Chris Warren, Jr.
Exploring His Depth
by Deborah Wagner
Christopher Warren Jr. was born with acting in his blood. With both parents in the business, he knew from an early age that it was what he wanted to do with his life.
After paying his dues for over a decade on TV, the big screen and the stage, who would have thought it would be a little Disney Channel movie called High School Musical that would blow his (and several of his co-stars, including Zac Efron, Corbin Bleu, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale) career wide open.
The premier of High School Musical exploded onto the scene in 2006, breaking records and quickly becoming the most watched, and successful Disney original TV movie ever produced. Its modern day Romeo and Julietstoryline really struck a chord with kids worldwide. The equally successful sequel, High School Musical 2 left their adolescent and teenage fans begging and screaming for more. Now millions of excited fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the third installment in this blockbuster saga – due to hit theaters later this year.
In the months leading up to the film release, this talented young actor is stepping out of his teenage role of Zeke Baylor – the varsity basketball player who loves to bake – and showing audiences that he too is graduating into a more mature actor. He’s achieving this with a starring role in the action-packed, made-for-TV movie Depth Charge, premiering on September 1 on Spike TV. Taking on this role of a young submarineelectrician’s mate, Warren fights alongside co-star Jason Gedrick to take back control of their submarine from a disgruntled fellow crewman, played by Eric Roberts.
Chris enjoyed making the film and sees it as a springboard, hoping it will be opening new doors to a long, successful career – well after the music goes silent on High School Musical.
Both of your parents are actors. When did you know that you wanted to follow in the family business?
I think I was probably about five or six and my Dad was actually working on some lines for a play or something. He was doing a Scottish accent and I was around the corner repeating all his lines in a Scottish accent. I think it was ever since then. Then I would go to auditions with him – do commercials and book jobs. It just happened and I really just grew a love for it.
You had already done a lot of television and soap work. Do you think your work on these shows helped you prepare for making films?
Well, I did more films before I did television – like I did Men of Honor and Love and Basketball before a lot of television – so I think it was just a compilation of work around the same time that just helped me have more confidence and know what to do on the set of certain movies and stuff.
When you landed the role of Zeke Baylor in High School Musical, did you realize that it would have been such a huge phenomenon? Why do you think it has become so big?
I guess I didn’t know it was going to be that big when I auditioned for it. When I auditioned for it, it was one of the Disney’s original movies that was going to be on the Disney Channel and I was like, “Okay, well this is cool.” You know, work is work so I am going to go out there and do it. Then I started hearing people talk about it and it was really weird because I had never heard people talk so much about an original movie before. Then it blew up everywhere! I think the reason it is so popular is it’s kind of like a dream come true for a lot of kids who might be outcasts in school or just wish that this was how there school was – where it starts off with cliques and people don’t talk to one another but it turns into a big family community. That’s what a lot of people want at a school but they don’t get in real life.
What are Ashley, Zac, Vanessa, Corbin and the rest of the cast like working with?
Oh, they’re great. They’re awesome! Ever since the first movie we’ve all kind of become a family because we were all out there doing this movie for so long and then it turns into this big thing and then in the second one, we were like “Wow, let’s try to re-create it.” Then in the third one, it was just huge and crazy, but they were all awesome to do it with, like a big family and all the stuff on the outside goes away when we’re on set together.
Did you enjoy singing and dancing before High School Musical?
Yeah. I actually did Lion King the national tour as young Simba. So, I kind of had some experience doing it, but it had been a couple of years. I had gotten a little older and my body had grown a little bit so it became a bit un-orthodox (laughs) – because I was fifteen in the first one and I was going through a very odd stage in my life – but I picked up on it very fast and a lot of people really helped me out.
Can you let me in on anything that will happen to your character in High School Musical 3?
Not so much. (laughs)
Are you still cooking?
Well, of course. That’s a given and I’m still in love with Sharpay.
We definitely saw more of you in the sequel. Will your role be even bigger in the third movie?
Yeah. I think I’m more incorporated in the third movie. You know, just in the way things play out. I think I’m more incorporated.
How different is the new movie going to be, since it’s being filmed for the big screen rather than TV?
There are a lot of things that are different. I mean the quality of the picture, the budget obviously is higher – which changes a lot of things, you know. It gives you more time to really make sure you get the shot youwant and not just have to rush right through. The musical numbers are huge because we have the money for the props and the music is so much better. All around it’s just a better movie.
Your characters are graduating. Do you think this is it for the saga, or do you see some College Musicals coming down the line?
(laughs) Ummm, no College Musicals. I do believe they are going to do fourth and fifth ones but they have new characters coming in.
I know you also have a TV movie coming out called Depth Charge. I did get to watch it last night and enjoyed it. How fun was it to make a movie about a very serious topic but still enjoy some humor with your co-star Jason Gedrick?
Yeah, it was definitely fun. I did it because I wanted to break the mold of the High School Musical thing.
Yeah, exactly. When I did that, I had just turned eighteen and I guess I really wanted to try being in a somewhat leading role in a movie – as practice for other things that I want to do in the future. I mean, it’s a TV movie and I am proud of it – but it was like a stepping-stone for me. It was great working with Jason and Eric – who have been in the business for 20 or 30 years. They helped me out a lot, so it was definitely a learning experience.
Yeah there were a lot of great actors in it. Eric Roberts… like you said… and Barry Bostwick and Corbin Bernsen. It must have been a great learning experience.
It really was.
Are you trying to make movies with everyone in Hollywood named Corbin?
(laughs) Yeah, I must be. (laughs harder)
Your character jokes about Denzel Washington playing him in a movie. Are you a big fan of Denzel or was it all scripted?
It was scripted, but I am a big fan of Denzel. He’s really great.
I noticed in your bio that you had done an episode of the Bernie Mac Show a few years ago. Can you share your feelings with me from when you learned of the recent passing of Bernie Mac?
Oh man. It was really weird. It was like the first person in the industry that had passed away that was kind of a part of my generation that I knew. I had heard of other people passing, but I didn’t know them. Even if I hadn’t worked with him, it would have been a big deal, but after doing two or three scenes with him on his show and really getting to know him, I don’t know… it was very surreal. He was such a great guy. He wasn’t just nice to be nice. He was very real and really, really cool. It was just a surreal moment.
How hard was it to balance acting, your real high school years and sports?
Umm, it wasn’t too hard. I mean it was difficult at times but I think things worked out a lot. My coaches knew I was in the industry and helped me out a lot with certain stuff… so they made it a lot easier. But, it was actually really fun kind of juggling two lives.
I know you had played football in high school, so obviously sports are something you are passionate about off screen too. Are you going on to college and will you continue playing sports, or will you be taking some time off to concentrate on your acting career?
I’m going to take some time off to concentrate on my career. I had a couple of colleges that wanted me to go there for football, but I figured that acting is more of a guarantee. It was a really tough decision because I love football and there were some really great schools that I could have gone to, but I think that I made the right choice.
Besides sports, what else do you enjoy in your down time?
I love swimming, working out… I’m always working out… playing video games and just hanging out with my friends and my parents.
Do you still live with your parents?
Yeah, I do.
Zeke had cooking; do you have any secret skills or passions you’d like to be able to do?
Umm, I kind of wish I could cook. Not bake necessarily but actually cooking stuff.
Like gourmet meals?
Yeah, exactly. I think that’s kind of romantic.
What does the “LC” nickname on your webpage stand for?
Oh, it actually stands for Little Chris. Because, I’m Chris Jr., so my Dad is Big Chris.
What is something you would like your fans to know about you?
Umm… I can’t think of anything…
Is there anyone special in your like right now?
Yeah. Actually, I have a girlfriend.
Oh, anything serious?
Yeah, I think so. You never know, but I think so.
This year is a very exciting election year for America. Now that you are 18, will you be making your voice heard in November by voting?
Yes, of course.
Good for you. Do you want to share any thoughts on the upcoming election with us?
Actually, I’m still trying to figure it out. I mean I like both candidates but I think I am kind of leaning towards Obama. But, both candidates make some good points. But as far as taxes, either way taxes are going to go up.
Do you think the success of the High School Musical movies has opened other doors for you in the business?
Oh yeah. Absolutely. I think that just being part of such a huge thing gives you a second look by a director if you’re up for something. They’re always hoping you can bring that audience to whatever movie they are doing. So, it’s definitely been a blessing to be a part of these movies.
You have done some theater. Any desires to try that again?
I don’t think so. I mean I say that but it always comes back around. I did the Young Playwrights Festival a couple of years ago and just fun stuff like that. But if something comes up, and I can’t say no, I’m sure I will do it but right now I’m just not planning for it.
What’s next for Chris Warren Jr. the actor?
I have a movie that I’m probably going to start next year so that’s one thing. Right now, I’m just taking meetings for other movies and deciding what the next step is going to be. Just trying to make good choices and decide where exactly I’m going to go from here.
|#1 © 2008. Courtesy of BNC. All rights reserved.|
|#2 © 2008. Courtesy of BNC. All rights reserved.|
|#3 © 2008. Courtesy of Spike TV. All rights reserved.|
|#4 © 2007. Courtesy of Walt Disney Corp. All rights reserved.|
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: August 29, 2008.