CHAD MICHAEL COLLINS
What’s your story? Who is Chad as an actor and Chad in the eyes of his family and friends?
My story...well, to keep it short, I'd say I'm a country boy living in the big city and living the life of a pretend-player. I grew up in rural upstate New York, in a small town where I played sports, worked on local farms, and enjoyed a wonderful, simple country existence. Then I headed off to college and then to LA with a journalism degree in hand, started working in the entertainment industry, which eventually lead to a career as an actor. In the eyes of my family and friends, I'd say I'm curious learner, a happy-go-lucky guy, a resourceful Boy Scout of a dude overall.
How was the transition from working in Public Relations to becoming an actor yourself?
I got my start in LA as a publicist's assistant, and from the get-go was able to experience the entertainment industry behind the curtain. I was on the Paramount lot with our clients, I'd go to late-night talk show tapings, red carpet premieres, industry parties and mixers, and I was always meeting people in the industry. Eventually, a few of them convinced me to try an acting class, so I did, and really dug it. I had a lot of fun with it, and was able to book some pretty good projects out of the gates, but I was very casual about it for years as I continued to work in public relations. Eventually, the projects got bigger and better, I started having more fun, and decided a few years ago to focus on it full-time. And here we are!
How did acting start for you?
As I touched on above, a few people in the industry - talent managers, mainly - that I had gotten to know and respect put the bug in my ear about acting. I had never acted a day in my life before taking my first class in LA, but the mental and physical components spoke to me; it reminded me of playing sports in a way, developing both aspects of the craft simultaneously. So I started to audition, started to book some roles, get more experience, but I was very wishy-washy for a while about it, just treating it like a fun hobby. It wasn't until I started doing the Sony Pictures SNIPER film franchise that I started to take the idea of acting as a career seriously.
Do you remember your first ever audition? How was it?
I think I do, and in typical nightmare first-time fashion, it went horribly. I was jacked up on nerves, couldn't spit out my lines, and didn't know anything about the audition process. But, on the back end of it, I lived and was inspired to learn more about the whole process and get better. Hundreds of auditions later, I think I've kinda sorta figured it out!
What inspires you?
I'm a big fan of practicing gratitude and appreciation and am always consciously looking for things that inspire me. Nature is always a go-to, just going on a great solo hike up in the hills do wonders for the spirit. I try and take time every morning to focus on things that I appreciate, and that always inspires me.
How was it to play Master Sgt Brandon Beckett across all successful “Sniper” films?
I've played 'Brandon Beckett' across four SNIPER films now, and it's always a blast. I grew up on action movies, and I distinctly remember the original SNIPER film with Tom Berenger and Billy Zane. To have been able to hop aboard the franchise and star in the lead role alongside Berenger and Zane has been a surreal dream come true. I've always had a lot of love and respect for soldiers, whether it was inspired from my GI Joe collection or family members who served, so to be able to represent them as 'Brandon' has always been a blessing and an honor.
Tell us a little bit more about your character Ezra Orson Scott Card’s Sci-fi TV Series “Extinct.” What qualities does he have that you can definitely relate to and why?
My 'Ezra' character in our new sci-fi series "Extinct" is cut from the same cloth as a 'Brandon Beckett' in that he is a former Army Ranger, so he has that military bearing and experience and all the leadership qualities that come with it. He ends up being the de facto leader of the small group of people that are reborn 400 years in the future because of this. He's also a family man and has all those protective instincts as well as a strong sense of justice to try and do what's right.
Out of all the roles that you played, is there any particular favorite?
I've loved every role I've stepped into, but there are a few that stand out besides the obvious SNIPER and "Extinct" roles. Playing 'Frankenstein's Monster' on "Once Upon a Time" was a blast, with the fun costume and the three hours of makeup and FX I went through every day to play the reanimated corpse. In my upcoming film HOWLERS, I got to play an old West gunslinger transported to the modern day to hunt down killer werewolves, so I got to check 'cowboy' off my bucket list. Having played so many good guys, it's also a lot of fun for me to play characters with bad intentions, like my 'John Collins' mercenary in Hulu's "Freakish" last year. But any actor will tell you that playing a 'bad guy' is always a blast.
Is there any actor (dead or alive) that you dream to work with and why?
I've been pretty lucky to have worked with handfuls of great actors already in my career, but I'd love to work with some of the actors from my favorite movies and TV shows growing up. Mel Gibson because of BRAVEHEART, Brad Pitt because of FIGHT CLUB, Patrick Stewart because of "Star Trek: The Next Generation", Jennifer Garner because of "Alias"...I've got a pretty long list!
What do you think is your greatest achievement in your career so far?
I don't think I have a direct answer for that, but personally, I think that I've always set a strong intention in my acting career pursuit to constantly learn, grow and get better. I look back and think that my career has unfolded in such a great incremental way in the way that the roles and projects have steadily been bigger and more challenging. I never wanted to be an actor for the fame, but rather as a chance to learn and grow, so I'm proud that I've been able to take a page out of Channing Tatum's book in that he always gets better with each and every project, and that's been my goal all along.
If you are not filming, what else keeps you busy?
I'm a pretty active guy, a weekend warrior if you will, so I'm always out hiking or playing basketball, taking boxing classes or hitting the gym in general. I also try and make time every week to serve as a mentor and offer help and guidance to actors trying to get to the next level in their careers, which is a great way for me to pay it forward.
How do you balance your time?
I think one of the trickier parts of being an actor is finding balance in your life. It can be feast or famine at times, where you find yourself - like I did last year - working out of town for six straight months, or conversely find yourself not working for six months. So I take the down time when it comes and try and learn new skills, travel, read, and educate myself more and more about the entertainment industry. I also love games and gaming, so I will find the time to play Warcraft or Magic: the Gathering or other games that are very engaging. You can also always find me in the middle of three or four books, and that's not counting all the comics that I devour!
A dream role that you wanna play? Dream project?
I'm a really big fan of comic books and it's a great time to be an actor with such a preference - there are so many TV shows and films geared around comic book properties right now. Being a sci-fi, fantasy and comic nerd my whole life, I'd love play in the Marvel or DC universe in some way, shape, or form. I know that it's just a matter of time!
Top 3 songs in your playlist right now.
I'm a big rock 'n' roll guy, and the 90s was my musical sweet spot. I'd say the songs that are getting the most love from me right now would be:
'Repeater' by Fugazi
'John the Baptist Blues' by Local H
'Take My Bones Away' by Baroness
What do you think is the best decision that you made in the past 24 hours?
Sleeping. That sounds lame, but I just returned from a whirlwind experience at the Salt Lake Comic Con promoting "Extinct". I love mixing it up with fans and getting the chance to talk about this show that I'm so proud of, but eight straight hours of talking, taking pictures and giving hugs and then all the travel back and forth is definitely cause for sleeping in the next day!
Any upcoming and exciting project for to get your fans excited?
I've got a few things that will be released in the near future, but the one that I'm really excited about is the action-horror film HOWLERS that I mentioned above. It's a really fun 80s John Carpenter throwback, and I've never shot so many action scenes in my life. I fight werewolves with my fists, my feet, my pearl-handled revolver, my Winchester rifle, a crossbow, double battle axes and more. It was a crazy experience, doing all that fight choreography, so I can't wait for everyone to see the fur fly early next year. Also, Sean Patrick Flanery. He's fantastic in this, as always, and I know audiences will really dig this film.
Any advice you can give to any aspiring actors / artists out there?
The advice I always give to actors and creatives I speak to is to do everything you can to take care of your mindset. You can study with the best acting teachers in the world and be the most talented person in the room, but the thing that sets so many successful actors apart is their mindset. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude and creating unwavering belief in yourself and your abilities are big keys for myself, and I've seen the wonderful manifestations of that express from the inside to the outside.
If you’re a book, what type of book are you and why?
I'd say I'm a weathered and dog-eared old Boy Scout handbook, because I'm pretty well-rounded and self-sufficient, but a master of none. I can do a lot of things decently, but I'm a black belt in no one thing in particular.
If you will be given the chance and opportunity to help a specific charity, what would it be and why?
Personally, I love setting aside money every month to help creatives in this town realize their TV and film dreams; I love donating to crowdfunding campaigns of those trying to make their own content like an indie film. But in terms of charities, I'd donate to any organization that focuses on personal empowerment. If there's one thing I've come across that has changed my life for the better, it's the personal growth and development tools offered by the Tony Robbins and Abraham-Hicks of the world. Change starts from the inside out, and everyone has the ability to do it!