Chad Lindberg opened a decade long chapter of his life for the whole world to see in the documentary My Big Break (now available on DVD). Join us as we discuss what it takes to make it in Hollywood, how fans brought him back from the dead (so to speak), and what it is like to be an uncool vampire.
MV: Welcome to Movie Vine, Chad.
Chad: Thank you.
MV: To begin can we discuss My Big Break and how you first became involved in the documentary?
Chad: Basically it’s a Hollywood documentary of what it’s really like to go to Hollywood. What happens to you, the obstacles you have to overcome, what happens in your relationships, what happens when fame happens, and what happens when it doesn’t happen. The highs and the lows and everything involved. I was living in the house with four actors and a director, Tony Zierra who was basically living on our couch at the time. It was me, Wes Bentley, Brad Rowe, and Greg Fawcett. And he started rolling cameras on us. He got before success and he got after success. Wes started hitting, and I started hitting, and Brad started hitting. Greg wasn’t the one that was hitting and it kind of created this crazy time. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was a crazy time. Tony got it all on tape and it takes place over ten years. Have you seen it?
MV: Yes, I have. It’s incredible.
Chad: It’s very raw and it’s very honest. I don’t think people are expecting it to be so honest.
MV: No, it was definitely heartbreaking. It shows the true price of fame in a brutal honesty that I was impressed and shocked to see. Were you aware of the growing tension in the house, or were you guys so wrapped up in everything that was going on that it wasn’t obvious?
Chad: You know we didn’t feel the tension of it back then. I mean we didn’t. It was such a magical time. It really was in a lot of ways. We were all very, very supportive of each other, and at the time everyone was open to doing this documentary. And, as you see in this film, Tony had made Carving Out Our Name which we all went to in Toronto in 2001. And, then so as things shifted over time, people grew apart doing their own thing, and things change. But at the time, we were very open to it and I was very open to it. We were having the time of our lives.
MV: What do you think is the largest misconception people have about Hollywood?
Chad: Good question. That it’s easy. They think it’s easy. It’s really fun, but it’s very hard. And, it’s very competitive. You have to develop a thick skin because you’re gonna hear all of it. You’re going to hear every negative sort of aspect of yourself, what people didn’t like, what people liked. It’s a hard town, but it’s also a very rewarding place. I think. It’s been very good to me. And, you have to give it time. And, you have to have perseverance I think in this place. I think the biggest misconception is that it’s easy. Or, that you can just get famous ‘like that’. You know?
MV: Is that how you felt when you were first starting out, that it was going to be easy?
Chad: When I first started out I just put on my blinders and I went. There was no question about it. I was going to do it. And, it started happening for me relatively soon. I mean I got into L.A. and I started working two months after I was here, and I’ve been working since. Everyone’s path is different. There are no rules. There’s no rhyme or reason to it. As it went on, as you see in the documentary, I paid for it later. A lot of those things kind of caught up with me. I had to move back home. I had to reevaluate for a little while, come back to L.A., and sort of like start over. Which I think is very healthy to do, and what people need to do to grow and appreciate your craft.
MV: Do you have any advice that you wish you could give your younger self starting out?
Chad: (laughs) Oh man! I would tell him to “save your money” (laughs). Save your money. But, you know what, there was no telling me anything back then. I had a friend, Elizabeth Yoffe who produced the film, her and I were friends and I had met her a long, long time ago. She brought me down to L.A. and introduced me to some people. Her and I would have discussions about this. I would be “I’m never gonna do that, and I’m never gonna do that, and I’m never gonna do that”. I would say these things and she would be “uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh” (laughs). I came down to L.A. and man I’ve done all of those things (laughs). You know? And, you make decisions. I made decisions back in the day, I don’t know, I didn’t realize what I had at times. Because I got it so quickly. It’s interesting.
MV: I think that’s normal with any career, but with acting especially. There are a lot of things out there where you’re like “I’m never doing that” and the next thing you know you’re like “I gotta pay the bills, I’m doing that”.
Chad: Yeah, I had a little bit of an attitude about it. I’m very grateful, don’t get me wrong, but I guess just in that young way. Now I appreciate it on just a whole new level, and feel very blessed that I get to work in this town. Cuz, it’s tough.
MV: But, like you said you made it early and you’re still going. So there’s something there. It’s your persistence, attitude, and drive. You’re a working actor. That’s everyone’s dream.
Chad: Right. Yeah, I look back and I get a little scared cuz I’m like what if it didn’t happen? Sometimes it doesn’t happen so I feel very lucky. Very lucky. And, I would just tell anyone that wanted to come here you just have to wait it out. You just have to do it. You just have to break walls down.
MV: What kind of reaction have you had from your fans who have watched the documentary?
Chad: Uh, they’re a little shaken up by it afterwards. Everyone that I talk to sort of, they don’t know what to say, and kind of feels like that gut reaction. That pit in the stomach sort of reaction that you get from it. There have been a lot of different actors that we’ve shown it to when we’ve done festivals, and some of them have come up to us and been like “That’s it. I’m out. That’s not for me.” And they know. They know. It’s sort of like I think when you watch it as an actor or something you’re gonna know I think if it’s for you or if it’s not. Overall people love it. They love its honesty. You know, it’s five guys that you don’t see opening up to the camera in film often. It was a very cool thing to look back and have that. To watch it and know it’s there. And, know that it’s out there teaching and helping people. I think that’s what it’s for.
MV: Absolutely. I definitely think it’s a film that every aspiring actor, filmmaker, writer, or anything should watch. Because I think so many people have an unrealistic idea of fame. I think it is something that if people watch it they’ll know. “Are you willing to go through that or not? How much do you want it?”.
Chad: Totally. And, that the thing is you can’t avoid it. You can’t avoid any of the situations in that film. Like you’re going to have to go through one of those things. Whether it be your looks, whether it be anything, I mean, you’re going to go through it. I call it the ‘L.A. machine’. No one avoids it. You know?
MV: Yep. You get thrown right in there.
Chad: You get thrown in there, man. Yeah. And, at times it’s f*cking awesome. You know what I mean? It’s awesome! So, you take the good with the bad. And, the bad with the good.
MV: I was surprised to see how calculated everything is. For instance, with the red carpet events, how do you cope with that kind of controlled chaos?
Chad: I don’t think that you ever get used to it. You’re always on edge before you go. Gotta have like a drink (laughs). Sort of relax a little bit. And, then once you’re on there, I think you just gotta breathe and take it one step at a time. Because it’s really intense because you have a bunch of people pulling at you in different directions, calling your name, taking pictures, and pulling you everywhere. It’s a little overwhelming at times. And, then Tony depicts that beautifully with Brad in the movie at his premiere. You get the real sense that they’re in there when he turns and you’re like “oh” and you get that wave. It’s like a wave that comes over you. A nauseous wave sometimes (laughs). But they’re also really heightened and amazing in their own way. So, you know, it’s an interesting place the red carpet.
MV: Kind of changing gears, many actors are hesitant to join social networking, and back when you were starting out you didn’t have the option to connect with your fans. But, now you have really embraced this interaction. How important is it for you, especially as an actor, to have that immediate connection with your fans?
Chad: I think it’s become invaluable. Especially Twitter, for me, I’ve really used it to draw awareness to different projects that I’m doing. The fans got me back on Supernatural because they created so much noise, and I sort of led them in a ‘let’s get Ash back on Supernatural‘. And, it actually happened on season five for an episode. It was because of the fans and it was because of Twitter. I think it’s amazing. When I got here we had pagers and the internet wasn’t even around yet (laughs). So now, it’s a whole different time. Also, there’s the flip-side of that coin, the internet is very dangerous at times. People have their camera phones. You gotta watch out now because you just never know. I mean pictures get everywhere. You just never know. It’s so dangerous. But, it’s been very good for me. I love it. I think Twitter is fun.
MV: Have you been provoked by someone who was recording you? Or, have people tried to get a rise out of you while they’re recording so they can post it online?
Chad: Um, no, mostly I mean I get it. I’m very understanding of what comes with fame. People are gonna pull out their cameras, and they’re gonna take pictures, and they’re gonna take videos. I don’t mind it for the most part. You know at conventions it’s totally fine. That’s what we’re there for. You know what I mean? The next day I’ll go online and see like a hundred new videos of the Supernatural convention wherever I was at. And, that’s OK. That’s OK. It’s just that if people were doing it inappropriately, like if you’re out and about, or they follow you into a restroom. Or, if they’re taking a picture but they’re standing like three feet in front of you, and are starting to take a picture and they haven’t asked you. Sometimes people look at you like a zoo animal when you’re famous. It’s like you’re not even there. They’ll talk about you as if you’re not even there. It’s fascinating. It’s absolutely fascinating.
MV: What’s your preference when people want to approach you? If a fan sees you on the street would you rather them walk up to you, introduce themselves, or just kind of wave to you from afar?
Chad: Absolutely! Absolutely! I love it when fans come up to me. Most of the time. We all have times when we’re in a bad mood or maybe not feeling as approachable. Sometimes I don’t want that and it happens. You just roll with it. Sometimes you don’t want to talk to anybody. But for the most part, I know what I’m getting into, and I know the reality of the situation, so I have fun with it. 99% of situations I come across are amazing. And when people tell you that they love your work, I mean that’s what it’s all about.
MV: What inspired you to start doing the stage dives at the Supernatural conventions?
Chad: (laughs) Well everybody kinda has their own persona at these conventions. I sort of like turned into the rock star on stage. I just started doing them cuz I’m that guy I guess. And, Richard (Speight Jr) and Matt (Cohen) always pumped me up to do it and it became a thing. And, then I think for safety reasons everyone decided it was not a good idea to be doing so we stopped. But, I love the stage dive and the fans love it too.
MV: Yeah, you get a really close connection with your fans. (laughs)
Chad: (laughs) I like to give them an experience. I like to go to these things and make sure they remember it.
MV: You have a ton of projects coming out this year, but first let’s talk about your recent guest appearance on Ghost Adventures. What was your fear level on hunting actual ghosts compared to say a scripted one when you can control the situation?
Chad: Incomparable, really, because with Ghost Adventures it was just real. Like to me it’s such a rush because it’s something that we can’t explain. I’ve seen ghosts over my life, I’ve had a lot of experiences. I’m a huge fan of this show. I contacted Zak (Bagans) and told him how passionate I was about ghosts and that I love their show. We became buddies, and I became buddies with Aaron (Goodwin) as well. About a year later they had me at Linda Vista. Man, it was one of the best nights of my life. I mean it was, you know, the talking to these spirits through the spirit box, unreal. And, getting scratched. It really raises questions within yourself and I think that’s why I love that stuff. I love it. It was cool that they had me on. It was a dream come true.
MV: Even with being scratched is your adrenaline going so hard that it’s really not that scary, but more exciting?
Chad: Yeah. I was never scared. I was more like anxious all day. I was just nervous and anxious. But, these guys are such pros, and I was diving in doors. I was just so amped. I wasn’t scared. I was so excited and when my name got called out it makes you just question “OK, what was that? Who was that? Why did they say my name?” And yeah when I got scratched my adrenaline was going so much in that moment, and so many things were happening around us, and my energy was shifting, and I started shaking. I didn’t feel the scratch until three days later. My adrenaline was up so high. And, then when I felt the scratch it was unlike a human scratch. It was very hot and it stung. It kind of radiated off the body. It was a very interesting experience.
MV: Are you going back again?
Chad: Well, man, I would hope so. I would hope so at some point. I have actually become good friends with the guys. I can’t say enough about that show. It’s a rush like no other. I mean you get touched or you see something. It’s fascinating.
MV: How did you first come up with Sven the uncool vampire blogger for Funny or Die, and will he be returning this Halloween?
Chad: I came up with Sven about three years ago. I was watching vampires on TV and I was like all these vampires are sexy and hot. There’s no dorky ones. Like what if there was a dorky vampire who had a lisp? I don’t know, I just had a voice inside of me going off so I put on the glasses and I got in front of the computer. Then I just did a little blog, and people really started to take on to him, and I really started to take on to him. I found Sven endearing. And, so many things came out of me on Sven that I kinda surprise myself sometimes (laughs). He’s so much fun. People really responded to him so we kept making videos. Twelve minute, half hour videos, and sort of making these elaborate stories. He’s a lot of fun. I am hoping to bring him back this Halloween. I’m hoping to. If not Halloween he’ll be soon. There are things that I’m working on for him because he’s got to be out there. And, eventually I’d like to make him a web series if I could. Because I think people would watch.
MV: Do you think Sven would be a fan of any other particular uncool vampires like in Once Bitten, A Polish Vampire in Burbank, or Dracula: Dead and Loving It?
Chad: He might take sympathy with some of the other dorky vampires. But, he’s a closet Twilight fan. He pretends like he’s not going to go see it, but he’s first in line. He’s already bought his ticket. He’s got this weird sort of secret man crush on Robert Pattinson I think (laughs).
MV: (laughs) Your SyFy movie Dead Walking will air in October just in time for Halloween. What can you tell us about your character Kyle?
Chad: Kyle is just an every-guy, he’s a simple guy, he’s a good guy. I kick a lot of zombie ass, or Kyle kicks a lot of zombie ass. A guy who never was a hero but kinda has turned into a hero. I had a lot of fun making that movie.
MV: Do you think you would actually survive a zombie outbreak now that you’ve had some training?
Chad: I do! I do. I have this sort of thing I do, just in general, like I’m gonna make it through no matter what. So, yeah, I’m definitely surviving (laughs).
MV: What would your weapon of choice be?
Chad: I might go with a crossbow and arrow. But, I’d definitely have a gun tucked in too.
MV: Lots of ammo.
Chad: Exactly. I’d be stocked.
MV: Alex Cross reunites you with The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen. What was it like working together again after all of these years?
Chad: It was so awesome! It was so awesome seeing Rob. I mean he gave me such a special movie something that, you know, Fast and the Furious was a phenomenon in its own way. I never expected it. I didn’t know what I had when I was doing it. That movie changed my life. Rob gave me that. That’s awesome! Awesome. Ten years later I got to be in one of his movies again. Seeing him was great, and I’m hoping we get to work together again and again cuz he’s a sweet man. It was awesome!
MV: What kind of character did he give you this time with Vincent?
Chad: I play a scientist who makes a lot of bad things (laughs). Doesn’t put his science to better use.
MV: I’m excited to see that one.
Chad: I am too. Cool cast. Matthew Fox and Tyler Perry.
MV: It’s going to be interesting to see Tyler Perry in that role.
Chad: Yeah, people are excited to see him in it, so different than his Madea movies. That’s cool. I’m excited to see it.
MV: Matthew Fox too, he’s kind of breaking the mold and going on the bad side.
Chad: Yeah. He’s one of my favorites I got to admit. I loved him in LOST. LOST is one of my favorite shows of all time. And, he was awesome on it. So I got to do a little-little something with him on set, and that was a big thrill for me. He plays an intense character (laughs) in this movie so that was a cool moment.
MV: Steven Monroe cast you as a detective in his action thriller MoniKa. Was this something that you auditioned for, or was this a favor that he owed you for putting you through the ringer on I Spit on Your Grave?
Chad: (laughs) This was ‘hey do you want to come work with me again?’. Steven is one of my favorite directors that I’ve ever worked with. I Spit on Your Grave was an experience that, man, I don’t think I’ve ever reached on any film. Creatively it just knocks things out of the park for me. Steven allowed that to happen, and gave us the platform for that to happen. So to work with Steven again because I trust him so much because of what we did. It was so twisted, and demented, and f*cked in every possible way that you sort of bond. Even over that. I did with all of the actors. All of us did. To go to work with Steven at anytime is going to be cool.
MV: He took you to some pretty dark places, and I think that brings people closer together than even humor sometimes.
Chad: I’m telling you that especially in the torture and rape scenes there were moments when we’d all, actually we weren’t acting, we were looking at each other and viscerally reacting to what was going on. I’ve never felt that in a film, and we were getting high from the work. And, being surprised. So many things were coming at us. We were reacting to crazy material that we were doing. We were tripping. Probably my favorite filming experience that I’ve done.
MV: Your film Decoding Annie Parker also deals with a heavy subject matter, cancer, but it uses undertones of humor. Why do you think comedy and tragedy so often go hand in hand?
Chad: It’s life. I don’t know why. Because life is weird, and it’s funny at the same time, and it’s tragic, and it’s sad. Sometimes it’s so sad and ridiculous that you’ve got to laugh. Sometimes things are so ridiculous that you have to go “alright, I don’t know”. People need to laugh or find humor in those dark times to get them through I think.
MV: When you were on the set was there a lot of humor?
Chad: Yes. When I was on set during my part, the day that I was there, there was humor. And, what I was doing … (laughs) I’m very excited to see this movie. My character is a funny character.
MV: Can you share anything about your Castle episode “Secret’s Safe with Me” that you filmed this summer?
Chad: They announced online that I was a small time crook. I had a lot of fun working on that with Seamus (Dever) and Jon (Huertas). They are buddies of mine that I’ve known from working together in the past. So that’s always cool when you get to go work with friends. And it’s a big, awesome, cool, show. So, I’m stoked.
MV: You guest starred on Weeds last month as Detective Tipton. He had the most hysterical entrance into a crime scene that I think I’ve ever seen. Is it somewhat refreshing to finally be on the other side of the law, or do you enjoy playing criminals?
Chad: (laughs) I love playing cops too. I’ve played many a few. I played one on Sarah Connor Chronicles, one in MoniKa, and Detective Tipton. My dad’s a police officer actually. So anytime I get to go to the other side of the law and play a cop it’s always near and dear to my heart. It is refreshing to shave the beard and not be the weird trippy guy for once.
MV: Has your dad ever taken you on a ride-along?
Chad: Oh, all the time. I’ve been riding with my dad for years and years. It’s one of my most favorite things to do. I’ve seen it all go down with him and his fellow cops. It’s so cool.
MV: What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever witnessed on a ride-along?
Chad: One time we were going to pull a guy over, and the guy took off in the car, and we chased him. He puts the sirens on, gets all serious, buckles down, and we go after this guy. We’ve got the lights on, this guy is dodging through neighborhoods, he crashed his car, and took off running. They didn’t catch him. But, the guy was such an idiot that he came back like forty-five minutes later looking for his car. He thought everybody would be gone. They ended up arresting him. My dad had a sense about him so he pulled him out of the car and he was the same guy. But, that was cool. It was a chase, that was pretty exciting. But, I’ve seen him get in fights. I mean, but he’s such a good cop that I don’t worry about him. You know?
MV: Well now we know where you got your love for adrenaline from.
Chad: Yeah. Definitely. He was an undercover policeman for many years. There was a newspaper article written on him years ago about how he went undercover. He had a beard and he’d wear an eye patch. I mean, that’s acting. He had to go into real life situations and act on his life. That’s intense. I act for fun. He’s come into some pretty hairy situations that I don’t know what I would do in those situations. I’m not built like that. I thought I wanted to be a cop when I was younger like my dad, because I do love that adrenaline thing, but it’s just not me. So I have respect for police offers and a love for them. We need them. We absolutely need them. So that was pretty cool. He has a lot of stories. He’d pierce his ears, the whole nine yards, go all out.
MV: Were you able to watch him as a kid when he was undercover? Is that what made you want to get into acting?
Chad: He’d come home with stories. I always just loved getting on stage and making home movies as a kid. I think over time I just realized ‘OK, that this is something I might be good at’, especially in high school when I started doing plays and discovered ‘OK, that this might be my thing’. I started doing it from there.
MV: One last question, you’ve worked with zombies, vampires, and ghosts. What’s something ordinary that scares you which people might be surprised to find out about?
Chad: Heights. My legs start to shake. I don’t know. I can’t walk to the edge of something. My knees start to buckle. I can’t do heights. I don’t like spiders or snakes. I can’t do big tarantulas. Or, you know? Yeah (laughs).
MV: (laughs) Thank you very much for chatting with Movie Vine, Chad. We appreciate it.
Chad: Of course. Thank you.