The Wire
The Chris Ashworth Interview

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"Read Between The Lines: I Will Take Your Head Off Your Shoulders"
CA: I finished up at a no-name college -- no offense. Someone's going to read this and figure out which one I'm taking about. It was a decent school, and in 1998 I had finished my last year. I had two Associate's degrees and one Bachelor's in Criminal Justice and Criminal Administration, or something like that. I didn't go to my graduation. I slept in and told my mom I wasn't going to go to work that day, and was thinking of not going the next day. It was straight out Office Space. KD: Where were you working? CA: I don't remember. I may have been self-employed. I've had so many jobs. I remember picking up the paper and looking at the classifieds. Then I called this lady at church that I used to know who was a really, really great, gifted singer. She was always involved in plays, and had a big name from doing them -- Lisa Butler. I called and asked where I could get started. She didn't have film or TV experience aside from local commercials, and told me of a few local theaters I could try. I called every one of them that day and it just so happened -- and I still get goose bumps talking about it -- there was this one theater called the Cherry Tree Players, and they were casting The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. I had no experience, not at all -- I still don't have any, really. But the woman on the phone said, "We're having auditions today, and if you'd like you can come down." KD: So you got the part? CA: I played several roles [with them]: a Scandinavian man, a redneck -- let me tell you, me pulling off a southern accent was a stretch [laughs]. She cast me in several roles, and it was great. I sat out on the back steps after practice or a show one night with the lead and we were talking, and she had done so many productions but she had never ventured out, and I said, "Why don't you pursue this? You're so talented." And she said, "I'm happy doing this." I said, "One day, were going to have a conversation and I'll be somewhere else, God willing. I'm going to take it as far as I can." It's ten years later since we had that conversation, and I just ran into her and she remembers that night. But I was twisting and turning and said I think this is what I'm supposed to do -- forget criminal justice. All my family is in law enforcement, and that's where I thought I would end up. Oh, I just remembered this. You'll like this. KD: Okay, let me hear it. CA: A few years before that -- after five years in college, three different schools -- I remember having a conversation with my father at the end of our driveway. I told him I wanted to quit school and go to L.A. and become an actor. I didn't think about this until just now. I did bring up the fact that Brad Pitt was the chicken at a Pollo Loco and ate at a Taco Bell to get through. Now, I don't know how much truth there is to those stories, but I admired what I'd heard. I tried to use that as leverage, but my dad wasn't having it. We didn't argue, but he said, "You need a backup plan." I said, "I only need that if I plan on failing, which I don't." [My parents] were always supportive, but if I were in their shoes, I wouldn't want my kid to go into acting.

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The Wire

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