Chad Lindberg is instantly recognizable from the plethora of diverse roles he has played in the past decade. Whether it is mixing it up in the action genre as Jesse in ‘The Fast and The Furious’, as the mulleted paranormal tracker Ash on “Supernatural” or tackling challenging and controversial material such as 2010’s ‘I Spit On Your Grave’ remake, Lindberg has established himself as one the most exciting young actors on the scene. Interestingly enough, his early years in Hollywood were captured on film in documentary form by filmmaker Tony Zierra.
Filmed over ten years, “My Big Break” (read the review here) is a controversial documentary which follows five roommates trying to make it in Hollywood who face the unexpected consequences of fame. Three of the actors in the documentary, Brad Rowe (Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss, Shelter), Chad Lindberg (October Sky, The Fast And The Furious) and Wes Bentley (American Beauty, The Hunger Games) defy astronomical odds and quickly hit it big. Meanwhile, the fourth actor, Greg Fawcett, is nearly driven insane watching the others get rich, famous and showered with attention. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Chad Lindberg to discuss his roots in the entertainment industry, how he got involved with “My Big Break”, his upcoming projects and much more!
We want to give everyone a little background on you. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Washington and I grew up in Mount Vernon, which is about an hour north of Seattle. I was there pretty much my whole life and I love it there!
Tackling a career in the entertainment industry is often not for the faint of heart. What drove you to pursue a career in that field?
It was something I started doing in high school. It was there where I started acting in plays and started to realize I might be good at this! [laughs] At the same time, Jim Caviezel who was in “The Passion of the Christ” and is also from my hometown, he had just starred in “Wyatt Earp” and it was a really big deal in our town. I started to think, “Oh man! I can do that too!” I looked in the classifieds of my hometown paper and I saw a classified for an agency in Seattle. I had my mom take me down there to audition and they took me right away. The next day, they sent me out for a two-liner in a Warner Brothers movie called “Born To Be Wild.” That was when I booked my first audition. From there, over the next three years, I did auditions in Seattle. I got a movie when I was 19 called “Black Circle Boys.” It was an independent film that had come from Los Angeles to Seattle. They actually booked me as one of the leads! They took a chance on a no-name, small town boy. I got that part and it opened some doors. Then I moved out to Los Angeles, where I have been for the last 16 years. I am really fortunate and really lucky.
Who would you cite as your biggest professional influences?
I have loved Leonardo DiCaprio since I saw him in “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.” He has always been really inspiring to me and is a fantastic actor. Ed Norton, seeing him in “Primal Fear,” I knew he was one of the best. I would say those two guys are huge inspirations to me.
What is your typical process, and I am sure it can vary project to project, for bringing a character from the script to the screen?
It is one of those things I am not sure how to put into words. Everyone has their own process on how to bring a character to life. I just go off my instincts. I tend to do what I have learned and what I have picked up on sets over the years and just kinda snap into it. It is just one of those progressive things. When you are on set and around the other actors, that is when you begin to know your character.
You were part of a really interesting documentary, “My Big Break.” What can you tell us about that project and how you got involved originally?
I used to live in a house with four or five other actors and a guy named Tony. Tony [Zierra] was a director. At the time, he was trying to figure things out. He wanted to do a movie but he didn’t have a script and was on the lookout for one. Then he realized that he had something very unique happening right in front of him. Wes Bentley, Brad Rowe and myself were all actors who seemed to be hitting it big relatively fast, one right after another. Then there was Greg [Fawcett], who is another actor who was living in the house and things weren’t going so great for him. Tony had this really cool dynamic happening right in front of him. He was able to catch us before fame and after fame and you are able to see what that does to your relationships. It was one of those things that we thought could be good someday and could possibly help people or be used as a learning tool.
Did you have any reservations about doing something like that initially? I imagine I would have a few if someone was going to film aspects of my life!
Ya know, looking back on it, we had absolutely no reservations on doing the project. Tony is one of my closest friends and we all trusted him. He has so many hours of stuff, I can’t even tell you! Nowadays, we would probably look at it a little bit differently and would maybe be a little more protective. With “My Big Break,” we literally let it all hang out there! [laughs] I kinda knew back then that it would be a good teaching tool. Before I came to LA, I would have loved to have seen a movie about a film like this. It wouldn’t have changed the way I was going to attack it. As an actor, I would have loved to have seen something like this because you could relate to it or realized that you aren’t crazy and it was going to be OK! [laughs]
Obviously, you mentioned the film can be a learning experience for others but what is the biggest thing you took away from the project?
It is hard to say because it happened over time. I would have to say that it was one of the greatest times in my life and I came away with friends I am so connected to and a family I will have for life. Everyone involved in the project was very influential and it was a very important time. It was truly a gift.
A quick look around the web and it seems you are a busy man. What projects do you have in the can we should be on the lookout for?
I just did a guest starring spot on “Weeds.” I am really excited about that! I will be on the Season 8 opener! I am also in a zombie movie for the Syfy Channel — lots of running around and killing zombies! I am really pumped about that project!
Your career has been and continues to be very diverse. Is there a particular type of film or genre you are anxious to tackle in the future?
Gosh, I have done so much and I am fortunate to be able to say that! Ya know, I am really open to anything. Going in different directions is something I really enjoy. I like to move around!
What has been your favorite role to date? Is there something you feel you really shined in?
Yeah, I think my favorite thing I have done is “I Spit On Your Grave.”
We are big fans of the horror genre and that film was a great remake. We interviewed the director and Sarah Butler around its release and they told us how challenging those scenes were.
It was intense! I had never had an experience for shot content like that before. Really, we were viscerally feeling and reacting to everything that was going on around us. Creatively, it was the most exhilarating time I have had while filming. I am really proud of that movie and how it turned out. I was also fortunate to make a lot of good friends from it too!
I know you had the opportunity to take part in a bunch of fan conventions recently. What has that experience been like for you?
I think it is really important and I love it dearly! I have been doing “Supernatural” conventions for about four years now. There is such an amazing fanbase for that show! I have also done a few horror conventions as a result of “I Spit On Your Grave.” I love being able to go out and meet new fans. I think it is really, really important and it is a gift! I have been able to travel to places like London, Brazil, Rome and Paris! Sometimes, I think, “Wow! This is crazy!” [laughs] It has been a blessing to get to travel the world, meet new fans and hear their stories!
The conventions always have some unique characters. Have you had the opportunity to meet anyone you enjoyed watching on television or in film?
Yeah! I went to a Comic Con in Chicago. There I met Aaron Goodwin of “Ghost Adventures.” I am a huge fan of that show and I was actually able to go on the show. That is how that started! It was awesome! It is also pretty cool to be able to go to these shows and meet the actors you grew up watching. I met Christopher Lloyd from “Back To The Future” and I just met Ernie Hudson from “Ghostbusters!” In addition to meeting all of the great fans, you get to meet these actors you grew up watching and that is really cool!
Looking back on your career so far, how do you feel you evolved as an actor?
That’s a good question. I feel that, over time, you settle into yourself and you become more comfortable. I am very thankful that it happened because I look back now and think, “Oh man, what if it didn’t?!” I really think being at ease with yourself definitely helps you grow as an actor.
We are used to seeing you in front of the camera but do you have any interest at maybe one day jumping behind the camera to explore the world of direction?
Absolutely! I film a lot of “Funny or Die” videos and I feel that directing is something I definitely want to do at some point. I just have to get to the point where I can take the time to do that and develop something appropriately. But yeah, I absolutely want to develop behind the camera as well as in front of it.
What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to aspiring actors who are looking to make a career of it as you have?
I would say you have to be 110% about it! It has to be in you and you have to be very passionate about it. Perseverance is the key! You have to stick it out. There are going to be times when you will think, “I am over it! I want to go home!” [laughs] Trust me, I have had plenty of those moments! You have to stick it out and you have to give it 110% because this town is hard. I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody unless it is who you are!
Thanks for your time today, Chad! We look forward to seeing more of you in the future! Best of luck to you!
Thanks so much! Talk to you soon!