Voice of San­ity

DAMAN chats with christo­pher Larkin about “the 100,” the pLight of asian-amer­i­can ac­tors in hoL­Ly­wood and more

DA MAN - - Celebrities - pho­tog­ra­phy Mitchell NguyeN Mccor­Mack styLing Suzi rezler

DA MAN chats with Christo­pher Larkin about his role in hit TV se­ries “The 100,” the plight of Asian-Amer­i­can ac­tors in Hol­ly­wood and more.

Pho­tog­ra­phy Mitchell Nguyen McCor­mack

born in korea, adopted by par­ents of French­cana­dian and ir­ish des­cent and raised in the united States, ac­tor christo­pher larkin has quite a rich heritage. his tal­ents are sim­i­larly ex­pan­sive, en­com­pass­ing act­ing on stage as well as on film, along with a gift for mu­sic. to­day, he’s mostly known as a se­ries regular of “the 100”; but it cer­tainly seems that we’re go­ing to see more from larkin in the days to come.

da man: hi, christo­pher; glad to have you on board. so, you will be work­ing on sea­son five of “the 100” this au­gust. what can we look for­ward to from this new sea­son?

christo­pher Larkin: there’s a six-year time jump be­tween sea­sons four and five. half of the cast is back in space. like the fans, these are the only things i know. i’m es­sen­tially kept in the dark un­til we start film­ing. it’s a pretty ter­ri­fy­ing place to ex­ist, but i’ve got­ten used to it as the years have gone by. it helps keep you on your toes. it helps keep things fresh.

da: what do you think is the se­cret be­hind the se­ries’ en­dur­ing suc­cess?

cL: [Se­ries de­vel­oper] Ja­son rothen­berg is un­afraid to start from scratch ev­ery sea­son. it’s a huge risk for a showrun­ner to take. that amount of world-de­stroy­ing and re­gen­er­a­tion year af­ter year would sink most other se­ries. But our writer’s room con­tin­ues to wel­come and ul­ti­mately over­come that chal­lenge. it’s the main rea­son we’re still on the air.

da: could you tell us what ini­tially in­spired you to sign up for “the 100”?

cL: i wish there was a mo­ti­vat­ing story to share, but the truth is that in­spi­ra­tion had very lit­tle to do with it. i needed a job and “the 100” was kind enough to take a chance on me. at that point in time, i would’ve taken nearly any­thing that came my way. For­tu­nately for me, i ended up win­ning the lot­tery. mo­ral com­pass of the en­tire se­ries. he’s also fiercely loyal to the peo­ple he loves and is of­ten self­less to a fault. com­pared to Monty, my own mo­ral com­pass and sense of loy­alty pale in com­par­i­son. i wish that i was more his equal on these fronts.

da: you’ve been on the show since the be­gin­ning. how have you seen both “the 100” and your own char­ac­ter progress through the sea­sons?

cL: i tell ev­ery­one who’s new to the se­ries that they should make it through the first four episodes be­fore de­cid­ing whether or not to call it quits. a lot of view­ers give up im­me­di­ately af­ter the pi­lot, and i don’t blame them. Pi­lots are re­ally hard to get right. But the se­ries takes a dark turn in episode 104, and things only get darker from there. “the 100” has also had its fair share of grow­ing pains. cer­tain mis­takes were made along the way, but i think it’s made ev­ery­one stronger in the end. aware­ness leads to di­a­logue. Di­a­logue leads to change. Some of our fans are still right­fully up­set, but i’m glad that ev­ery­one’s talk­ing. We’re all gain­ing em­pa­thy and evolv­ing to­gether.

da: is there any­thing you wish your char­ac­ter could, or would, do as the se­ries goes along?

cL: Quite hon­estly, i’d like noth­ing more than for Monty to live out the rest of his days in peace. af­ter killing his mother— twice—and hold­ing his dy­ing best friend in his arms, i feel like he’s earned it. at the ripe old age of 16, i be­lieve he’s be­yond ready for re­tire­ment.

da: mov­ing on to act­ing in gen­eral, is there any­thing you would like to ex­plore more within the realm of film­mak­ing?

cL: i haven’t done a film in over a decade, so i sup­pose per­form­ing in a film is cur­rently at the top of my list. i’ve been fo­cus­ing pri­mar­ily on theater and mu­sic, so it would be nice to get an in­die or two un­der my belt.

da: we un­der­stand that you orig­i­nally ma­jored in theater. how did you make the tran­si­tion from be­ing on stage to shoot­ing films?

cL: the tran­si­tion was dif­fi­cult at first. i had a pre­con­ceived no­tion that work­ing in theater was dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent than work­ing in film. they’re clearly sep­a­rate medi­ums, but i’ve found that the sim­i­lar­i­ties far out­weigh the dif­fer­ences. “the 100” is a height­ened drama, so the stakes are gen­er­ally very high. your ob­jec­tives and re­sult­ing tac­tics need to be present at all times. i used to think that sub­tlety in front of the cam­era would be the most ef­fec­tive route, but i now be­lieve that tak­ing risks and pulling out all the stops leads to a much more truth­ful, di­ver­si­fied per­for­mance.

da: do you have any other film or theater projects be­sides “the 100”?

cL: My girl­friend and i have been de­vel­op­ing a play to­gether for the last three years. i’m pretty sure that there have been seven work­shops in to­tal so far. We’ve trav­eled around the coun­try try­ing to lock down a pro­duc­tion, and it’s fi­nally be­ing put up next spring. the piece is called “No­mad Mo­tel” and starts pre­views at the city the­atre in Pitts­burgh on May 12th, 2018. i’m very much look­ing for­ward to bring this world to life.

da: if you weren’t act­ing, what would you be prob­a­bly do­ing right now?

cL: i hope that i’d be liv­ing a much more phil­an­thropic life. one of my big­gest con­cerns lately is that i’ve had a very self­ish ex­is­tence thus far. i’ve never given back to this world in any kind of mean­ing­ful way. this up­sets me on a daily ba­sis, and it’s some­thing i hope to rem­edy as soon as pos­si­ble.


it was sup­posed to be re­leased last Novem­ber, but i made a last-minute de­ci­sion to ditch garageBand and work with a pro­ducer/en­gi­neer who ac­tu­ally knows what they’re do­ing. So, i flew to New york city and re-recorded the en­tire thing from scratch. it’s been a huge learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. at the end of the day, i just hope it con­nects with a few lis­ten­ers who don’t al­ready share my last name.

da: how would you de­scribe your per­sonal style of mu­sic? what, or who, in­flu­enced your mu­si­cal­ity?

cL: try­ing to em­u­late elliott Smith. try­ing to em­u­late Nick Drake. try­ing to merge the lyri­cism of leonard cohen with the sen­si­bil­i­ties of Suf­jan Stevens. re­al­iz­ing half­way that these em­u­la­tions are not only un­healthy, but highly un­re­al­is­tic. then tak­ing what i’ve learned from these icons and cre­at­ing a voice of my own.

da: and mov­ing on to more per­sonal stuff: you’ve re­lo­cated from new york to Los an­ge­les. what was the tran­si­tion like for you at the time and how are you cop­ing with your new home?

cL: i left New york with a huge chip on my shoul­der and swore that i would never live there again. So, in a cer­tain sense, the tran­si­tion was quite an easy one to make. i spent the first few months in la on a friend’s couch with no job, zero prospects and very lit­tle in my bank ac­count. But i was happy to be mak­ing mis­takes in a new city. i was happy to watch the sun rise and set over the Pa­cific ev­ery day. i’ve got a lot of friends who have tran­si­tioned from Nyc to la and the re­sults are univer­sal: liv­ing in los an­ge­les is much less of a grind. on ev­ery count. i’ve since for­given New york, but i will never re­gret mak­ing the move out west.

da: have you ever felt that as an asianamerican ac­tor, the roles you could play in hol­ly­wood films are lim­ited?

cL: Name one asian-amer­i­can star who is cur­rently in the game. Just one. i can’t do it. you can’t do it. No one on this planet can do it be­cause that per­son doesn’t ex­ist. We had anna May Wong. We had Bruce lee. But those are the only stars we’ve ever had, and they’re both long dead and gone. asian-amer­i­cans are af­forded very few

op­por­tu­ni­ties in this in­dus­try and even when they come about, they’re of­ten handed to ac­tors with a stronger pull on the mar­ket. ac­tors who are al­ready es­tab­lished names. and since there are no a-list ac­tors of asian des­cent, they end up go­ing to performers of a slightly lighter com­plex­ion. i’m not re­spon­si­ble for the “Scar­lett & emma & tilda & Matt” dilemma. hol­ly­wood did that. it doesn’t even know it is still do­ing that. this is the mess that we’re con­tin­u­ally try­ing to clean up.

da: are there any other fac­tors— per­sonal or oth­er­wise—that you see as ma­jor chal­lenges in your ca­reer?

cL: it seems like half of the bat­tle is sim­ply get­ting out of my own way. if i was able to do that, i feel like this would be a much smoother ride. But i’d also lose my edge, which is the only thing that keeps me go­ing some­times. Find­ing that bal­ance be­tween self­dep­re­ca­tion and self-ac­cep­tance is a life­long chal­lenge. a life­long chal­lenge, but also a life­long goal.

da: have you ever turned down roles that you con­sider prob­lem­atic?

cL: turn­ing down roles im­plies that i’m get­ting straight of­fers, which is far from the case. But i’ve def­i­nitely turned down au­di­tions that i’ve found to be prob­lem­atic along the way. ev­ery asian ac­tor that ac­cepts a stereo­typ­i­cal role sets the rest of the com­mu­nity back, re­gard­less of their orig­i­nal in­ten­tions. even when i was first start­ing out, i was hy­per­aware of this dis­par­ity and have been fight­ing for equal­ity ever since. it’s an uphill bat­tle, but we’re gain­ing ground ev­ery day. i just want to keep mov­ing the nee­dle for­ward.

da: still, do you feel that things are chang­ing for asian-amer­i­can tal­ent in hol­ly­wood?

cL: ab­so­lutely. De­spite my soapbox rant­ings, things have never been bet­ter for asian-amer­i­cans in hol­ly­wood. the need for ac­tors of color is at an all-time high, and tele­vi­sion is lead­ing the way by a land­slide. theater and film don’t hold a can­dle next to tele­vi­sion in the di­ver­sity depart­ment. this isn’t just my opin­ion. it’s an ob­jec­tive fact. at times, it can feel like the stu­dios and net­works are just fill­ing their quo­tas. they’ve all got their token mi­nor­ity boxes to check. But at least those quo­tas and boxes are in place. like af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion, it’s far from the per­fect sys­tem, but it’s the best thing we’ve got at the mo­ment.

da: what ad­vice would you give to young asian-amer­i­cans who want to make it in hol­ly­wood?

cL: Due to your par­ents’ ex­pec­ta­tions, i fully un­der­stand why you’re cur­rently pur­su­ing a de­gree in medicine or law. But if act­ing is your true call­ing, fol­low that im­pulse and let it lead you into obliv­ion. We need you. Now more than ever. there’s no guar­an­tee of suc­cess, but we can’t af­ford to lose your voice. in this par­tic­u­lar case, there re­ally is strength in num­bers. With­out an army, change will never come about.

da: who would you con­sider your most im­por­tant role mod­els?

cL: Sid­ney Poitier, for prov­ing that an ac­tor of color can “make it” in this in­dus­try. Paul robe­son, for prov­ing that an ac­tor of color can leave be­hind a le­gacy, de­spite never “mak­ing it” in this in­dus­try. da: out­side of work, what usu­ally keeps you busy? or per­haps: when you’re not busy, how do you usu­ally spend your time? cL: on a pro­duc­tive day, it’s usu­ally spent writ­ing, record­ing or mix­ing a new song. on a less pro­duc­tive day, it’s usu­ally spent feel­ing sorry for my­self. re­sults may vary.

da: have you crossed any­thing from your bucket list re­cently?

cL: this past March, i sat in a Dublin pub called “the cob­ble­stone.” i threw back an un­healthy amount of guin­ness and Pow­ers Whiskey while a live band played tra­di­tional folk songs in the corner. thanks to my folks, i grew up im­mersed in ir­ish cul­ture, mu­sic and folk­lore. a long­time dream of mine has been to set foot in ire­land be­fore i died, so i’m happy to have crossed this one off the list.

da: what was the most im­por­tant, mo­men­tous or sig­nif­i­cant life event that hap­pened to you re­cently?

cL: My un­cle, Fred­er­ick curro, passed away ear­lier this year. My par­ents were on hol­i­day with him in Que­bec when he suf­fered a mas­sive heart at­tack. De­spite pump­ing his chest in the front seat of their car, they weren’t able to re­vive him. For ev­ery­one in my im­me­di­ate fam­ily, it was a tragic re­minder of how frag­ile life is. of how it can end in an in­stant. of our own im­pend­ing mor­tal­ity and how help­less we are to stop it. go­ing back to your ear­lier ques­tion, this best en­cap­su­lates the themes and sounds of my up­com­ing al­bum. da: Look­ing ahead, what would be the next big mile­stone you hope to achieve in the near fu­ture? cL: reach­ing 40 years old with my san­ity fully in­tact.

da: all in all, what keeps you go­ing each and ev­ery day?

cL: the feel­ing that i’ve ac­com­plished noth­ing so far. ad­mit­tedly, it’s not the health­i­est way to go about look­ing at your life on a daily ba­sis. it can par­a­lyze you if you’re not care­ful. But i find that it keeps me mo­ti­vated more than any­thing else. con­stant dis­sat­is­fac­tion is an im­por­tant part of the process. even though the odds are stacked against me, it makes me be­lieve that the best is yet to come. the feel­ing is of­ten short-lived, but for the briefest of mo­ments, it makes me be­lieve that any­thing is pos­si­ble.


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