Chris Bauer Wire Image
Chris Bauer is known to us True Blood fans as Andy Bellefleur, but the character actor has also done memorable performances other shows like The Wire.
Chris Bauer, the 44-year old character actor is like many of the characters he has played: hard-working and straightforward. Raised in California, Bauer graduated from the Yale School of Drama and then played small roles in high-quality films like Face-Off and later Broken Flowers. But television is where Bauer’s thrived—particularly the kind of expertly made and passionately followed TV of today. He may have perfectly embodied the deeply flawed union boss Frank Sobotka on The Wire but Bauer, in person, is soft-spoken, thoughtful and intelligent. And while he doesn’t identify as an addict, he says that he hasn’t had a drink in four years and speaks knowledgeably on the topic; like us, he seems to see addiction everywhere he goes.
In an interview with thefix.com, Chris talks about the damaged characters he’s played, the tragedy of drug war, and the way True Blood is all about addiction.
You have played some very damaged, dark characters on HBO. Are there any similarities between Frank and Andy?
They’re both very obviously flawed human beings and are dominated by their flaws. But both of them are inspired to be better people. I don’t know if that’s something I just intuitively read into everyone I play because that’s kind of my own read on myself or that’s actually there in the writer’s creation but both characters are very similar that way. They are different in that Frank was really confident in his ability to manipulate and affect people and Andy is petrified of other people: he uses his badge and his gun and his attitude to fend off anyone who may make him feel better. He’s a guy who is maniacally compelled to avoid the solution at all costs.
He’s a drunk on the show, isn’t he? It’s not unusual for addicts to engage in self-sabotage at all costs.
That’s been my experience, certainly. I’ve witnessed it, I’ve heard it described. I think that it’s kind of cool that the writers at some level are able to intuit that kind of detail because I’m not the kind of actor that takes a ton of time taking the writers out one by one, having an intimate lunch and trying to explain my perception of the character and trying to solicit theirs. The whole thing is an act of faith. The paradox is that on one hand it’s almost a comic book, where everything that Andy Bellefleur does is blown up and exaggerated, but on the other hand it’s a pretty detailed, accurate, informed portrait of an addict.
Watching the show, I always think that it seems that whomever conjured up the character of character Andy must have some personal understanding of addiction and rather than just clichéd kind of presentations of it. It’s all incredibly real.
Well, if they do, they’re keeping it a secret. If I have to go on objective evidence, I just have to chalk it up to their talent. But there’s also a place where my performance and my instincts encounter what they’ve written and the two of them together collide and that’s what makes the guy come to life so it’s certainly a mix of all of our insights that creates that detail.
When you played Frank, did you think he was aware he was part of the drug trade?
Frank was just maniacally focused on getting what he wanted, which evolved into a moral dubious scheme to benefit his union. He was willing to walk a little crooked if it would keep the union membership alive and thriving. I don’t think Frank ever focused consciously or primarily on the negative downsides to that—he didn’t dwell on the fact that what he was doing was illegal. He was an officer in a waterfront union. There are no straight lines by the time you get to that point. It was almost a fool’s game spending any time thinking about what was the morally correct path. It was about results. Everything he did was about results and I thought that was pretty human. He was desperate enough to resurrect this dying little working class family.
To read the rest of this interview go here: thefix.com