Interview with Chris Bauer

Chris Bauer is known for his role of Andy Bellefleur in HBO’s “True Blood” With the show entering its fourth season next year. Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Chris to discuss his character and how he has changed over through the seasons. We also discussed his other film roles and what he is currently working on besides “True Blood”.

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Mike Gencarelli: Tell us what has been the best part of playing Andy Bellefleur in “True Blood”?
Chris Bauer: The best part for me, so far, is that, like it or not, for better or worse, there’s something about this guy that I love. There’s an essential kind of insecurity mixed with strength and moral fortitude that I’m interested in…that I identify with. I think the guy’s funny. And in a lot of ways I think he’s the portal the audience see’s that world through. And that’s a fun role to have.

MG: How do you feel that your character has grown season by season?
CB: I think he’s gotten more dynamic. He’s gotten more human. He has gone from, essentially, a plot function into a contradictory, complicated character. And that humanity is what I like to bring to a role. To me that’s the difference between a character and an idea. In the first season he was out to break Jason Stackhouse’s balls. (laughs) And that was fun. In the second season we found out a little more of his biographical background. He went on this bender. And his obsession to get things right turned out to be true. And he paid the price for it in the third season. But I would love to see him expand more. I would love to see that whole human dimension take up more space. But in the mean time I think they are continuing to write an interesting and compelling character that I’m very happy to play. This is the sixth TV show that I’ve been a regular on and I’ve never been the kind of actor who gets right up the writer’s ass to find out what they’re going to do with the character. I look forward to the surprise…week to week…to see what happens next. I trust the writers that I work with. I’ve been very lucky in my career to work with very talented and inspired writers. And it’s a thrill to see how the character evolves, symbiotically, through your relationship with the writers and their experience with your work.

MG: What has been the most difficult part of working on the show?
CB: Honest to God, there’s two versions to that. The logistical one…for the first two years I commuted from
New York to L.A. I was out there by myself a lot and really missed my wife and kids. And I’m really not the kind of guy who wants to be flying from coast to coast every ten days. On the creative side, the most difficult thing is unfortunately the downside of one of the strengths of the show. One of the strengths of the show is that it has a library of characters that inhabit a really broad world. And unfortunately, we only have sixty minutes per episode to visit all of these characters. I’d like to think that I keep myself in really fit creative shape. And that I devote my life, and have devoted my life heading into my mid 40s, to getting really good at one thing, which is acting. And if you think of a race horse being good to go as soon as the gate opens, basically the horse gets into a gallop and the race is over. That’s hard. I want to take the ball and run. Very few of us get to do that on “True Blood.” The good thing is what we get to do is pretty rich…it’s pretty interesting. It’s pretty inspired and that makes up for the limited screen time.

MG: What can we expect from Andy Bellefleur in Season Four?
CB: I don’t know! This is the sixth TV show that I’ve been a regular on and I’ve never been the kind of actor who gets right up the writer’s ass to find out what they’re going to do with the character. I look forward to the surprise…week to week…to see what happens next. I trust the writers that I work with. I’ve been very lucky in my career to work with very talented and inspired writers. And it’s a thrill to see how the character evolves, symbiotically, through your relationship with the writers and their experience with your work. But at the same time it’s disappointing sometimes. When you open that script and you don’t have much to do, that’s a disappointment. That’s a straight up “I wanted a 10-speed for Christmas and I got a Big Wheel.” (laughs) But that’s sometimes how it is.

MG: I’m a big fan of the “Masters of Horror” episode “Sounds Like.” Talk about working on that show?
CB: I’m really glad that you saw that, number one. I’m very proud of that piece of work. Brad Anderson directed that and to me he’s one of the greatest filmmakers out there. He’s got it all. He’s a really thoughtful, unique writer. And as a director, you can’t ask for somebody more well prepared and concentrated and really there to support your performance. And on top of that, his aesthetic…if you look at “Sounds Like”…if you look at “The Machinist”…he understands psychological tension…psychological pain. And for some reason, I do to. (laughs) And I got to be the lead, which is what I want…can you tell this is turning into the theme of this interview (laughs)…I feel like I can handle a lot of story on my shoulders. And I was so grateful to Brad for giving me the opportunity to do that. I love the emotional repression that that guy was under and how it drove him crazy. I think that’s very relatable and very human.

MG: Going back in time a bit, you played Lloyd Gettys in “Devil’s Advocate.” Did you enjoy playing such a creepy role?
CB: For some reason that role just stuck in people’s psyche. I honest to God don’t know if it’s because the role really had an honest effect on people or because that movie seemed to run on a loop on TNT 24 hours a day for ten years! (laughs) I mean who didn’t see that movie? It was like “The Rockford Files,” it was never NOT on TV. It was a creepy character. And you know, there’s something a lot of people don’t know about that movie. There’s an insert at the beginning where Keanu Reeves looks under a table and you can see my little greasy hands doing my thing. Those are not MY hands. Not only are they not my hands, they shot that part of the film in L.A. I shot my parts of the film in New York. Taylor Hackford, who’s one of the best directors I’ve ever worked with, he called me and said “I can’t fly you to L.A. to do this but if you’re going to be in L.A. I’d love for you to do it” but I couldn’t because I was working in New York. So somebody else did it and I was having drinks in a bar in the Village many years later and a guy comes up to me and asks, “Yo, dude, I was your hands.” It was some camera assistant and he was the hands. It was kind of funny.

MG: Are you currently working on anything else at the moment?
CB: I’ve got a little part in a movie Robert Redford just directed called “Conspirators.” That was pretty cool to work with him. I have a list of directors that I’d love to work with before they stop making movies and he was definitely on that list. Clint Eastwood was on that list and I worked with him a few years ago on “Flags of Our Fathers.” I was never much of a student and I consider all of these experiences…working with master filmmakers like them…to be my primary education really. It’s such an opportunity and privilege to get to work with these guys. I just finished a David Mamet play. That’s something I like to do every couple of years. I need to get on stage because frankly as an actor you get stronger. Other than that, we start up on “True Blood” in November, so in another month it’s back to the show.

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