a Drama Desk nomination for his performance. He has appeared onstage in Lynn Nottage's Ruined at Manhattan Theatre Club, Unconditional with the LAByrinth Theater Company, The Overwhelming at Roundabout, Defiance at Manhattan Theatre Club and The Hasty Heart at Keen Company.

Screen credits include "Law & Order," "Nurse Jackie," "The Good Wife," "Rescue Me," "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" and the "Rent" film. In Nathan Louis Jackson's When I Come to Die, he plays a death-row inmate given a second chance to look at what's important after an intended lethal injection fails to kill him.

Full given name: Christopher Eugene Chalk (means Noble Bearer of Christ... Chalk)
Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina
Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius... and a lot of it's true.
What your parents do for a living: My mother is a nurse at a mission hospital in Asheville. My stepfather is a retired business owner. He built and worked on houses.
Current audition song/monologue: I don't sing like, "for real." My favorite monologue is from T Bone N Weasel, but folks don't ever wanna hear it. At commercial auditions I volunteer it and they ask me to leave...rude.
Special skills: I can juggle three of those honey-filled plastic bears sometimes.
Skill/talent you wish you had or were better at: I wish someone had the patience to teach me guitar for free so I could be better at that.
First Broadway show you ever saw: Miss Saigon. When that effing helicopter came on the stage I literally could not wrap my head around it. Awesome.
If you could go back in time and catch any show, what would it be? Caroline, or Change. It's not that far back but I missed it.
Recent show you have been recommending to friends: Fela!, In the Heights. Do movies count? If so, "The Prophet" and "Black Swan."
Favorite showtune of all time: "One Day More" from Les Miz.
Some favorite musicals: Passing Strange
In the Heights
Fela!
Rock of Ages (Love, LOVE IT!)
Favorite contemporary plays: Fences
August: Osage County
Pillowman
Ruined
Metamorphoses
The one performance – attended - that you will never forget: Cirque du Soleil's O in Vegas. Mind blowing! One of the best nights of my life.
Music that makes you cry, any genre:

The music that swells up in every movie when the people hug or the guy scores the winning touchdown. Or the music that plays when Bruce Willis dies in Armageddon. Those swelling orchestrations that come at the predictable time in any movie kill me every time no matter how cornily placed.

MAC or PC? What's a PC?
Most played song on your iPod: Cee-Lo's "I Want You"
Performer you would drop everything to go see: Jocelyn Bioh
Most-visited websites: IMDB.com
Success.com
Playbill.com (I'm not just saying that)
The Facebook, unfortunately
The Google
Last book you read: "Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill
Last good movie you saw: "Black Swan"... my mother was NOT into it.
Some films you consider classics: "Rudy"
"A Christmas Story"
"Clash of the Titans" (the real one with stop motion animation)
"Color Purple"
"Willie Dynamite"
Pop culture guilty pleasure: My best friend and my steady got me into "Real Housewives of Atlanta." Scandalous!
Three favorite cities: Barcelona, Asheville, Antwerp
Favorite sport/team/player: Football, J.E.T.S. JETS JETS JETS!!!! Favorite player of any sport is Michael Jordan.
First CD/Tape/LP you owned: First CD was "The Simpsons- Do the Bartman". Don't judge me.
First stage kiss: Anna Chlumsky. It was also the first time on or offstage that someone has spit on my face and in my mouth.
Favorite or most memorable onstage role as a child/teenager: When I was in the 5th grade I was the kid in the song "I'm Getting Nothing for Christmas." I put a tack in Suzie's chair and everything. Some of my best work.
How you got your Equity card: Defiance with MTC.
Favorite pre-/post- show meal: Pre-show meal at Food For Life Supreme on West 116th. I dont eat after shows. It's too late.
Favorite liquid refreshment: Water
Worst flubbed line/missed cue/onstage mishap: LOL! We had an actor out in Ruined so I had a responsibility to grab the bottles at a point that, after 200 shows, I had never grabbed. It was in the middle of a monologue filled with great emotion when I started to think "Now when the hell am I 'sposed to grab those bottles? Man, I should've listened at the put-in rehearsal!"

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But as I was thinking, I was still doing the monologue and I looked over at the actress who was holding the bottles and she was looking at me crooked. I realized it's because I had stopped making any sense with my words. I panicked and, instead of stopping and finding my place, I started to scream at the top of my lungs "THEY... BRING... REFUGEES!!! THEY ARE TRYING TO KILL US!" This was not only wrong but was contradictory to the point I was supposed to be making. To this day I am not sure why I yelled it so loud. My ultra supportive castmates froze.

One — we will call her "Doo Doo" — looked at me and literally whipped her head away and looked at the bar, mouth agape grinning. I still had at least two pages that I was stuck onstage, and everyone starts to giggle, cover their faces and literally turn upstage so that all I see are shoulders bouncing from laughter.

So I then started to (of course in character) giggle as I delivered the rest of my lines... and then at my exit I was trying so hard to get offstage that I ran into one of the tables on the way out. Such a dummy.

Pre-show rituals or warm-ups: I get to the show super early to warm up and meditate and pray and freestyle rap and have a super light workout.
Worst costume ever: Gold trunks in The Rocky Horror Show in college.
Worst job you ever had: Fuddruckers. I was a dishwasher at 15 and they kept me their until like 2 AM. Illegal, I know. We didn't know. I would be rich now.
Who would play you in the movie? William Jackson Harper in my youth and Chike Johnson in my dream sequences.
Who have you played on "Law & Order"? What edition?

Flagship: Alfred Biso, a gun dealer (innocent) and Thomas Walker, a truck driver who bought wife a vacuum for Valentine's Day (innocent) SVU: Len, a kayaker (found dead baby in cooler) and another dude, cell phone stealer (kinda innocent)

CI: Austin Darvis, a dog fighter

Favorite memory from filming your scene in the "Rent" film: Favorite memory (other than not whining about a 16-hour day in the cold with no trailer) is that Jesse L. Martin for the third time remembered who I was with no prodding. It will always touch my heart because my role was perceivably insignificant, but he recalled me from past "Law & Order" episodes and was super kind. Thanks, dude.
Leading man role you've been dying to play: I hope someone's writing it now. Call me.
Leading lady role you wish you could play: Annie
Career you would want if not a performer: Producer or therapist
Three things you can't live without: Balance, love and happiness
Something about you that surprises people: I'm a pretty silly dude. People see me and think I'm super serious. Not the case. Well sometimes.
"I'll never understand why…"

...my neighbors fight, yell and scream at the top of their lungs every night but stay together miserable. Just leave if it's so bad. I'm just saying. Why do people do things that make them feel terrible? Choose option B. or C. Cause option A is obviously not working.

Words of wisdom for aspiring performers?

That you can achieve anything if you take the time to create a clear, specific fluid vision and consistent daily ACTION. Your talent is yours and let it shine. The uniqueness that you possess deserves the full dedication and confidence of your spirit and it's up to you to not let others sour your ambition and your artistic truth. You are enough today!

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