Chris Luca was born in Bucharest, Romania and he has always been a bit of a clown, making his friends laugh and ending up in ridiculous situations. Chris was actually in his third year of a business degree, early 20s, when he finally sat down and asked himself what he wanted to do with his life. One of the answers was to try and make a living from something he enjoyed but also came easy to him, make-believe.
— Chris Luca (@Chris_Luca) July 4, 2017
indieactivity: How did you become an actor?
Chris: I remember watching an episode of the American show The O.C. and thinking to myself “I can do that”. So, I started a 2-year screen acting degree while still doing my business degree. During that time I realized how much I loved to act. Going to acting classes after the business ones was like getting therapy for stress.
indieactivity: What acting technique do you use?
Chris: Even though my main interest was screen acting when I started my degree, I soon found out that everything starts with theatre. So, I got a good foundation in Stanislavski’s system and went on to study the Chubbuck method as well. I don’t follow one or the other, but I employ parts of both in my own process.
indieactivity: What wrong impressions do actors hold about acting?
Chris: Off the top of my head, I’d say the belief that getting in front of the right people is all that matters. Of course, it‘s nice being seen by Nina Gold and it means you’re on the right track. But, if you’re not prepared and experienced enough to make it through the audition with flying colours, next time they see your headshot they’ll only remember you as “that actor who couldn’t take direction” and move on. It’s more about the industry than acting per se, but I think it’s important.
indieactivity: Do you take courses to improve your craft?
Chris: As most actors know acting jobs are few and far between, so I try to act as much as I can in my free time. That means improvisation classes, practicing with the local theatre group or just meeting up with other actors and work on scenes together.
indieactivity: What acting books do you read?
Chris: Read the classics like Stanislavski’s “An Actor Prepares” and “Creating a Role”. Chubbuck’s “The Power of The Actor” is a good book to dust off every now and then. Most recently I’ve read Caine’s “Acting in Film”, which I enjoyed a lot.
indieactivity: How do you keep fit as an actor?
Chris: I like doing improv with an accent on physical comedy whenever I get the chance. Yeah, I’m that guy in your improv group who crashes all over the place. Also, I like to spend time in nature, trekking, climbing and swimming.
indieactivity: How do you prepare for a role after you get it?
Chris: Read the script multiple times so I get a thorough understanding of what’s going on. Analyze the script and take notes. Break down the script, analyze individual scenes and take notes. Analyze my character, take notes and start making decisions. By now I not only know most of my lines but also most of all the other characters’ lines as well as everything else that’s going on around us. Now, I learn the lines so I know them by heart and start working on my character, delivery and so on. Of course, all this work goes into a leading role or a major supporting role. For a three-line role there’s less work.
indieactivity: How do you create a character from a script into a person?
Chris: Get all the information from the script regarding my character and the world they live in. I analyze it then start trying out different characteristics, walking with a limp, speaking with a lisp and so on. Find out what works best, what to accentuate and what to discard. Once I think it’s complete, I introduce it to some family members/friends or cast members/director, during rehearsals, and polish it depending on their reactions.
indieactivity: How do you stay fresh on a production set?
Chris: It depends, if it’s an easy role or a difficult one, a normal scene or a highly emotional one. Most of the time I find it quite easy to get in and out of character when needed, but there are times when I find it hard to quickly get into character so I try to stay in the moment between takes. That can be achieved by listening to certain songs or finding a quiet spot and focusing on what you’re supposed to be feeling in the scene.
indieactivity: Describe a memorable character you played?
Chris: A few years back I played a tough Russian student, Uri, in an online drama called No I.D. which received great reactions from viewers. I teamed up again with the director for a short film called Foreigner, focusing on this character and exploring it a bit more. And now we’re planning to bring Uri back in a feature length film. What I loved about this character is how well written it was. Of course, originally he was Polish but while I was working on it I kept finding myself drawn to the idea of playing him with a Russian accent. And as soon as I started saying the lines with the Russian accent it came to life.
indieactivity: Explain one creative choice you took on a production set?
Chris: In Avengers: Age of Ultron I played a mercenary-type information officer and was supposed to inform Strucker that the Avengers we’re attacking us, while holding a rifle with one hand and a phone with the other. After doing one take that way I found it unrealistic. I didn’t need to have the rifle in my hand if I were making phone calls and watching monitors, I could have it on a table next to me or something like that. So, while setting up the next take I brought it up with the director, Joss Whedon, and he agreed to have it on the table. The rest, as they say, is history.
indieactivity: How did you get cast in Avengers: Age of Ultron?
Chris: Previously I found out that parts of Age of Ultron would be shot in the UK, so I contacted my agent in the hope he might be able to get an audition for me. After a month or so my agent sent me to an audition for a random film run by a well-known casting director. In the room I was presented with a page of dialogue I had to memorize on the spot. Shot first take, got some direction from the CD, shot the second take with the changes he wanted and that was it. Then every week or so for about a month my agent would call to let me know I was still on the ever shrinking shortlist, till one day when I was the only one left. That’s when I found out that that random film was actually Avengers: Age of Ultron.
indieactivity: What do you want most from a director?
Chris: I like directors who have some kind of acting background, so they have an idea about the process actors go through. With that understanding it’s easier for a director to explain what he wants from an actor and actually get it.
indieactivity: What actors do you long to work with?
Chris: Clint Eastwood.
Chris: He’s an acting legend and his move to directing was very impressive. He thought he could do it better than the people directing him and he proved he was right. Gran Torino is one of my favourite films showcasing him
indieactivity: What advice would you give to actors?
Chris: Take regular breaks from the industry. The life of an actor is a complex one and while you’re chasing roles you’re always connected to everything. Some time away will make you appreciate other aspects of life and give you the opportunity to see things more clearly once you get back.
indieactivity: Briefly write about your career?
Chris: Looking back, I was pretty lucky at the beginning of my acting career. Straight out of drama school, I had a few TV roles drop into my lap seemingly out of nowhere. I still remember being given a much bigger role while on set for a two-line part in a very popular Romanian sitcom (Trasniti din Nato). Because some actor didn’t show up, I now had like one hour to memorize pages and pages of dialogue, some of it in French, and I didn’t even speak French! Talk about trial by fire. That’s why training is so important, you never know when opportunity knocks. Managed not to let everyone down and that led to other roles. Soon people were recognizing me on the street.
Moving to the UK was about reaching a wider audience by acting in English and also getting access to a bigger industry. I jumped in with both feet, I think I did like 10 projects in my first year in the UK. Since then I’ve slowed down quite a bit, becoming more selective with the roles I’m willing to play and focusing more on creating content for myself. I soon hope to be able to take a page from Clint Eastwood’s book, direct and star in my own film.