On this week’s episode, I have actor Chris Gorham, (Out of Practice, The Lincoln Lawyer, NCIS: Los Angeles and many many more) and we dive into the origins of his career. We also discuss the work-life balance he has with his family and some of the things he wishes more actors were aware of while filming. There is so much more, so tune in.

Show Notes

Chris Gorham on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chrisgorham/

Chris Gorham IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0330913/

Chris Gorham on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Gorham

Michael’s Online Screenwriting Course – https://michaeljamin.com/course

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Autogenerated Transcript

Chris Gorham:
But in getting to know them and talking to them, Almost all of them had day jobs, like worked for the city, Worked, worked for construction crews. They had full-on-day Jobs. Some of them were Entrepreneurs, some of them worked in government. And that was a New idea to me because that hadn’t been my experience here. But as the income and equality has increased so dramatically, It feels like that’s where our business has been going, where everybody has to have another,

Michael Jamin:
You are listening to, what the hell is Michael Jamin talking about? I’ll tell you what I’m talking about. I’m talking about creativity. I’m talking about writing, and I’m talking about reinventing yourself through the arts.

Chris Gorham:
Like my backdrop, this is my, oh, I love it. Official SAG after LA delegate backdrop that we used him during the convention.

Michael Jamin:
I know you’re a big show. We’re starting already. I’m here with Chris Gorham, and he is an actor I worked with many years ago on a show called Out of Practice. He’s one of the stars that was a show with starting Henry Winkler, stocker Channing, Ty Burrell, Chris Gorham, and Paul Marshall. It was a great show on CBS and only lasted a season. But Chris, Chris is about as successful working actors as you can, short of being like someone like Brad Pitt, who’s known across the world. You’ve done a ton of TV shows, and I’m going to blow through them real fast here.

Chris Gorham:
Okay. You can, I can’t talk about them still, but your strike is over so you can,

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, right, because Chris is, I guess he’s in sag and actually you’re one of the members, you’re one of the, what do you call yourself, the king? So

Chris Gorham:
I’m the king of SAG aftra. No, I was elected to be on the LA local board and also elected as a delegate. So that’s what this background was. Our official LA delegate background for

Michael Jamin:
The research delegate for for the model. What does that mean

Chris Gorham:
For the convention? Yeah. It’s kind of reminiscent of Model un. So it’s the convention that happens every two years where all the delegates get together and we elect the executive vice president, and there’s certain offices that get elected by the delegate membership.

Michael Jamin:
I don’t think we have that in the Writer’s Guild. I think we have a direct democracy. You, I guess have a representative democracy.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. Yeah. It’s a much bigger union. How big

Michael Jamin:
Is it? How big do you know? About

Chris Gorham:
160,000 members.

Michael Jamin:
Wow. Okay. Members, but that’s active members. And what do you have to be to be an active member?

Chris Gorham:
What do you have to be? Do

Michael Jamin:
You have to sell? You have to work a certain amount or something?

Chris Gorham:
No, once you’re in, you can stay in as long as you pay your dues

Michael Jamin:
Every year. Oh, okay. But then that doesn’t mean you get health. You have to qualify for health insurance and stuff like that. Correct.

Chris Gorham:
Well, it’s a big part of the strike. It’s one of our big talking points really is only about 13% and just under 13% earn enough to qualify for our healthcare plan. And I mean, that’s only about $26,700 a year to qualify for healthcare.

Michael Jamin:
That’s a big deal. I mean, healthcare, healthcare. So most people don’t realize this, and it seems so naive to say this, but I get so many comments when on social media, all these actors are millionaires. Dude, what are you talking about? You can be a working actor and book two gig. You’re lucky if you do two gigs a year. And

Chris Gorham:
Well listen, it goes to the heart of what this strike is about is that it’s worse than people even think because just to what’s the best way to talk about it? So a big part of our asked during this negotiation is a big increase in the contributions to our health and pension plan by the producers. And the reason is that they haven’t increased it in a long, long, long, long time. So for instance, one person could work, let’s say you got hired to do an episode and got paid very well, right? For one episode. Let’s say you’re getting it, it’s an anthology show. They’re paying the top two people like series regulars, and you’re getting a hundred grand for one episode. So you would think a hundred thousand dollars. That is a lot of money for one episode. If I’m doing that, I am clear. Definitely qualify. You do not qualify for healthcare because you’ve only done one episode and the producers only have to contribute up to a certain amount. So even though you’ve made a hundred grand in one episode, you still have to book another job, at least one more

Michael Jamin:
And clear,

Chris Gorham:
Not going to qualify for healthcare.

Michael Jamin:
I’ve produced a lot of shows. I don’t recall ever paying a guest star anywhere close to a hundred thousand an episode. No, not even close.

Chris Gorham:
No, no. And the minimums have, right now, I think for a drama, the minimum’s around $9,000, maybe a little more than that for an episode for top of Show guest start like the top paid guest shows on those shows. Yeah, you can’t. And it’s become almost impossible to negotiate a rate higher than the minimums.

Michael Jamin:
You can have a quote and they go, well, that’s too bad. This is what we’re paying you.

Chris Gorham:
Correct. This is what we’re paying you.

Michael Jamin:
Let me just run through some of yours so people know who we’re talking about because some people are listening to it. So Chris is, I’m going to blow some of his bigger parts, but he works so much. So let’s start with Party of Five where you did four episodes, which I love that show. I just had to mention that, but of course, popular. You did a ton of those. Felicity, remember that? Odyssey five, Jake 2.0, which you started in medical investigation out of practice, which I mentioned Harper’s Island Ugly Betty, Betty Laa, which I loved, of course, covert Affairs and what else? I’m going through your list here. Full Circle two Broke Girls. You worked with two of the broke girls and insatiable the Lincoln lawyer, and that doesn’t include any of your guest chart. So you are incredibly successful actor and you’ve strung, actually, I want to hit on something. Sure. So this is a little embarrassing on my part. We had a technical, this is our second interview because I had technical errors on my point. I’m not that good with technology, even though I’ve done well over a hundred episodes of this, and Chris graciously allowed me to do this over. But one of the things that you said, the thing that struck me the most during our last talk, which I found incredibly interesting and humble, I said to you, Chris, how do you choose your roles? And do you remember what you said to me?

Chris Gorham:
Yeah, yeah, of course. Yeah. I said, I should be so lucky. Yeah. The reality is, it’s like actors like me. I’ve had a lot of conversations with actors like me who star on television shows, multiple television shows, and we all joke about how many times we’ve been asked in interviews. The question

Michael Jamin:
Really,

Chris Gorham:
Why did you choose this to be your next project?

Michael Jamin:
Right. Well, I wanted to eat. That’s why.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah, yeah. Because I think journalists sometimes forget, and they think that we’re all to use your example, Brad Pitt, and that we’re being sent scripts and we get to choose what our next project is, but in reality, that is not at all. What happens, what happens for the vast majority of us is we are sent auditions. Sometimes we get the scripts, sometimes we don’t. And we put ourselves now what used to be going to the casting office. Now we put ourselves on tape and we send it off into the void, and we hope that we get hired.

Michael Jamin:
And you’ll work on a part. When you do get the script, how long will you spend preparing for that before you submit your tape?

Chris Gorham:
Oh, it depends mostly on two things. One, how many pages it is, and then it depends on how well written it’s, to be honest. You’ve heard this before.

Michael Jamin:
Go ahead. Tell me.

Chris Gorham:
The better the writing, the easier it is to memorize.

Michael Jamin:
Right. And explain why that is.

Chris Gorham:
Well, the reason is is because it makes sense. If it’s written like a human being talks, then the next sentence follows from the sentence before. If you understand the emotion of what’s going on, then it just makes sense and the dialogue flows and it’s just so much easier to memorize. The stuff that’s always the hardest is when you’re the character that’s laying pipe and you’re just spewing out exposition and it’s not really coming. Listen, the good writers are always trying to tie it down to that emotional reality, but sometimes you got to lay pipe, and that’s stuff’s always the hardest, particularly if it’s a bunch of medical jargon or legal jargon. That kind of stuff is crazy.

Michael Jamin:
And what people don’t also realize, I think, is when you’re starting out an actor, oh, I could play everything. I could play a villain. I could play a teacher, I could play a biker, I could play a doctor. That’s fine when you’re in your high school play, but in Hollywood, you’re going to be cast the part that you are closest to because if not, we will cast someone who looks like a biker or who was a biker, and we’ll cast someone who looks like a doctor. Right? Yeah. So you have to figure out who you are, basically.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. Well, it’s one of the, I went to theater school at UCLA and I was very lucky because during my freshman year, they decided to start a conservatory program within the theater program there. So we all auditioned and I got into this conservatory program. So for my last three years, it was conservatory training, and I still got my bachelor of arts degree from UCLA. It was the best of both worlds. One of the things that I felt like a few years out after having it is I wished they had spent a little bit more time helping us learn how to act like ourselves. You spend so much time in theater school, learning how to stretch your creativity, working on your voice, working on your body movement, body awareness, vocal awareness, and then learning how to play all these different kinds of parts and all the plays you’re doing. All the parts are filled from college students. So sometimes you’re playing an old man, sometimes you’re playing a young woman who knows. But the second you start auditioning for roles professionally, you’re only going to be seen for roles that you physically look like. And so it’s really important to quickly learn if you haven’t already, how to be you. Right. How do you do that version of you?

Michael Jamin:
Where do you begin with that?

Chris Gorham:
Well, it takes practice. We used to do an exercise. It was in one of the very beginning acting classes. In fact, I didn’t even take this acting class. I was observing, I think my senior year, one of the grad students was teaching it. And it was just as simple as everybody got in circle and instead of being crazy and dancing like a tree or whatever, it was literally, it was just walk across. Just walk from point A to point B. Just you just don’t do anything. Just walk from what, and you would be surprised how difficult that can be because

Michael Jamin:
You become self-conscious of what you’re

Chris Gorham:
Exactly right. You become and you feel like you should do something mean. And especially for a bunch of theater kids who’ve kind of grown up in their theater school, all high schools and stuff all over, it’s all about being big, and it’s all about the jokes and getting attention and to let all of that go and just be in the market is a very difficult thing for a lot of people. But it’s super, super important. And that carries through forever. Just being just be there. You don’t have to do anything, particularly when you have a camera on you, and particularly when it’s time for your closeup, you don’t have to do a lot. You just have to be there and be present and alive in the scene.

Michael Jamin:
But so much, I think some people, they greatly underestimate how difficult acting is because it looks like make-believe and whatever. We’re just, you’re having fun on the camera, but to be in the moment, especially when the cameras are on you and everyone’s watching in, go hurry up and go, because we’ve set up the scene for half hour and we want you to shoot it now. And it’s so hard to stay in the moment, I think. So how do you stay in the moment when you become conscious that you’re acting

Chris Gorham:
Now? If I become conscious that I’m acting now, I’ll just stop.

Michael Jamin:
You will

Chris Gorham:
Often I’ll just stop and say, can we start over? Can we just go back to the top because for whatever reason, and then go again. Because if I’m conscious, then I’m not in a scene, then it’s not going to work and they’re not going to be able to use it. So I would just stop and go back. I mean, it’s the great advantage of film, right?

Michael Jamin:
But you do much theater anymore, because that’s different when you’re on stage.

Chris Gorham:
I only feel like benefits and things for years. We’re rehearsing for one this weekend, we’re doing the Girls Benefit to raise money for breast cancer research.

Michael Jamin:
So it’s one show.

Chris Gorham:
It’s one show. I mean, for me, I’ve been a single income family of five for almost 23 years. So with that, I haven’t able to afford to go and do theater, but I miss it. I love it. I did two weeks, 14 years ago, I did two weeks in Spalding Gray Stories left to Tell in New York off Broadway.

Michael Jamin:
Really? So you were Spalding Gray, I mean, it’s a one man show,

Chris Gorham:
Right? Yeah, yeah. Well, it’s a one man show split into five different personalities. So it’s different parts of him. And so the business part, they would swap out celebrities every two weeks. And so I came in and did that for two weeks, and it was the best.

Michael Jamin:
And this was in New York?

Chris Gorham:
Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
That’s amazing. How did something like that come up? How do you get that?

Chris Gorham:
I don’t know. I don’t remember. I don’t mean it must’ve come through my agents or my manager. I don’t remember. I don’t remember.

Michael Jamin:
Wow. How interesting.

Chris Gorham:
Because now, I was just going to say now, it’s been so long since I’ve done, I’ve become, I’m so out of the loop of LA theater in particular, which is kind of more feasible for me at this point, just because it’s close and easy. I don’t even really know how to get back in. In fact, one of my youngest was doing a summer theater camp at Annoys Within, and it’s close to where we are. So I was trying to figure out, I reached out to my manager, I was like, Hey, is really close. Is there, are they doing anything that would make sense for me to do something with them over there? They were like, yeah, that’s a great idea. And they never heard anything. So I just emailed them my photo and resume with a letter, and I never heard anything back. So I literally, I don’t even know how to approach getting cast in theater anymore,

Michael Jamin:
Because your agent, there’s not enough money for your agent to work on it.

Chris Gorham:
They couldn’t be less interested.

Michael Jamin:
I’m always curious how that works. We just saw a show at the Pasadena Playhouse and I was like, well, how do these actors, how do they, yeah, if

Chris Gorham:
You find out, let me know the Playhouse also write down the street. It’d be amazing.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, there’s always some, but then again, you would have to commit to something. And during that time period, let’s say it was two months, you can’t take other work you’ve committed and something big could come along, who knows? I

Chris Gorham:
Mean, maybe. But also that is, you live with that fear all the time, no matter what

Michael Jamin:
Do you mean even if you’re on a show, you mean?

Chris Gorham:
Well, not if you’re on a show, then you’re working well, then you worry about the show being canceled and then that you’re never going to work again. But when you’re not working, well, this brings up two thoughts. One is there’s a fear of taking something that’s not the big thing, because you are afraid that if you do this smaller thing that it’s going to conflict with the big thing that might be just around the court. And the other thought that it brings up is I talked with so many actors over the years who are not working and are really struggling and feel paralyzed about going to try and do anything else because there’s this intense peer pressure that, well, you can’t quit. You can’t quit now that your moment, it might be just around the corner, it might be the next audition.

Michael Jamin:
You mean quit Hollywood and do something for a different career, you

Chris Gorham:
Mean? Yeah, go do something else. You got to hang in. You got to hang in. And I feel like it’s a really difficult balancing act because the truth is that this business is really, really hard to go back to the strike. It’s gotten increasingly difficult to the point where it’s almost impossible with an actor to make a living, to be able to raise a family, to be able to put your kids through college and those kind of life things that are important to so many of us.

Michael Jamin:
And I know, and that’s why you fight and that’s why you fight. And that’s why it’s so people think, well, so what for actors? But the problem is like you’re saying, if actors can’t make a living in between or you’re starring in a show, that’s great, but the show will probably get canceled up to one season. But you still need to keep a healthy talent pool of actors who can continue to keep a living, because if they can’t, they’re going to leave. And then how are you going to cast as writers and producers? How do you cast this part if there’s not a healthy talent pool? That’s

Chris Gorham:
It. That’s it. We can’t continue paying the stars these massive, massive, massive amounts of money and having everybody else working on these tiny minimums because it’s unsustainable. The best and the brightest of us that haven’t won the lottery are going to go do other things because there’s more to life and life. You can be an actor without pursuing it as a career.

Michael Jamin:
But I haven’t heard those notions come up at all. Maybe I’m not just tuned in, but the idea of, well, maybe we’re paying the stars too much, or has that been a discussion at all?

Chris Gorham:
I mean, I have that discussion. Yeah. Oh, really? Well, yeah, because it’s not that, well, certainly for me, and not so much from my personal experience, but just from my kind of bleeding heart observations of this business, when you see movies, it’s why, like I’ve said for a long time, the only way now to make a living in this business is if you’re a star or a series regular on a TV show.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yes, I agree with that. It’s the

Chris Gorham:
Only way because all of the supporting cast, none of the supporting cast makes enough money to make a consistent living in this business because your stars get massive amounts of money. Everyone else is working scale, and the minimums have not risen nearly enough to make it enough. And the stars, well, this is the excuse the studios use, is that they’re paying the stars so much. There’s no money left to pay anybody else over scale, so no one else can negotiate over scale. And in tv it’s a similar thing. So it just makes it very difficult.

Michael Jamin:
And not only that, LA has always been an expensive city to live, but now it’s crazy. It’s like crazy. I can’t afford, if I hadn’t bought my house when I did it, I couldn’t even come close to affording this house and have a middle class house. It’s something special about it. So these are the issues that actors are fighting over. Yeah, it’s an important, it’s so interesting when you hear your friends or colleagues thinking about leaving, do they tell you what they’re going to do or what they want to do? It’s such a hard thing when you’re middle aged, what are you going to do?

Chris Gorham:
Right. No, it’s true. It’s true. No, I have some friends that have gone into teaching.

Michael Jamin:
Okay.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. Most of my actor friends are still around. Have one friend who started the business ages ago and still runs that business while she’s worked periodically as an actor throughout all of these years. And she still works frequently, but her main income is from this business that she created. Right.

Michael Jamin:
She’s very, so you got to be entrepreneurial, basically. Yeah.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. It’s funny. I did a movie early in my career where we shot in Tonga and New Zealand, and we had a lot of New Zealand actors were working on this film and in talk, and some of them were quite famous in New Zealand. They were working on this famous New Zealand TV show, like legitimate celebrities. But in getting to know them and talking to them, almost all of them had day jobs, worked for the city, worked, worked in construction crews. They have full on day jobs. Some of them were entrepreneurs, some of them worked in government. And that was a new idea to me because that hadn’t been my experience here. But as the income inequality has increased so dramatically, it feels like that’s where our business has been going, where everybody has to have another gig.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Chris Gorham:
It didn’t used to be that way. And I don’t think that it has to be that way.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, I agree with you. Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely, yeah, it seems very unfair. It doesn’t seem, well, I mean, I guess all things is fair about being an actor. Being an actor has always been a pursuit of like, well, is there anything else you could do? Then choose that? But true, it seems like now it’s like, I don’t know. What do you do? What recommend then for people, young kids or kids, whatever, 20 year olds who considering getting into the business?

Chris Gorham:
Yeah, I mean, that advice I think is evergreen. That if you can go do something else as a career, absolutely do something else as a career. Oftentimes the advice I give is when you’re young, spend a lot less time thinking about what you want to be when you grow up and spend a lot more time thinking about what kind of life you want to live when you grow up, what kind of things do you want to do? And then you can find career paths that will allow you to live the kind of life you want to live. And it becomes less obsessed with having a certain job.

Michael Jamin:
Well, that’s something to consider. So for you as a working actor, sometimes you’ll be on location, you might be in a different city. Is that something you away from your family, which is hard as you were raised in a family, is that something you considered? Is that something you would reconsider now?

Chris Gorham:
I had no idea. I grew up in Fresno, California. My mom was a school nurse. My dad was an accountant. They didn’t know what to do with me, and I didn’t know anything about the business. I wanted to be. Yeah, I didn’t know. Yeah. I had no idea. And so my first, and I was very fortunate. I got out of school, I started, I got my union card in 1996, the year I got out of school was booking occasional guest stars on things. My first job was one scene in a movie with two big movie stars, big famous director. It was awesome. And then I booked my first series just three years after school. Cool. And it was shot at Disney. It was like 10 minutes away from our little place we were renting. And then it was canceled and it came out of nowhere. And then I was very fortunate again. I booked another series two weeks later, but that one shot until long

Michael Jamin:
And

Chris Gorham:
I had no idea what that meant. And I left to do that pilot six weeks after our first born son, our firstborn was born. So my wife, anal had no idea what no idea we were doing. Suddenly we had a newborn baby, six weeks old, and then I’m gone for five weeks. It was extraordinarily difficult.

Michael Jamin:
I apologize. Something must be open and I have to shut it down because someone’s, I’m sorry.

Chris Gorham:
Oh, no worries. Okay.

Michael Jamin:
I thought everything shut. But yeah, so to continue, so that’s heartbreaking. You have a brand new baby and you’re out of town. You left here.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. It was hard. And we didn’t, because we didn’t grow up here, so we had no experience. I don’t know how to do this. And no one was really kind explaining to us, okay, this is how you get through this. These are the different ways you can do it. These are the options. You know what I mean? I didn’t have anybody, I didn’t have a mentor or somebody guiding me in how to do this thing.

Michael Jamin:
But at any point in your career, you must, because worked for so many actors, you must have at some point found someone a little older and wiser. Right?

Chris Gorham:
Well, the closest thing we had was Anelle had Stacey Winkler. It was really sweet. Anelle used to sit next to Stacey Winkler at every taping, and they would just talk and Stacey would give her advice, and it was great. One week, Anelle come to the taping, and the next week Stacey scolded her and was like, you have to be here every week and let everyone know that that is your husband.

Michael Jamin:
Interesting. I remember she came to, I think every out of practice,

Chris Gorham:
Everyone.

Michael Jamin:
So why is it about staking your territory? What was that? Or is this being supportive?

Chris Gorham:
What was it? No, I think it was both, but I think partly staking your territory. I was the young guy, the young handsome guy on this show, and it’s a CVS show, and so she was like, you need to be here. But then it was also she said, but then he’s the star here at work. You have to make sure that when you get home, the kids are the star, not him. You have to make it very

Michael Jamin:
Clear. Was there a difficulty for you? Is it hard to go home and not be the star? What was that like?

Chris Gorham:
I had gotten pretty good at it, certainly by then. But I would imagine looking back in the beginning, it’s kind of that power corrupt and absolute power. Corrupt absolutely. Of course can go to your head when you are getting a little famous and you’re making some money. And when you’re at work, you are catered to, you’re one of the stars of the show. You’re catered to a handed foot. Everything’s taken care of. I’ve described it as series regulars are treated like fancy

Michael Jamin:
Babies on set.

Chris Gorham:
Don’t upset the babies. You need to keep them safe at all times. You need to keep them comfortable at all times. You don’t want them crying. You don’t want them cranky. You need to keep them fully regulated because when everything’s ready to roll, we need the fancy babies to be able to perform. And as soon as they’re done, we want them to go back to their cribs slash trailers so that then the grownups can finish getting everything ready for the next shot.

Michael Jamin:
And imagine giving this kind of pressure to a child actor. I mean, have you worked with many child actors?

Chris Gorham:
Yeah, many over the years, and I can say almost all of it. Almost all of it’s been a good experience. I haven’t had any total nightmares with child doctors. That being said, every parent that’s asked us about getting their kid into the business, we have always advised against it. And we didn’t encourage any of our kids to get into it.

Michael Jamin:
It’s rough. I haven’t worked with many child, I just haven’t been on shows with a lot of kids. And I am glad because I have a feeling I would when a kid is messing around on set in between takes or just not being professional because they’re acting like children the way they are supposed to act. In my mind I would be thinking, stop fucking around. This is work. I know that’s what I would be thinking, which is an awful thing to put on a child. But that’s what you’re paying them a lot of money to do. It’s a hard position. I don’t know. I just feel for those kids, I just feel like, yeah, I know. That’s where Ill be thinking. Hopefully I wouldn’t be saying it. Yeah,

Chris Gorham:
It’s difficult. It’s very, I mean, sets are, they’re not for kids. They’re an adult work environments, which by the way, some adult working actors need to be reminded occasionally that these are adult working environments. This is not your personal playground. But yeah, it’s a difficult environment for kids. So I mean, you need them. So I’m grateful that they’re there.

Michael Jamin:
I think that too sometimes. Sometimes I’ll see an actor goofing around too much, and we’re all, I’m like, dude, let’s get out of here. All the crew wants to go home. They’ve been working 12 hour days for the past week and a half. They want to go home too.

Chris Gorham:
Well, let me tell you, this is one of the things where with every showrunner that I’ve become friendly with, I highly encourage them, if at all possible, to bring their series regulars behind the curtain and bring them to at least one production meeting that show them how the sausage really gets made, expose them to all of the other incredibly creative, intelligent, wonderful people who make up this team that makes the TV show or the film. Because then they get to see, because as cast, especially as the stars of the show or the film, you really are treated as if you are the most important cog in this machine. And it’s really helpful, I think, and just the team morale, if actors understand that they are a very important cog in that machine, but just one of the cogs in the machine. You

Michael Jamin:
Said you learned this, I think when you first were directing, you started directing episodes of the shows, you weren’t, right?

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. I had think a basic actor’s understanding of how things work on set. And I’m not to blow my own horn. I’m generally a nice person. So I’m kind to people. I’m nice to everybody on set. I learned people’s names. I generally understood what people did, but only when I started directing did I really understand just how incredible the whole ensemble is and how much the rest of the team has to offer and is contributing to the show or the film. It was just a level of respect that I don’t think I could really have until I was allowed behind the curtain to see how it was happening. So what

Michael Jamin:
Would you recommend? Would you recommend that every week one actor attends a production meeting? Is that what you’re saying?

Chris Gorham:
Listen, that’s one way to do it. Right. However it works for that showrunner, for that production, I would just encourage them because I just feel like so often, and I think, I don’t know if it’s true now, but I’ve talked to showrunners in the past that have talked about the show and the training program and about the message they got was to keep the cast at arm’s length. Really? Yeah. And there certainly can be good reasons for doing that. I can understand why that sometimes makes the job easier, certainly, and sometimes maybe makes it possible. But I just think there’s more to gain by bringing them in to letting them see, really meet the whole team and get to know the whole team. And because there’s just, I mean, truly, you see what the set designers do, and you see what the customers do, and you see, we get to understand how lighting works. You know what I mean? It’s just how hard the ads work on putting together with the schedule and learn why the schedule gets put way put together the way it gets put together. And once you understand it, then maybe you’re a little less mad about having to be last in on Friday, two weeks in a row.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Chris Gorham:
You see, it’s like they’re not out to get you. They are trying to accommodate you, and you are not the only factor that is being accommodated.

Michael Jamin:
You’re talking about the writers now?

Chris Gorham:
No, I was talking about the cast look, in regards to schedule casting,

Michael Jamin:
Very, very frustrated

Chris Gorham:
About scheduling.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, I see. Yeah, that’s always right. I can see why that would be frustrating. So what happens? You get a call sheet and you’re told to come in whatever, 8:00 AM and they don’t get to shoot your part until 1:00 PM and you’re like, why did they call me in so early? And sometimes it just happens. It works out that way

Chris Gorham:
Sometimes. Yeah. They’re trying. They’re trying. And sometimes it just doesn’t work out. And with the scripts, with writers, it’s a similar kinds of thing. It’s like once you understand how many chefs are in the kitchen of getting these scripts, these stories broken, and then these scripts written how many notes the writer has gotten about their script from the studio and then from the network before it ever gets to the cast.

Michael Jamin:
You’re making me anxious just talking about it. No joke.

Chris Gorham:
Sorry. And then that’s why as a cast member, when you then go to the writer and say, Hey, can I ask you about this? Your writer looks like they’re dying a little inside.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. No, no, I can’t do that.

Chris Gorham:
And it’s like, so the best writers that I’ve worked with have always been very organized about how actors give notes. They’re like, if we’re doing table reads on a show, they’ll be like, look, we’re going to do the table read. Everybody’s got 24 hours to give whatever notes or feedback you’ve got about the script. And then after that, we’re considering it locked. Please respect that once you’re on. The idea being that you don’t want to spend a lot of time on the day when you’re there waiting to shoot, talking about suddenly having questions about the scene and asking it to be rewritten. That’s not the term.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, it’s not. And because we have to get next week’s script and next week’s script is a disaster. I’m telling you, it’s in terrible shape. That’s how it always is.
So you want to worry about this. What about the crashing plane out there? That’s going to be, I remember, I have to show, I can’t remember if I mentioned this last time we spoke, but one of my favorite experiences of working in Hollywood was when I was an out of practice, and I can’t remember what I was doing. I think the showrunner, Chris, I think he had me deliver pages up to the actress. It was show night right before the show, and I don’t know why it was made, but for some reason, I remember carrying a couple of scripts to the dressing room maybe an hour before the showtime, and you guys were all there, the whole cast, and you’re holding hands. And Henry’s like, come on, Michael, come on in, come on. And I’m like, what’s going on right here? And you’re all just holding hands. And he goes, and he invited me in. I’m like, but I’m a writer. What do you mean? No, grab some hands. So I remember taking who, who’s hands? I don’t know, but I’m in the middle. I’m with a circle. I’m holding hands. I’m like, what is going on here? And then you guys did, I don’t know what you would call it, but it was some kind of, it’s

Chris Gorham:
Like a little vocal warmup or something. No,

Michael Jamin:
It was almost like a blessing. It was like a blessing. It was almost like, what’s it, we are here to, I am curious if you’ve done this since then. It was like, we are here to support each other. We’re going to have a wonderful show. We’re all together. We’re a family. And it was almost spiritual. It was very, I guess you haven’t done that. You don’t remember this.

Chris Gorham:
I remember doing that. I don’t remember that specific moment. But that was all Henry.

Michael Jamin:
But it wasn’t every week that you guys did

Chris Gorham:
That. Every week we did that.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Okay.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. Every week it was our ritual, but Henry started as the ritual before we went down to start the show. We would have this time just with a cast or occasionally with a writer who’d come in.

Michael Jamin:
I thought it was a beautiful moment. I really did.

Chris Gorham:
It was really great on dramas. You don’t do that because you don’t have that moment where you’re all together about to go start the show. That’s already happened to me on sitcoms.

Michael Jamin:
So maybe it’s a theater thing then. Do you think

Chris Gorham:
For sure it’s a theater thing. Yes. Yes.

Michael Jamin:
Yes. So tell me, this happens on other employees always before every show or before every night. Opening night every night. Yeah.

Chris Gorham:
I mean, of course it depends on the show, right? It depends on who’s there and who’s, but yeah, thinking back, even when I was a kid in Fresno doing local theater, they would always feed circle up right before Showtime.

Michael Jamin:
Is that what they call, is there a name for this circle up? What is it?

Chris Gorham:
No, no. That’s just what I’m

Michael Jamin:
Using. So there’s no name

Chris Gorham:
For you get in the huddle. You get in the huddle.

Michael Jamin:
But I really thought, I still remember it. I was touched by it that this is something that you guys did to support each other so that you could hold space and feel safe in front of a crowd and know it was a very team thing. And I was like, wow. I felt almost like I was invading it. I felt like I don’t belong here because I’m not on stage with you guys. But that’s what I remember. It struck me. Something else that always struck me was how well guest stars were greeted by the regular cast. That’s a very, very position. You’ve been on both sides of that,

Chris Gorham:
Right? Yeah, for sure.

Michael Jamin:
For sure. What’s that on both sides for you?

Chris Gorham:
I’ve worked on shows where I have, where series regulators never spoke to me. We were in a scene together, but outside of the scene never spoke to me.

Michael Jamin:
So action. And this is the first time you’re talking to them.

Chris Gorham:
Correct.

Michael Jamin:
I suppose that could be good if your characters were just meeting for the first time, but is there

Chris Gorham:
Sure. I guess. I guess

Michael Jamin:
I guess.

Chris Gorham:
But we could, we’re professionals. We could pretend. But that was pretty early in my career. Now I don’t really have that experience anymore. But also, I took it with me and I made it a point, having had that happen once or twice early in my career, that once I was the series regular, I’ve always made it a point to never ever do that,

Michael Jamin:
To always welcome the guest star and just absolutely greet them. It’s a hard thing to stay. I mean, think about it’s the first day of school for them. Yeah. You’re walking into, you don’t know anybody. I,

Chris Gorham:
No, it’s difficult enough. Like you said, this is a difficult job. And why make it harder on somebody who is coming in on the bottom of the rung of power at this show? Why would you use the very real power that you wield

Michael Jamin:
Show it’s It is real.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. Why would you wield that to make someone who’s on your team, right? Uncomfortable. Why you?

Michael Jamin:
But we know these actors. I’m the star. I want you. I want to remind you. It’s like, dude, we know. We know.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. There are people like that. I feel like that’s the exception. It happens. Oh, really? But I feel like it’s the exception.

Michael Jamin:
Interesting.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
Hey, it’s Michael Jamin. If you like my content, and I know you do because you’re listening to me, I will email it to you for free. Just join my watch list. Every Friday I send out my top three videos of the week. These are for writers, actors, creative types, people like you can unsubscribe whenever you want. I’m not going to spam you, and the price is free. You got no excuse to join. Go to michaeljamin.com/watchlist. And now back to what the hell is Michael Jamin talking about?
One thing we also spoke about, which was very interesting to me, was I don’t know what they call now, I guess, what do they call? They call it sex coordinators. What is the role for those people

Chris Gorham:
Who, oh, intimacy

Michael Jamin:
Coordinators. Intimacy coordinators. But you mentioned that they have other functions. It is not just when two people are lying in bed, half naked. It’s also for,

Chris Gorham:
So the way that I describe it to people who’ve never heard of intimacy coordinators is everyone’s familiar with stunt coordinators. So stunt coordinators are brought onto a set to keep actors physically safe. Intimacy coordinators are brought onto a set to keep actors emotionally safe.

Michael Jamin:
And this is relatively new thing. Maybe what, five or 10 years or something? Maybe less,

Chris Gorham:
Right? Yes. New. And we are pushing to make them required. But one of the hurdles before we can make them a requirement like a stunt coordinator is required. One of the hurdles is actually getting enough intimacy coordinators qualified, trained and qualified to do this

Michael Jamin:
Job. Are most of them, are they therapists, counselors? What’s their training, do you think? No,

Chris Gorham:
I think a lot of them come from the acting court. Really? Really? Yeah. Yeah. Because

Michael Jamin:
You mentioned it’s not just that. It’s also like if you have two characters yelling at each other in a scene, no sex, they’re just yelling at each other that an intimacy record will talk to you afterwards, right?

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. So here’s a couple things that we did. I’d worked on a show where we had a scene, it was a sexual assault scene, but there were no clothes, there was no nudity and things stopped before things progressed to the point where we were physically exposed. But that kind of scene, you’re very emotionally exposed, right? And this was my first time interviewing with an intimacy coordinator. I didn’t really know what to expect. So there was a part of the conversation was, okay, for instance, it’s written in the script that the other character is going to reach down and grab your groin. And I talked to the in music coordinator saying, I talked to the director and the director wants to see that. He said, are you comfortable with that? Here’s what we have to protect you. We have a piece that’s going to go between your pants and your underwear to protect your groin.
And so when she grabs you, that’s all she’s grabbing. It was like, okay, great. That’s super helpful actually. Great. I’ve never had that before. And it seemed like that. And it’s nice. It makes me feel more comfortable. Certainly makes her feel more comfortable. Who wants to do that? Nobody. But then after the physical parts of discussion, then the conversation shifted. And she said, another thing that I’ve done with a lot of actors who’ve done scenes this, I would recommend that you put together a self-care routine for the end of the day. I was like, well, what do you mean? Like it could be anything. Whatever is going to be comforting to you. Some people, you might make a put things together. So you can draw a bubble bath when you get home. You might put together a playlist of music that makes you feel good.
It might be pictures of your kids, could be whatever it is that is going to give comfort if you need it at the end of the day, because you never know what scenes like that might trigger. And that’s the thing is you write scenes like this and it’s necessary for the story, and you works as appropriate for the characters, but you never know what the actors as people, what their life experience has been. And they may have in their real life, been through an experience like that. And so then reenacting it can be very triggering. And it’s the thing about acting when you’re doing these emotional scenes, be it anger or big crying emotion, your body doesn’t know you’re pretending.

Michael Jamin:
Exactly.

Chris Gorham:
Exactly. So you mentally, well, this is pretend none of this is real. We’re on a set crew numbers and friends, but your body doesn’t know the difference. Once you’re experiencing those emotions, you are experiencing those emotions and you never know what it’s going to bring up. So that kind of care, emotional care, I thought is really great.

Michael Jamin:
And it’s like, you’ll do this just so people are aware. If you have a scene where you’re screaming and yelling or sexually assaulting someone or whatever, and your adrenaline’s pumping and whatever, your, not hormones, but cortisol. Cortisol is racing, whatever. All this stuff is going through your head and your body doesn’t know, and you’re doing the scene a dozen times and it’s very hard. I feel it’s must be hard to wash that out of your system.

Chris Gorham:
Can be. It can be. I mean, that’s the thing. And it’s different for everybody. I ended up, I was okay at the end of the day. I was exhausted, but I felt okay. But I was glad that I’d put some thought into, if I’m not feeling okay, here’s what I’m going to do, it’s going to help me feel better. And just having thought about it, I think just helped.

Michael Jamin:
No, I don’t think I’ve ever worked with an intimacy coordinator because in comedy we don’t really do a lot of that. But is it always a sexually charged? Is that what the line is? It’s not just drama. There always has to be some kind of sexual element when they’re brought in. Is that what it

Chris Gorham:
Is? That’s certainly how it started. And I think now it’s one of the things, it’s still new. We’re figuring out when it, certainly on the sexual stuff, I’m trying to think. It was interesting. There was a resolution. I think there was a resolution that’s going to be coming up the convention. There’s lots of conversation about intimacy coordinators. But there was some conversation that had never crossed my mind. But once I was talking to someone about it, I thought, yeah, you know what that makes a lot of sense is bringing in intimacy coordinators when you’re physically with children. Physically with children. So for instance, you are playing a dad and you’re working with kids and you’re getting in bed and cuddling with the kids at bedtime, or you’re putting your daughter on your lap to have, because they had a rough day and you’re cuddling and you know what I mean? And you’re having physical contact with kids to have an intimacy coordinator there just to make, because again, you don’t know what people’s experiences been to protect the kids so that there’s a conversation and there’s somebody there watching. And I thought, you know what? Smart, that’s a great idea.

Michael Jamin:
That is a really smart idea. Because we don’t know what these kids have been through. We don’t know.

Chris Gorham:
And again, most actors, most people in the world are caring, kind, certainly empathetic. That’s their whole

Michael Jamin:
Job. That’s the job.

Chris Gorham:
But just like any other profession, some people need help. Some people don’t always have the best intentions, and some people don’t always behave well. And so it’s important. So yeah, I thought that was just such a good idea.

Michael Jamin:
I totally agree. We also spoke about how you handle it when you are working with an actor who maybe isn’t as professional or prepared as you are in the scene and what you do. I thought it was interesting what you had to say.

Chris Gorham:
Okay, so huge pet peeve. For me. It’s like, no, it really bugs me when you’re working with someone who hasn’t bothered to learn their dialogue. So that’s a huge No-no. But then sometimes you are working with an actor who just isn’t great, who just for whatever reason isn’t great. So my strategy for dealing with that is I just basically start acting to an X. I just don’t, whatever they’re giving me is just bad. What I know is that the editor is going to cut around the bad performance and they’re going to use me. So it’s even more important for me to stay completely engaged in the scene. And it’s an extra level of acting challenge because then you’re acting. It’s like, I don’t know. It’s working on one of the superhero movies or something where you just start treating them like a tennis ball and you do the scene regardless because you can’t let them affect your performance. Your performance

Michael Jamin:
Performance

Chris Gorham:
Has to be there.

Michael Jamin:
But let’s say you were working with a casting director. I’ve worked with many, obviously many, and some cast directors, they’ll read with you, and some of them are not great actors. No

Chris Gorham:
Read bad.

Michael Jamin:
And then you have, as an actor, you were trained to react and to what they give you, but how do you deal with it when they’re not giving you

Chris Gorham:
Enough? It is. It’s really hard. It’s one of the nice things about this whole self take resolution is that’s kind of taken out of it because you’ve got, hopefully you have someone working with you that’s going to give you something. And if not, you can do multiple takes and send the best one. It was always one of the most difficult things about auditioning in the room is when you are, and I’ve heard so many horror stories, I’ve experienced just a couple, but when you’re doing your audition and the person you’re reading with is garbage, and so much of it becomes, it’s not like how convincing their reading is. For me, it was always a rhythm thing. It was like they just aren’t listening. And so the rhythm gets completely screwed up. And it’s like,

Michael Jamin:
I always feel for actors when they have to do this, you have a crappy sketching director. It’s like, well, what so hard.

Chris Gorham:
Or you look up and the casting director’s like on the phone,

Michael Jamin:
That’s even worse. Eating

Chris Gorham:
Lunch and not this.

Michael Jamin:
If you prepared a scene and in this moment you’re going to be hot, you’re going to be yelling, and the casting director is not giving you enough for you to get angry at. So you’re saying you just go ahead and do it the way you prepared, even though if the scene, but then it looks like you’re almost looks like you’re crazy. You’re getting angry and the cast director’s at the lunch. It’s just something you got to deal with

Chris Gorham:
Because that’s the scene. And they’re probably, even when you were in the office, usually they were recording it. Right. So all they’re going to see is your side.

Michael Jamin:
Okay.

Chris Gorham:
So you have to do

Michael Jamin:
That’s good advice.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
I remember, this is years ago, we did a scene. We had this very famous actress. Actress. She was older, and we booked her and she came for the role and it was exciting to have her on set. She was very famous, but she should not be working. Her agent should not have booked her because I’ve

Chris Gorham:
Had an experience

Michael Jamin:
Like that too. Really? So maybe she had dementia. I felt terrible because she clearly had dementia or early signs of dementia, so she literally couldn’t remember one line. So you’d feed her the line, and even still, she couldn’t remember it half a second later. And I just felt she, I didn’t know what to do. I was like, she’s struggling here. She’s probably feels very embarrassed, very lost. Very, why did her agent send her out for this book? Maybe because she needed the insurance. I don’t know. But it was a horrible situation. I felt bad all around.

Chris Gorham:
I’ve worked with an actress who a very similar situation, and they went to cue cards and they just did it line by line.

Michael Jamin:
Even with QI wanted to bring in cue cards. The director said, I don’t want to bring q. I was like, what are you doing, dude? This is awful. I lost that fight. I thought we needed cue cards. They just

Chris Gorham:
Shot her side line by line, and then I just did my side to an X.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. Yeah. It’s so interesting. That’s one of the realities of being on a TV show.

Chris Gorham:
Totally. And it’s one of the, but also why it’s so important to not to get, just to do, at the end of the day, be responsible for your performance and make sure that you’re giving the best performance that you can give and you can’t control the other stuff that’s happening. And then as an actor, then trust your director and your camera operators and your review that they’re going to take care of you as best that they can and your editor. But it doesn’t behoove anyone to make you look like an idiot unless you’re supposed to look like an idiot. Right,

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Chris Gorham:
Everyone wants to make the show. Great.

Michael Jamin:
Are your kids getting into acting or have they expressed any No. You said with relief. No, not in the arts at all.

Chris Gorham:
No, no, no, not at all.

Michael Jamin:
Your wife was an actor. I mean, I’m, yeah, I’m surprised that there’s not that pull.

Chris Gorham:
Well, my oldest son is autistic. He finished high school and now he’s got a part-time job like pharmacy down the street. He’s doing well, and his younger brother is studying business, wants to go into real estate. Oh, good. It’s like, okay.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, thank God.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. And then our youngest loves to sing, has a beautiful singing voice. But yeah, no, he isn’t really interested

Michael Jamin:
Going

Chris Gorham:
Into the business, which is fine. We’ve never put any pressure on

Michael Jamin:
Them. Well, sure.

Chris Gorham:
And had they had a passion for it, we would be supportive, but it’s just not, their hearts

Michael Jamin:
Taken them. It’s funny. I’m sure they’ve come to set with you seen you do it. Yeah.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. They think it’s boring. They’re like, this is so boring.

Michael Jamin:
It is boring. There’s a lot of boring on a set. I don’t know if,

Chris Gorham:
Yeah, it’s super boring. They’ve never watching things with me in it because it’s weird to see your dad not being your dad. Also, another thing, thinking about it, having just talked about Stacy Linker a little bit ago, I think part of the reason they don’t like going to set is because it set. I am the star and not them. So

Michael Jamin:
Oh, interesting.

Chris Gorham:
That doesn’t feel great either. It’s way better at home.

Michael Jamin:
What is it like for you though, when you’re out in public? And fame to me is, so how do you experience fame when someone comes up to you and they think they know you and they want a piece of you? What does that do to you?

Chris Gorham:
Well, I’ve been really lucky, I feel like, because kind of been able to walk the line where I’ve experienced being famous enough to have the paparazzi jump out and want to take my picture and talk to me.

Michael Jamin:
That’s a lot. That’s a level of fame I don’t think anybody would want to have,

Chris Gorham:
But never to the point where it really got in the way. It was just a few. There were some moments in my career where I was famous enough that the paparazzi knew who I was and would take my picture, but never famous enough that it really

Michael Jamin:
Bothered

Chris Gorham:
You, caused problems. Never famous enough where I needed security. Never famous enough where it got really inconvenient.

Michael Jamin:
But let’s just say you’re at a restaurant and someone wants to come up, they want to talk to you, they autographed, they want to meet you.

Chris Gorham:
Most of the time people get it. I’m usually out with my kids and my wife, so they understand if they’re coming up and I’m with my wife and kids, that it’s a little awkward for them to ask me to stop dinner with my family to talk pictures or take. So that doesn’t really happen

Michael Jamin:
Now. Oh, that’s good. I mean, Brad, I could see your family being like, oh God, we’re trying to have a night. We’re trying to be together.

Chris Gorham:
There’s been moments like that, especially for the kids. Anelle it, it’s always been fun. Early in my career, it was weird because we were on a show and we couldn’t go to malls because kids would chase us around malls in the very beginning. But then as you get older, that happens less and less. And then it’s just been, sometimes it’s surprising. My kids forget for a while. We’ll go a while without getting recognized at all. And then weirdly, in Chicago, weirdly, I think the last show that I was on must have lots of people watched it in Chicago. And so suddenly, anytime I’m in Chicago, I’m recognized all the time. And so It’s like my kids remember. Oh, right. Dad’s on tv.

Michael Jamin:
That’s so

Chris Gorham:
Funny. Funny. When Ethan was starting high school was when a very popular show with the high school kids had just premiered. And that was actually really difficult for him. We’ve talked about it since. He didn’t really reveal how hard it was for him, but last year we were talking about it and he was kind of opening up and said, yeah, no, it sucked. It wasn’t great.

Michael Jamin:
Really?

Chris Gorham:
You were doing that show while I was starting high school and so everyone knew who I was and everyone

Michael Jamin:
Knew who all his friends and all the kids. Yeah. It’s hard for a kid and it

Chris Gorham:
Was embarrassing.

Michael Jamin:
Yes, it was. They were embarrassed that you were their dad.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. Really? It was super embarrassing. Yeah. Well, because of what that show, because of my character on the show for high school kids, just, it was a lot. I was physically quite exposed on that show and so yeah, it was a lot. It a lot.

Michael Jamin:
Oh wow. We did a show with these two guys link and these were big YouTubers and they were huge. And I hadn’t heard of them. I didn’t know them. And then remember we’d go for the meeting and one of them said to me, you wouldn’t believe this, but I can’t go to Disneyland without being swarmed. That was his crowd. He’s like, I know you’ve never seen me before, but I can’t go there without being swarmed.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
It’s so funny. Yeah,

Chris Gorham:
It’s wild. Yeah. That was,

Michael Jamin:
It’s interesting that this, go ahead, please.

Chris Gorham:
No, no, no, no. It was just a dumb Disneyland story. Go ahead.

Michael Jamin:
No.

Chris Gorham:
Well, the dumb Disneyland story was, there was a period in my career where working on a certain show where we could not only go to Disneyland for free, but also were given the guide and the behind we were taking care of at Disneyland, like a celebrity, which was funny because it was so, we did it a couple times, but I think even just the second time we went to Disney Disneyland, that way, it’s too much. Honestly. It sounds great, and it’s great the first time to be able to skip all the lines, you know what I mean? But after that, it’s like, oh, there’s actually way less to do at Disneyland than you think when you don’t have to wait in line for anything.

Michael Jamin:
That’s so funny. You kind

Chris Gorham:
Of finish it all in four hours and then you’re like, oh,

Michael Jamin:
Now what? Now what?

Chris Gorham:
Again?

Michael Jamin:
That’s so funny. Yeah.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
I’m always curious, I am always curious about how people experience I’m around you guys and how you guys experience fame and what is it like that parasocial relationship where people think they know you and they don’t. They just know this part of you.

Chris Gorham:
It’s different for everybody.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah. I always feel like it must be like, am I giving you what? When someone comes up to you, is there that thought in your head? Where am I giving you what you wanted? You just met me. Am I giving you what you wanted? Because I don’t know what you wanted and am I who you wanted me to be for five minutes? Oh, that’s funny.

Chris Gorham:
I don’t think about it that way. I’ve just tried to be kind to people just, I just try to be kind. Just be kind. That’s all. That’s really all I’m thinking about is just because, listen, it could be worse. It’s not terrible for people to be happy to see you generally.

Michael Jamin:
Right.

Chris Gorham:
That’s not terrible. That’s kind of nice. Can it be inconvenient? Sorry.

Michael Jamin:
Well, I saw a clip of Eve who played Jan Brady, right. And she was on the talk show. This clip was probably 30 years old or whatever, and someone in the audience said, can you just do it? Can you just say it? Can you say it right? And she’s like, we knew what you wanted. We knew everyone knew. She wanted her to say, Marsha, Marsha, Marsha. And she was like, I’m not going to say it. I won’t say it, and why not? And everyone was so disappointed, and I felt for her. I was like, because she doesn’t want to be your performing monkey now. And that was when she was 10.

Chris Gorham:
Well, that’s the thing too. It’s like is a one you can be kind and say no.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah,

Chris Gorham:
Right. Just being kind doesn’t mean you’re going to say yes to every request,

Michael Jamin:
But that sounds like something you’ve maybe had a long conversation with a therapist to come to that conversation. Really? Yeah. That’s something I would struggle with. Someone would say, you know, could be kind still say, no, am I allowed to? But you’re saying you came to this realization on your own.

Chris Gorham:
I dunno. I don’t know. Listen, I do see a therapist, and so maybe I don’t remember having a breakthrough about that specifically, but certainly walking things through with a therapist can only help. Also, I think being a dad helps with that because in parenting, so much of the job is saying no. And that can be really hard sometimes, certainly for some people, but it’s an important part of the job.

Michael Jamin:
Talk about how important do you think it is, and for you to either, okay. As a writer, I think it’s very important to spend at least some amount of time in therapy because if you don’t know yourself, how could you possibly know another character? And I wonder if you feel the same way. Same thing about acting.

Chris Gorham:
Oh, I’ve never thought about it that way.

Michael Jamin:
Really?

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. Yeah. No, I never thought about that way. But it certainly can be helpful. I mean, for the same reason. It just, it’s spending that time thinking about, and sometimes it’s taking that hour just thinking about the whys of things. You spend so much of your days reacting to everything and taking the time to go, okay, why did this lead to this? Why did I do that when this happened to me? And as a person, it’s going to help you stay more regulated and be just healthier in life. But also, yeah, for sure. There’s going to be moments when you’re going to be able to understand a character brother, because you’ve maybe put some thought into why people do

Michael Jamin:
These things, why people do. Yeah.

Chris Gorham:
I been, one of the things I’ve started doing during the strike is working as a substitute teacher.

Michael Jamin:
Really? For one of the public schools nearby.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. Yeah. For elementary

Michael Jamin:
School, middle school. How hard is that? Wait for elementary school.

Chris Gorham:
Elementary school and middle school.

Michael Jamin:
And middle school. You won’t have the balls to do high school, do you?

Chris Gorham:
School? Well, my kids at the high school, I’ve been banned from the high school. And also I think I’m too recognizable to be at the high school. It would be distracting. Whereas the middle school and the elementary school kids, they don’t dunno anything.

Michael Jamin:
So what’s that?

Chris Gorham:
What is that like? Well, it’s been great actually. It’s been great. And I think one of the things that you really see, or I really see is just, there’s no such thing as a bad kid. There’s just no such thing.

Michael Jamin:
So you see kids that are struggling in pain or whatever. Yeah.

Chris Gorham:
Listen, there’s kids that act up. There’s kids, but what is that? Right? They’re begging for attention. Yeah.

Michael Jamin:
So what do you do?

Chris Gorham:
So it depends on the kid, but it’s a great lesson that I think in talking about what we do and acting and writing, it’s a great lesson to getting at why are characters behaving the way that they’re behaving. In my career, I’ve played good guys and bad guys and everybody in between. And I’m often asked, how do you play this horrible human being? It’s like, well, part of the job is figuring out why he’s doing what he’s doing, because it makes sense to him, either mentally or emotionally. He’s doing what feels right for him in that moment. And objectively, we’re looking at,

Michael Jamin:
Do you ask for help with that, with the director or the actor? If you’re struggling with that, why am I such a dick in this scene?

Chris Gorham:
Sometimes? Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes it’s an important conversation if it doesn’t make sense, because also sometimes, frankly, this script hasn’t got you there, or I can’t see it. It’s like, this doesn’t feel justified. Can you help me connect the dots? So

Michael Jamin:
Funny, just as I was saying that we ran this show with Mark Marin, the comedian, and the show was based on his life. And so we did this one, we wrote this one scene where he’s giving a speech, he’s getting out of rehab, and he’s giving his goodbye speech or whatever. And the speech that we wrote for him was so ungracious, he was being a real jerk. It was like, goodbye, you’re all good luck. See you here in three weeks because everyone, you’re all going to relapse. He was such a jerk. And right before we’re shooting it, mark comes up to me, he goes, I don’t understand why I’m such a dick in this scene. And I’m like, uhoh, how do I break this to you based on your life, mark? And I go,

Chris Gorham:
It’s

Michael Jamin:
Because Mark, sometimes you can be a dick. And I’m like, oh, here we go. He’s going to punch me in the face. He’s going to punch me. And he just looks at me. He goes, okay, got it. That’s all he needed.

Chris Gorham:
I see it now.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. It was. Yeah. It’s been really, yeah. One of the things that coming up in it school, you go through, you learn all these different techniques, the miser techniques, method acting is STR U Hagan and all this stuff. And so much of it, it’s like watch people, watch people listen to people, listen to how different people talk, listen to how people talk about the same thing, or watch how people move. And so it’s been one of the just kind of unexpected blessings about being around these kids just being exposed to an entirely different group of little humans who are so, they have fewer masks on than adults. So it just, it’s really easy, especially as a dad coming in and having been around, I feel like that’s an advantage for me. But just to see, it’s like, oh, I see what’s happening here. Oh, I see what’s going on there. Oh, that’s so cool.

Michael Jamin:
It’s so fun. I can see the same thing as a writer. If I’m at a coffee shop, when you’re watching two people, often people are not, if they’re sitting at the same table, they’re not having a conversation. They’re just taking turns talking. Which is different. Which is different, right? Yes,

Chris Gorham:
Yes. So different. So different. It’s been, yeah, it’s like when you see people just, they’re not listening. They’re just waiting for their

Michael Jamin:
Turn. Yeah, they’re waiting for their turn. Right. That’s just so fun about the job. Wow. Yeah. Chris, we had a long talk and don’t think, I think maybe we bumped on, we touched on only a couple things. We talked from last time, and yet this is all new terrain. And you, I’m so

Chris Gorham:
Glad.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah.

Chris Gorham:
I mean, well, you’re easy to talk to my friend.

Michael Jamin:
Well, you’re a fantastic guest. I mean, I don’t know. I just feel like I learned, I learned so much. I rebranded the podcast basically was because I wanted to talk to more people. It was originally, it was about screenwriting, but I really wanted to talk to artists, basically people whose work I admire, and you for sure are one of them. And just about how they, I don’t know. What’s it like to be an artist and how to approach your work. I know you take it so seriously and I have so much admiration for that

Chris Gorham:
Man. It’s the greatest job in the world, and it’s a job that it matters.

Michael Jamin:
Yeah, it matters. I’ve said that and people, I made a post about that. And I don’t know people, I don’t know if it was well received, because it doesn’t matter. But it does matter.

Chris Gorham:
No, it really, storytelling is one of just the founding pillars of our society and of community. Storytelling is so important. It is how we see ourselves. It’s how we learn how to behave and how we learn about other people, because it’s how we get outside of our own lived experience and can experience the lived experience of others. It’s vital.

Michael Jamin:
And stories connect us. And now more than ever in this country, we need something that connects us. We’re so divided. I dunno.

Chris Gorham:
It’s one of those things that helps us feel less alone,

Michael Jamin:
Feels less, exactly. Feel.

Chris Gorham:
And the world can be a very lonely place. So I’m very, I’ve been very,

Michael Jamin:
I wonder when people’s, but I wonder when people, I say this and they don’t recognize the value of the arts. When I say it helps us feel less alone and they can’t get there. They can’t. I wonder, is it because they’re just alone? I wonder if they’re so alone, they can’t even get there.

Chris Gorham:
Sometimes. Sometimes. But problems, community is just the most important thing. Strong communities lead to happier people, lead to less crime, need to just happier lives like community is so important. And it’s one of the very important ways that we can help build communities by sharing our stories with each other. Or sometimes just fucking laughing about something, like needing to sit down and laugh about something or get excited or get swept away to another world. Or it can be anything, but I mean, it’s as vital. It’s as old as the species. Right?

Michael Jamin:
And when people come home

Chris Gorham:
Changed,

Michael Jamin:
Often people come home for a long day at work, hard day at work, what do they do? They’ll turn on the TV even if they’re not going to watch it just to feel less alone. Yeah.

Chris Gorham:
Yeah. No, I’m very proud of so much of the work that I’ve been able to do and so grateful to be allowed to do it. I really look forward to getting back to work as soon as our friends at the BTP can bring themselves to give us the deal that we need to make to get back.

Michael Jamin:
By the time this airs, I hope I have a little bit of a lag. I hope it’s done. But some people are thinking, well, maybe it’ll get done this weekend. There’s some optimism. Yeah. Yeah.

Chris Gorham:
I hope so. I hope so.

Michael Jamin:
Well, if not,

Chris Gorham:
We’ll see you on the picket lines, my friend.

Michael Jamin:
Oh, for sure. And you were there for sure, the writers right from the beginning. But I want to thank you again for sharing your time so generously, because this was a great talk. I think this is going to help a lot of people help me. So anytime, man, thank you again, Chris Gorm, round of applause. Thank you so much, man.
So now we all know what the hell Michael Jamin talking about. If you’re interested in learning more about writing, make sure you register for my free monthly webinars @michaeljamin.com/webinar. And if you found this podcast helpful or entertaining, please share it with a friend and consider leaving us a five star review on iTunes that really, really helps. For more of this, whatever the hell this is, follow Michael Jamin on social media @MichaelJaminwriter. And you can follow Phil Hudson on social media @PhilaHudson. This podcast was produced by Phil Hudson. It was edited by Dallas Crane and music was composed by Anthony Rizzo. And remember, you can have excuses or you can have a creative life, but you can’t have both. See you next week.

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Michael Jamin, Showrunner, TV Writer, Author

Michael Jamin

For the past 26 years, Michael Jamin has been a professional television writer/showrunner. His credits include King of the Hill, Beavis & Butthead, Wilfred, Maron, Just Shoot Me, Rules of Engagement, Brickleberry, Tacoma FD and many more.

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