PHOTOGRAPHY BY: PAYAM
CHAD MICHAEL MURRAY
INTERVIEW BY: MICHAEL WILLIAMS
STORY BY: KATINA GOULAKOS
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: PAYAM
Imagista: How did somebody from Buffalo end up in Hollywood?
CMM: At the time, it seemed a lot further away, and this was before social media. It was something I really wanted to do on my 18th birthday, was to jump in a car and be a movie star.
Imagista: Is that what you did?
CMM: Basically, I always loved film growing up. I remember there was a decisive moment when I watch Primal Fear and I remember thinking that is what I wanted to do, that was the moment I was sure I wanted to be an actor. My father was incredibly supportive and I basically took my graduation money and saved it all up and after my birthday I hit the road.
I did not have a lot of connections or know very many people. I was fortunate to be introduced to two people that really took me under their wing and introduced me to other people. From there I got an agent and a manager and hit the road running. I was one of the lucky ones that it happened to very quick, I was working at WB by January 2000 doing screen tests.
Imagista: Did you do acting in high school? What exactly prepared you for this?
CMM: Ignorance and the brass balls of an eighteen-year-old. I think if you look back at it, you think what a ballsy move it is but at the time I just saw an opportunity and I just wanted to go get it. I was a sports guy, the theater was not my world but I was a performer, that’s what I loved to do at home was put on skits and I loved it.
Imagista: Tell me a little bit about your role in Sun Records, do you have a musical background?
CMM: Musically, I love country music I can’t help it. To me, it is the purest form of music. I was raised on oldies, I have close ties to listening to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lewis and Jonny Cash. I never listened to contemporary music or what was cool. My father was more traditional and did not want to raise us on that music, so I grew up listening to classic rock. I, of course, had a good understanding of who these mega-artists were but I did not know the full story about the man behind the curtain. When they were bringing the show to market with CMT they called me up and told me that they thought me and Sam would really hit it off and they sent me the script and once I read it and did a little bit of research I was floored. Just being able to portray this pioneer that brought Rock and Roll to the world. This role was an opportunity to stick my teeth into something new and as an artist, those are the things that I crave.
Imagista: Has this role had a direct effect on your career?
CMM: That is a great question but I can’t specifically get the answer to that. I think no matter what, every job is going to have an effect on your career that’s the right answer. For the last few years, these are the types of roles that I have been searching for and I have been lucky enough to have opportunities. I did Outlaws and Angels, which went to Sundance. That was a complete departure playing a 40-year-old outlaw, so that was one step in that direction. I then played a homeless heroin addict in a film called Other Peoples Children, which was a different role for me. My last few years have been about trying to always challenge myself so the opportunities that are coming for me, I am hoping and praying it continues to open more doors for me. I want to continue to do these kinds of things, I do not want to be in a box, I want to have the opportunity to always get excited when I am going to work, having something new and fresh, something that scares me just enough to the point where I think “I may fall flat on my face but I am going to die trying.”
Imagista: So you have a novel coming out?
CMM: Yeah, November 14th it’s about 5 or 6 years in the making. It is called American Drifter and I teamed up with Heather Graham (the novelist not the actress), who is an incredible, deep and passionate woman who is full of life. We sat down and collaborated on this and broke down an incredible story that is coming to the marketplace this November.
Imagista: How did writing come into formation? Was that something you always wanted to do as well?
CMM: I have always written. Since I moved to Los Angeles and maybe even before that, I just loved telling stories. I always wrote terrible versions of scripts, or this or that and a few of these things are gold. This is my second book actually; my first book was a graphic novel in 2011 called Everlast. That was my first step into the marketplace being an author. I also wrote an episode of One Tree Hill back in 2006, so I guess it has always been a passion of mine.
Imagista: What is it you get as a person from writing?
CMM: I could not tell you if I tried. It’s like you love reading, what do you get out of it. It is something that you do not know how to stop. When I am in my trailer and I am on set, I can’t just sit there, my brain is moving and I am compelled to write. I hope to be able to take these stories and inspire others to create or just forget about the mundane aspects of life or whatever pain they are going through, to just have an escape. I hope to be able to continue to do it, American Drifter is a really exciting moment for me and to know that people are responding to it is a very cool feeling.