The Wire
The Chris Ashworth Interview

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"Read Between The Lines: I Will Take Your Head Off Your Shoulders"
I made my first trip to Sundance this year, and all it took was a navigationally impaired cab driver, two cramped flights, a delayed shuttle, and the longest, snowiest, scariest, lost-est van drive of my entire life. By the time I arrived in Park City, all I wanted was to eat dinner, watch TV, and go to bed. While I had to make due, meal-wise, with a 7-11 Burrito and a six-pack, my television diet proved much more satisfying: the latest episode of The Wire , featuring both Avon Barksdale and Sergei Malatov, two welcome callbacks from seasons past. The next day, on a bus to the theater, who should walk on but Sergei himself, Chris Ashworth. Turns out, he's not Ukranian -- not even close. He's just about the sweetest, most mild-mannered Virginian boy you could ever hope to meet. And while he mostly relies on southern charm, he'll resort to Brazilian Jiu-Jitso if things get tough. Chris agreed to sit for an interview, and called me from LA after Sundance ended. As it turns out, my fancy, high-tech recording equipment hadn't picked up any of our conversation, and I had to recreate the interview from my notes. Chris was more than generous about filling in gaps, fact-checking my copy, and, at one point, helping me to ferret out typos. The completed version, minus his very kind and genuine goodbyes, is below. Kate Dailey: You're a relentless self-promoter: your clip reel is on YouTube, you're constantly updating your MySpace page. Do you feel like you're working outside the Hollywood system, and is that working for you? Chris Ashworth: I'm trying to, because believe it or not, I got The Wire on my own. The first good agent I had was 2007, believe it or not. Everything that I had been cast in [before that], including The Wire, was brought about by my own doing. I didn't have representation sending me out. There were no negotiations regarding salary on The Wire because I was hired as a local. I just wanted to work. KD: So how did it happen? CA: I was in Southwest Virginia and they cast out of Baltimore...I guess they were looking for an authentic Russian, even though [Sergei's] Ukrainian. They couldn't find one in L.A. or New York, and the local director in Baltimore, Pat Moran, called me. I had met her a couple of years beforehand. She told me that she'd told HBO that I was really Russian. [laughs] I was like, "What?" I really didn't know how to proceed. I try to be the epitome of southern hospitality and not deceive people, and she said I would get over it, she would get over it, and that's acting. And she was right. So I went and auditioned for that role as a Russian. And let me tell you, Chris Ashworth does not sound Russian whatsoever. ["In fact, Chris Ashworth has a very deep and noticeable southern accent." -- KD]

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The Wire

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