Widely known for playing Anton Gatewood on season 4 of Showtime’s The Affair, Meyer has had a fairly busy week working on a short film in Oakland and bouncing around from auditions, chemistry reads, and the occasionally meeting with directors. On the heels of a “fire-ass shoot” we sat with Christopher Meyer at LA’s Departmento to talk about where he sees himself sitting in in the world of film, television, and rap.
Can you tell us a little about your character on the affair?
Anton is an extremely smart kid in an environment where he can’t exactly thrive and he is conflicted because of parents want different things for him. But he is just a regular kid going through life and trying to figure things out like the rest of us. He is such a complex character. I was learning new things about him every episode especially how much of a savage he can be.
Are there certain thing you look out for in a script?
Yeah, I definitely think about thing from a director’s persepctive. So, when stage directions come up or a script highlights certain parts of the cinematography I try to envision them and try to dissect it like a book. I try to imagine the tone of everything and sometimes it turns out being a lot cooler in my mind than it actually is or vice versa. I also look for range in a character because I don't want to play something one dimensional.
Do you look at anyone’s character in film or in any medium really that is inspiring?
As far as acting, Shia Lebeouf ’s career is super fire. I mean you look at it from his perspective it kind of just happened but from my perspective it unraveled beautifully. He did the transformers trilogy and maneuvered the money and publicity he gained to be able to do the projects he wanted to do after. I got to meet him at Tribeca Film Festival and we had a good conversation he’s one of those people where you just know something is different about them the moment you meet them.
And he just has good comedic timing – Even Stevens was my shit growing up!
On that subject, was there a film or a defining moment where everything kind of came into focus?
Yeah, vividly actually! I was obsessed with The Fresh Prince of Bel Air when I was a kid and literally I would hear something funny [Will Smith] would say and I would pause it and run to the mirror and practice the line over and over again until I thought it was as funny. I would even go to school the next day and test out the lines on girls. That’s when I was like “yeah, I can do this!”.
During prep for the shoot Meyer played DJ - showing off his rap tendencies through Kanye West’s discography, Kid Cudi, and the occasional throwback. When we moved into Departmento to shoot a member of the staff lead us through a musical journey by jumping through everything from Nat King Cole to Thundercat. You could almost see Meyer’s musical ear turning to every beat or bass hit.
I know we were listening to some Kanye West and some other Hip-Hip and Rap artists earlier – is that something that you also find inspiring?
Big time! I feel like I'm an actor with a rapper’s life - I dress like a rapper, I listen to rap constantly, I write rap myself. It’s been a big part of who I am but especially in that era when Lil Wayne was the best rapper alive and Drake was just coming up and Wiz Khalfia was super hot. That definitely shaped and modeled me and some of my choices.
It’s interesting to me as a artist myself to see you so open to exploring different lanes of expression in a time when everything is so much about branding yourself as one thing.
True but when you get in one lane you start realize how many lanes there actually are and they all become so interesting. Photography is so interesting to me and the same goes for cinematography. I never had any aspirations of being a director but being on set and seeing with that process is like it became a big time dream of mine. And music is too. Everything kind of runs parallel.
I keep imagining you in your youth and going to the mirror and all of the childhood wonder that was involved - do you still feel like that?
Absolutely, except instead of imitating somebody I’m making it up on my own. Some it is still that though, I draw vibes from different people. The other day I had an audition for a boxer and I spent the whole day listening to one boxer but not his matches, his interviews. So it still does feel the same.
The words may not be mine but they still have to sound real coming out of my mouth. A lot of the actor’s job is unseen and it’s very mysterious. You see me on tv and I may be different people but you don't know what I am in real life. And then when you meet me you're like “woah thats not what I expected”. So there has to be some work there.
I don’t expect for everybody to get it. There’s been so many times when I talk to somebody and there like “if you had a real job..” and I’m like “you don't even know”. They don't understand but I don't expect them to. That’s not why I do what I do.
You don't need somebody’s validation.
No, not even a little bit. I like to leave everything on set. everything happened how it happened and everything turned out the way it was supposed to or intended to. Obviously, I’m my biggest critic but if anything I look for validation the director and if they are cool with what we’ve got then I’m cool it because they are pioneering this whole vision anyway.
You seem to have a pretty clear understanding of yourself – Is hard for you to switch into a brain of a different person or do you feel like it runs parallel to something in your life that helps it kick in?
I honestly feel like you cant do, well not can’t, but with most roles you can’t embrace the character without bringing a part of yourself into it. Anton and I are the same just on different levels. I relate to him as far has relationship to his parents. There’s a lot that I brought from myself but there is a lot of it that I had to work on and had to internalize.
Are you asking if it feels like a switch?
It is a switch. The switch is definitely helped by the environment that you're in, the set that you're on, the actors that you work with, and the director. All of that helps you tap in.
Are there times when you feel like on certain sets or different things cause the energy to be off?
I mean there are one or two takes of an entire episode that might be magic because at the end of the day you're sitting there with 50 people behind the camera -That’s a real thing. Theres someone with a boom mic right over you or times when they stop the take and they will come mess with your face and it’s kind of impossible to be in it all the time. But that’s what the job is. Through all of that there are certain moments when I do lose myself. There are times when the other actors and I just kind of forget that we are filming and there are no cuts. And those moments are magic!
Do you have any advice for young actors or young black folk that are trying to make there way in this industry?
I say keep trying to push the envelope and try to create our own stuff because at the end of the day we all know who this industry is and who it favors. We can’t just sit around and wait for our shit to be created for us. Also just in general this is a marathon and not a race. I’ve been doing this for eight, nine years and my career is just starting . I talked to Cuba Gooding Jr. and he said he didn't book his first burger king commercial until 4 years in it. But if you really love what you're doing you can’t give up. Continue to manifest your dreams. Continue trying to live the right way on the righteous path. It’s as much of a job off set as is it on. You got to have your mind and spirit right because it rarely falls into anyones lap.
Is there anything you want to share about what you have coming out?
I’m shooting a movie right now in Oakland called “All Day and a Night” directed by Joel Robert Cole who co-wrote Black Panther, it’s going to be a Netflix movie and I think it’s going to be different that anything Netflix has seen so far. I’m also working on more music soon - I have like 30 songs in the vault that are all working tracks.
Watch Christopher Meyer on Showtime’s The Affair and support his coming endeavors. I personally can’t wait for the day we get to premiere one of his songs on Flaunt! Stay tuned!!
Photographed by: Danielle Defoe
Styled by: Sadie Sapphire with clothing available at Departamento LA
Groomed by: Christina Guerra using Baxter of California at Celestine Agency
Produced by: BJ Panda Bear
Special Thanks to Departamento LA