Christopher Gorham panel at MCM Birmingham Comic Con

Christopher Gorham MCM Birmingham 7118

“I’ve been very fortunate, I really have,” said Christopher Gorham during his panel at the MCM Birmingham Comic Con about having played a wide range of characters. From a high school student on Popular, a CIA agent on Covert Affairs, voicing The Flash in the animated Justice League movies, and even playing the Wizard of Oz in Once Upon a Time, Christopher Gorham has been able to adapt to many varied roles.

When asked what his most challenging role was, Christopher noted that it wasn’t exactly a role, but being away from home. He recalled shooting the sci-fi show Odyssey 5 in Toronto, Canada, and telling his wife, “’I’ll see you in five weeks when I finish this pilot, so take care of our one month old baby by yourself.’ Every time my wife was pregnant I would get a show that shot in Canada. I think she’s starting to think I’m doing it on purpose.”

Christopher Gorham in Covert AffairsKnown for playing August ‘Auggie’ Anderson on Covert Affairs, the later seasons saw the cast travelling to different locations around the world. “It was only in season two that we really started going abroad,” said Christopher, noting how they shot in Istanbul for Auggie’s flashback episode, Half a World Away. “The studio then allowed us to go on production trips four times a year,” added Christopher. “It really broadened the reach of our show and exposed our audience to the world. It gave the show a real sense of authenticity that was unique at the time.”

As well as starring in Covert Affairs, Christopher also directed a few episodes of the series too. He explained how this initially began when he pitched to the marketing department of the USA Network his idea to give him a camera so that he could shoot a lot of behind the scenes photos and videos, which could be viewed on the website to promote the show. It proved so successful that they allowed him the opportunity to direct an episode in season three. “It’s a ton of work,” said Christopher of the experience. “Suddenly I have all the toys available to me, which is exciting, but then there’s more choices to be made. But I think I avoided most of the pitfalls.”

Asked about the cancellation of Covert Affairs, he mentioned how every other show that he had worked on only lasted around one or two years. “The fact that we went for five, six years, I knew to appreciate it. It’s sad, I would have loved to have kept going, but I’m so grateful for the extraordinary amount of time that we had, which was 75 episodes.”

Christopher was then asked how he would structure his life when committed to a long-term series. “During Covert Affairs, it’s actually an incredible luxury to know that you have a job the next season,” he said. “Up until really after season five, we always knew before we finished each season that we would come back the next year, so I felt no pressure to go out and try get another gig. If I was offered a film and it was on location and I didn’t love it, I could feel free to turn it down because I knew I had a job I could go back to.”

With his character Auggie being blind, he was questioned on how he prepared for this aspect of the character. “When I went in to audition for the role I was actually wearing sunglasses,” he said, adding how it’s a common stereotype. “Most [blind] people don’t really wear sunglasses. I didn’t know that at the time. The casting director said, ‘You need to take your glasses off, we’re not going to use them on this show.’” When cast for the pilot he decided to contact the National Institute for the Blind in Toronto and received coaching lessons. “I would go back there every year from the beginning of the season and do a refresher course.”

“What happens to blind people all the time is that people come up and grab you, try to help you when you’re just walking down the street, and it’s very disorientating,” said Christopher. He then recounted a story about times when he had to stay in character when filming abroad for Covert Affairs, notably when it came to filming in a mosque in Istanbul. “A local production crew had told us that they don’t really allow fictional shows to shoot inside the mosque. But they said, ‘Don’t worry about it, we told them you’re the blind host of a travel show.’ I thought to myself, ‘That’s a travel show I’d like to see.’ They said, ‘The only thing is, we need you to stay in character the entire time you’re in the mosque.’ So I did. We were shooting for the show inside, walking around listening to the sounds of the mosque, which is actually really beautiful I think…and what would happen is guys would come up and grab me, start speaking to me in Arabic and ask if I need help! Someone from the crew would have to run up and tell them, ‘No, he’s fine.’”

Christopher Gorham MCM Birmingham 7105“Doing the action for Auggie was such a fun challenge,” said Christopher. He explained how Doug Liman, director of The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow was an executive producer on the show and helped choreograph a fight scene. “He said the fight scene we did in season one on a train was his favourite fight scene that he’d done up to that point.” Referring to the episode Communication Breakdown, it features Auggie helping his ex-girlfriend Natasha and at one point he fights two members of the Russian mob who are after her. “The specific challenges of choreographing the scene, putting Auggie in a situation where he could gain leverage in a fight, was really fun.”

With questions opened to attendees, Christopher was asked about his role voicing The Flash on the animated Justice League movies. He admitted to being a Justice League fan, watching the cartoons when growing up. “I was really excited to be a part of it,” said Christopher. “When I showed up to do the first film, War, they showed me some of the artwork and I was really impressed and loved the character design. When I saw the finished film I was just really glad to be a part of it because it’s a solid movie, and the other one too, Throne of Atlantis.”

Asked about his involvement on Ugly Betty as Henry Grubstick, Christopher revealed that it was the show’s creator, Silvio Horta, who invited him along, having worked with him on Jake 2.0. He also added that he had a lot of freedom when it came to what Henry would look like. “From the glasses, the sweater vest, the way he walked, it was a creation that came from my brain. And then it worked, because originally that part was only supposed to be for one episode.”

An attendee then mentioned the drama Harper’s Island, in which family and friends gather for a wedding, one-by one they are being murdered. “That was a really unique show,” said Christopher, describing how the cast were told in their contracts that they were not guaranteed to appear in all of the episodes. “They didn’t tell anyone who the killer was at the beginning and they also told us that they weren’t going to tell us ahead of time when our characters were going to be killed off.” He explained that as soon as the script for the latest episode arrived the cast would rush through it to see if they’d still be alive.

When questioned about his appearance on Once Upon a Time he was asked if he would be appearing in the next season. “Nothing’s planned at the moment,” came the response. “I know Eddie [Kitsis] and Adam [Horowitz] who created that show, I know them from Popular, they were writers on that. They called me up and asked me to come do that part, so if they want me to come back I’m always happy to.” Christopher also revealed that when he accepted his part on Once Upon a Time, he had no idea that he was going to end up being the Wizard of Oz.

The panel closed with Christopher talking about his role in the upcoming film Po. “It’s a very sweet independent movie about a recently widowed father,” explained Christopher. “This dad is having to raise his nine-year old autistic son by himself.” He added that the film will show how the experience itself can be difficult yet rewarding.

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