10 THINGS – Philipp Christopher
When did you decide that acting was the path you wanted for your career and how did you get your start in the business?
Acting has been a passion of mine since high school but I was a bit closeted about it, as it was a complete foreign territory to anyone in my family and my surrounding. I went to study film in New York with a minor in acting and that’s where I really fell in love with the craft. All my teachers were members of the Actor’s Studio and I learned that there is so much more to acting than just “pretending”. I definitely lived the “struggling” actor life in New York for a bit. I did a lot of independent films and theatre before doing “Blood Ties”, the biggest project up to that date. Sadly, the part pretty much ended up on the cutting room floor but it opened up my perspective of the industry. Soon after, I booked a lead part on a German TV show and I guess that’s where my fortune was sealed.
Which actors body of work were you motivated by and which ones influenced your career choices the most?
Well…I guess we are all mesmerized by the great Marlon Brando. I just can’t stop watching him, even today. He brought an almost irreverent quality to acting that allowed him to be so free, so pure and unpredictable. When it comes to transforming oneself, the late Heath Ledger completely amazed me with his performances in “The Dark Knight” and “Brokeback Mountain”. What a treat! I love when I don’t see the actor any more. Dustin Hoffman also has greatly influenced me with his performances and approach to the craft. I learned to never disconnect from what’s happening in the moment, the now, and to be able to disregard any ideas that you have in your head about the character or the scene.
As a student of the acting craft, no doubt, you are well acquainted with the mechanics of character development. What type of characters are you drawn to and appreciate exploring?
For some reason, I love characters who carry a heavy weight or secret with them, which then gets revealed in the course of the story. Facades are always fascinating to me, because they usually protect something very heavy, deep down inside. There is nothing more boring than one-dimensional characters, maybe because they don’t really exist in real life. But in the end, every character is worth exploring if they are well written.
You’re currently on YouTube’s sci-fi series Origin. How were you first introduced to the show and what made you decide to take this on?
It was a very classic process. I got the audition, sent in a self tape, got called back and got the part. There was no doubt about taking the part as the project had all the right ingredients. I loved the script, I love sci-fi and I dig LeftBank, the production company behind “Origin”, which also produced shows like “The Crown” and “Lost.” It was a no-brainer, really.
For those who haven’t seen the series just yet, what’s the premise of Origin and where does your character fit into the scheme of things?
Every group needs an outcast, and Baum is it. While the passengers try to survive on a spaceship that’s infested with aliens and bound to a distant planet without a crew, Baum will make these unwanted and rather nasty remarks to shake things up a bit. He doesn’t have the groups interest at heart, but his own, so every decision he makes will most likely benefit him. But deep down, there is of course, a reason for all this unorthodox behavior, which the audience gets a glimpse of in Episode 6.
On the series, you play the role of Baum Arndt. What can you share with us about his character, what makes him tick and what you enjoy most about playing him on screen?
Baum is clever and calculative. He observes every single person and moment to always be ready to act. It’s his job as a con artist. But it all comes from a protective interior, a hurt soul that seeks companionship above all else, but was never able to find it. What’s going on behind the facade is what’s so fascination about film. Every nuance, every little thought you have as the character shines through. It’s what makes acting in front of the camera so exciting to me. The audience gets into your head and feels every moment, it can read your mind. That’s hard to achieve on stage.
What can viewers expect to see from Baum and the rest of the cast on this season?
What I love about this show is that it’s really an ensemble piece. It’s like “Friends” in space. 😉 Seriously, I think by the end of the show, people will have fallen for the group as a whole. While they are all strangers in the beginning, we start to really care about them and root for them as they fight for survival. Viewers can expect a lot of surprises throughout the show from every single character and of course, the big reveal in the end. We, as the cast, were left in the dark as long as possible. The script to episode 10 finally gave it away.
If you weren’t working on your career as an actor, what type of career or job would you want to be in?
I did and still am working as a director when I have the time. I love working behind the camera. My wife and I have a production company called FilmGym and we’re in development of two feature films and a TV show, but it’s all in early stages. Because of my work in front of the camera, it’s been a bit hard to keep up the other side, but it’s something I will always have as a second leg to stand on. I wouldn’t want to let go of one or the other. When I was a kid, I also loved architecture. I still do. But I’m happy where I am.
When it comes to your personal sense of style, which designers provides you with the best options?
Ufff. Tough one. I do like classic and bold, with a little bit of grunge. MA+, Label Under Construction do amazing stuff. I’m not too big on fashion labels but do own a few pieces that I usually mix with some more rugged stuff. A coat from Zegna mixed with some baggy denim joggers…whatever is comfortable.
We look forward to seeing how things develop on YouTube’s Origin. What other projects do you have coming up?
I did some work on some German projects since and now it’s back to the stage. I did do a limited run of “The Motherf***er With The Hat” and played a character that was a bit out of my comfort zone, which was a good learning curve. Every time, I spent a long time in front of the camera. I can’t wait to get back on stage. But it goes the opposite way as well.
Photos: Markus Nass