Christopher Marquette is only 19, but he’s already amassed a résumé which lists an impressive combination of theater, television and film. But it was in 2003 that he became more prominent in the public eye with a lead in Freddy vs. Jason, the latest in the A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th franchises, and as Adam Rove in Joan of Arcadia.
Ah yes, Joan of Arcadia. The popular freshman show that surpassed expectation and gave people a reason to stay home on Friday nights. The writing is stellar, as is the acting, but most people will quickly tell you that they are hooked on the relationship of Joan (Amber Tamblyn) and Adam. They just might be the Angela and Jordan (or Brian, if you prefer) of the 2000s – just with a longer shelf life. The producers have caught on, making Christopher a regular.
With The Girl Next Door about to hit theaters, Christopher is hanging out at his girlfriend’s place on a rare day off. What could be a better way to top off a good day than a PopGurls interview? Exactly.
What do you hope that people relate to in Adam? What do you try to get across, beyond the words in the script?
I think the most important part of being an actor is making the words come to life, to get across the feelings and words that the writer is trying to create. With any character I [play], what I try to add is a full-on character rather than just what’s written. I try to make [Adam] a very real, down to earth character.
So from the first episode, I tried to create Adam’s connection to Joan. His only connection to anybody in the world seems to be Joan – and that’s what I put out there, get across. Of course, Grace Polk, as they say over and over again, is his best friend since they were in kindergarten and they have this friendship that will never die. But with Joan, [she’s] the first person that he’s been vulnerable with, the first person he’s allowed himself to talk about the things he’s never talked about before, with her. Hopefully, from Adam, people can learn that being open, honest and loyal is what’s going to make an important connection like that exist, what’s going to make an important connection like that last.
People gushed over the final scene between Joan and Adam in “No Bad Guy.” What did you think of the scene?
I thought it came off extremely well. Jim Hayman directed that episode and he did such a great job at taking the necessary beats in that scene and holding them – there’s a lot of silence between the lines that played a really strong subtext to everything Adam and Joan were feeling, and I feel like that’s what really pulled on everybody’s heart strings. Adam and Joan looking at each other – seeing it in their eyes even though they’re not saying it all completely.
It was a really emotional scene, and out of all the ones that we filmed, it’s probably the most emotional because it carries the weight that will end up affecting these two characters for as long as the show goes.
How do you see the Adam/Joan relationship?
I see [Adam and Joan] as being the first two people that they’ve ever opened up to and ever put their hearts in a really vulnerable place. It’s one of those loves that’ll totally change your life: That person will totally affect every aspect of your life, for the rest of your life, regardless of whether you’re with them or not.
About six or seven episodes back, when Adam started going out with Iris, I questioned what was going to happen with Joan and Adam, “Is it sort of lost for now?” The writers told me “No, not lost. It’s just so important that we need to hold onto it a bit longer, build it up a bit more so that when it does happen, it’s that much more important, that much more significant.”
[Their relationship] is so significant that it has to be a push and pull. For two characters on a TV show, things have to last so long: They can’t immediately off the bat have them fall in love and want to be with each other forever because then that would be the only thing they could show in the relationship for the rest of the [series]. Then we’d end up like Joe Mantegna and Mary Steenburgen.
What would you do if one of your friends came to you and explained that they were doing things, odd-but-not-off-the-cliff things, because God speaks to them? Would you completely freak?
That would be hard to say. [If it was] one of my really close friends who I can completely trust and love? I wouldn’t freak. If it’s someone I know well enough wouldn’t be joking, exaggerating or embellishing in something that they heard or saw or felt, I wouldn’t freak. But, if it was sort of an acquaintance – someone I see from time to time – [who] told me that, yeah, it might seem odd. [However,] I’m not one to put down anyone’s feelings about anything, so if someone told me that they felt they were talking to God or seeing some odd things – regardless of religion – I don’t think I’d freak out. It would probably be intriguing and interesting and if someone told me that, I’d definitely have to sit down and talk with them for hours on end.
I’ve had things happen with people that I’ve known – stories that I’ve heard that might freak a lot of people out. And it’s just that, I don’t think people are as open with those things as they are with other things in their lives. I bet that the majority of people have something that they haven’t told [anyone] that would be considered “odd” or could freak somebody out – but they’re still the same person. It doesn’t really change that much.
What do you think about the concept of God? Do you think God ever directs people specifically the way the godhead in Joan does? Or is he more some omnipotent player of SIMS, setting up scenarios and then laughing as the boyband he created fires the help and burns down the house?
No, I don’t think it’s like the SIMS game. As far as being religious – I’m Christian, I do believe God has talked to people and actually has told people to do specific things, like in Bible stories such as Noah and Moses. I do believe in that aspect and the history of my own religion to a certain extent, but as far as my own connection with God, it’s not actually about doing specific things – it’s hard to explain. I just think that God exists everywhere.
God never actually told me to do anything specific, but I feel like there are things that I have done which I felt like God was totally and completely there with me – on my decision and on my experience. It’s confusing and nothing like Joan of Arcadia, but I’ve had moments where I felt like “this is what I should do,” or should be doing.
Let’s say there are three choices you can make: if you make the first choice, you go down this other path, if you make the second choice you go down this path, and if you make the third choice, you go down a completely other path. I feel like God maybe has an effect on your decision, as far as you thinking which path is the best path to take – that doesn’t necessarily mean that he tells you to take a certain one, but, maybe, for someone who believes in God, they have enough faith to where they will feel that God is helping them make the right decisions. Life’s really all about decisions and making sense of things.
Do you find that you no longer say “God” when swearing now? Have you replaced it with something a little more innocent, a la “fudge” or “dang blast it”?
I’ve always been one to say “Oh God!” or “Oh man” or “Oh dude!” so that hasn’t changed so much, as far as being on the show. It hasn’t been brought up by [executive producers] Jim Hayman or Barbara Hall or anybody, and I’m not 99% [sure] that we can’t say “Oh Jesus Christ” or “Oh God” on the show, although I’ve never asked. I haven’t really changed [my reactions], I’ve only changed it on the show – sometimes we do a little adlibbing, sometimes we can have reactions when people say things, like “Oh man.” I’ve definitely censored myself not to say “OH GOD!” or “Jesus.”
Name one CD you have hidden under your seat. Oh, come on. Just one. We’re not asking for them all, here.
Oh, what was the album that Justin Timberlake put out?
Yeah [laughing]. I really do like that CD a lot, I think it’s really good. I think it was so hidden that I lost it – I really do want it back. I was looking for it the other day with my girlfriend. I really want it back.
We’re a bit of *NSYNC fans over at PopGurls, so there’s no mocking of liking the Justified CD – it’s all good.
I really, really like the CD. It’s one of those CDs that everyone… everyone makes fun of Justin Timberlake. I think he’s really so talented and he’s an amazing singer and dancer and when I say that, a lot of my peers are like “What?” because he’s so big he’s become… Sorry, there’s a TV repairman who just came in, and my girlfriend is talking to me about Justin Timberlake right now.
If you were offered a shopping spree in one store, what store would it be, and which department would you hit first?
Besides Wells Fargo where I could just go in and take all the money? Probably Warehouse Music or Virgin or Tower Records. I’d hit the DVD section first and take a copy of every single movie that they sell.
What types of movies do you find yourself drawn to?
Well, my favorite movie is Taxi Driver, so [films] with a lot of performances that created the stars of now – like Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino. And Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall and Michael Caine. [Movies they made when] they were young and my age.
When I started growing up in this business, I got the idea of who Robert DeNiro was from movies like Rocky and Bullwinkle and movies later in his career. So it’s really interesting to see [him and other prominent actors] at their breakout points and what they were doing, 10-15 years before I was born. To see them as young actors, closer to my age – doing things that are interesting to watch, interesting to learn from. Those are the kind of movies I’m drawn to right now.
What movie do you have an unnatural love for?
Final Destination 2. I think those are the craziest death scenes in a movie since Taxi Driver. It’s probably not a movie that will stick with me for the rest of my life, but I was just so entertained by that movie and just loved all the death scenes – not to be morbid or anything, but [it had] really good special effects.
What would you do a Public Service Announcement for? Elevator button-pushing awareness? Public cell phone respectful usage? Not driving like a complete ass?
A PSA about opening doors for people would be nice. That’s a pet peeve of mine – I like opening doors for people. I hate to see someone barge in and totally leave someone with a baby in a stroller, trying to get the door handle and can’t get around.
Opening doors for people – just being kind and courteous, period.
When you were on Saturday Night Live, did you find it more intimidating than doing theater? Did anyone give you any good tips or advice?
I think it was more intimidating than being on Broadway, because some people I acted with, I didn’t realize how famous they were at the time. Like Roddy McDowell, Terrence Mann, Ben Vereen, Rosemary Harris and Jane Adams. People who adults would know – not a nine-year-old child.
Saturday Night Live was [also] a lot more intimidating to do because I got to work with some people where I was like, “Oh.My.God.” I remember seeing The Shadow – it’s a superhero-type movie with Alec Baldwin and they put out action figures. I was obsessed with it. The week after I saw it, Alec Baldwin was on Saturday Night Live and I got to work with him – I just freaked out. That was probably one of the most intimidating times in my life – I wanted to go up and ask him so much about the movie and I totally couldn’t.
On top of it, I was someone who they only brought in for five lines for one skit and they were all totally comfortable with each other but they were all really nice. That was another intimidating factor.
How often did you do it?
I did maybe 15 episodes in two seasons. Maybe a little less than half of them [didn’t] actually go on camera. It’s a weird routine that they do: They [write] 12 skits and perform them in front of an audience and [see which] ones the audience laughs at the most – maybe the eight funniest [go on the live show], they cut the other four. So a lot of the skits that you do, you rehearse, you spend the time in hair, makeup and wardrobe for, and all of a sudden, an hour before they actually do it, they get cut. I wish I could get some of those on tape – not mine, but old skits that didn’t actually make it on air.
What television series are you hoping will come out on DVD?
All my favorite shows are pretty much out on DVD. Oh! Saved by the Bell – if they had Saved by the Bell on DVD, I’d so buy that. Or the original Thundercats cartoon.
They don’t have that out yet?
I don’t think they have that out. They have a new Thundercats series which is really cool, but my childhood was Thundercats – so if they had the original series on DVD, I’d be the first one in line.
What’s one non-basic function thing you do every day? Get a Frosty at Wendy’s? Call your mom? Do six cartwheels down the hall?
I love catching Tito’s Top Four at Four on Power 106 – it’s the best for rap and R&B songs. They’re really funny guys, it’s a really funny show.
So, we know that driving in LA is hellish. What do you think is a worse traffic crime: Putting on a full face of make up (mascara included) while driving down the freeway or reading the paper?
Reading the paper. I think it’s million times more distracting, only because anybody putting on makeup is at least looking completely forward, the mirror is right in front of them within a few inches of their view of the street. But reading the paper is worse – you don’t want to get too involved in a big story on the cover of the LA Times and then all of a sudden find yourself attached to the next car.
What is your favorite tech toy?
Probably my cellphone. I just got a new picture phone, so I’ve been having a lot of fun taking pictures all the time of things I’ve seen.
Do you ever take pictures of yourself?
Yeah, I have. But they always come out crooked and I never get my full face in, so I’ve sort of given up on that.
Every time I try to do it, I either look really horrible or it’s just half of my face.
Yeah, it always ends up that my chin is cut off. I can’t quite get that right yet.
Your performance in The Tic Code was incredible – I thought you were tremendous. Did you spend time with people who had Tourette Syndrome, or did you do a little research and come up with it on your own?
I did both, actually. Before my audition I had no idea what Tourette Syndrome was, so they sent me about five different videos on Tourette’s. One was an episode of Maury Povich having young kids with Tourette Syndrome on the show and one was [a tape of when they auditioned kids with Tourette’s for the role], so I was sort of seeing the difference in all the tics and how Tourette’s affects people in completely different ways.
I also spent time with the writer’s husband who did the score for the film, a good friend of mine named Michael Wolff, who has Tourette’s, and he was sort of my guide for everything; the one I went to with questions. There was also this really nice guy [with Tourette’s] on the set, Frank, who they hired. He was there for me and Gregory Hines to help us out – he basically knew everything about Tourette’s. I spent time with them talking about Tourette Syndrome.
Was it difficult to break character after the scene was over?
Yeah, for the next month after I was done filming, I was always blinking my eyes like I did in the movie. Nothing too affecting on my life – I just couldn’t stop blinking. One eye would blink, because I got used to it so much: It’s all I did for six weeks straight. It just became a little part of me.
Would that be the most difficult thing you had to learn for a role?
Yeah, it really wasn’t that difficult. But [for The Tic Code] I had to learn piano, and learn how to fake piano. I worked so much on that film. I’ve worked more on that than I have on anything else in my life so far. I’m sure on the second season of Joan I’ll be working more than I did on The Tic Code but [for now], it feels like the fullest experience I’ve ever had in this business.
What was the most unexpectedly useful thing you learned for a role?
For Adam Rove, I learned how to weld.
So, you did learn how to weld?
I did, but it’s actually really simple so maybe that’s not the most useful thing.
Well, it can be useful and still be simple.
That’s totally true. I also learned how to box for an episode of Touched by an Angel with Muhammad Ali. I [played] a young boxer in the story, so they gave me boxing lessons. Thank God I haven’t had to use my boxing on anything, but it was cool to actually learn from a professional boxer. That’s a craft for a lot of people, as my acting is for me, so it was interesting to learn from this guy who was really passionate about boxing.
The piano was great – I loved learning the keyboard. About a year afterwards I was still playing keyboard. Then I was working and I couldn’t find time to continue it.
If you had to make a blooper reel from your entire career, what would be the funniest moment?
In Freddy vs. Jason, I had to – gosh, this is embarrassing – I had to ride a scooter through a cornfield and then stop within a foot of a camera. And I’m the most uncoordinated person when it comes to riding a motorcycle or a scooter, any kind of a bike with a motor on it – even a Go-ped is hard for me. Basically, I rode through this cornfield, it was only about 30 feet that I had to ride and then I had to stop really quick. But the problem was that I had this gigantic helmet on and these cornstalks were hitting me in the face and I was trying to cover my eyes to make sure I didn’t get hit in the eye. Then all of a sudden I had to look up and the cornfield ends and I had to slam on the brakes.
One time, instead of pressing the brake I got nervous and accidentally pressed the gas. I crashed into the producer of the movie and almost hit the camera and for some reason I was still so nervous that my hand was still clenched to the gas, so the scooter went on the back wheel and did a wheelie. The camera, god knows how much the camera would cost: Some $500,000 piece of equipment I’m about to ram a scooter into. So, I was freaking out. That might be the most embarrassing – and it’s all caught on film.
I was really disappointed: I thought it was going to go on the DVD as an outtake, but it didn’t end up on the DVD. I want to see if somehow I can get a copy of it. It’s probably the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me.
It sounds fantastic, though.
Yeah, especially the fact that I was really confident in [the stunt]. I was like, “I can do this, I can do this.” The stunt coordinator, the guy teaching me how to ride the scooter, the producer, the director, and the first AD [asked] “You’re okay to go? You can do this?” and I said, “Yeah, man, this is no problem.” And the first take – it’s like, chaos. I hit a guy with the scooter – the producer, nonetheless – and then almost wreck the camera.
So when you got the script for The Girl Next Door, were you all like “Porn! Yeah! Woo!”? Or was it more that you were interested in the human side of the story?
The human side… it’s not really a movie about porn, it’s a movie about love and a movie about finding yourself – and for me, when I watch the movie, it’s a feel-good movie. It’s about friendship and love – that’s what they explore the most. “How far would you go for love” – exactly what the tagline says.
I loved the character I played from the moment I read the audition sides. [It was] a character that had a lot of depth and was really funny and witty, and my character was obsessed with porn. But that’s not what got me excited – “Oh my god! I can play an obsessive porn freak!” It takes a certain kind of eccentric character to be obsessed with porn, and maybe that’s what I liked about it – it gave me something to play with and have fun with.
What would you do if you found out the girl you were dating was a one-time burlesque performer? Snake charmer? Bee keeper? What if she wanted to get back into it and asked you to join her?
I think that would put a really interesting twist on somebody – to find out that somebody does something that you didn’t know they could do. I always heard that my girlfriend could sing, but I never heard her. One day, I heard her sing and I thought she had such a beautiful voice – [hearing her sing] made me love her and appreciate her a million times more.
I’m sure if my girlfriend told me that she was a snake charmer five years ago and wanted to get back into it and wanted me to help her out, then I’d definitely be right there and try not to get bitten by a cobra.
Like you mentioned earlier, the tagline of The Girl Next Door is “How Far Would You Go For Love?” Well, how far would you go for love? Down the street? Across town? Across the country?
For my girlfriend, the love of my life – I’d go to a different solar system. Way off the planet if I had to. As far as I could go, as far as my feet would carry me.
Is she still sitting right there?
Ah, no, not right now.
It’s a very good, sweet answer anyway.
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