The opportunity to speak with Christopher Gorham arrived extremely quickly, as we were caught off guard by the Insatiable season 2 announcement. “They keep that stuff pretty close to the vest”, chimes in Gorham. In addition, we somehow managed to arrange an interview with a single day’s notice, but boy are we glad that we put it together. Not only did Gorham wax eloquently about the series, he also spoke about the experience of filming what is sure to be a standout scene from season 2 of the series about a lawyer-turned-beauty pageant coach and his sassy Southern daughter, created by Lauren Gussis. Be sure to read until the end of this interview where he also surprised Brief Take with an exclusive announcement about his charitable efforts.
The following is an edited and condensed version of our interview with the delightful Christopher Gorham of Insatiable.
Brief Take: Congrats on the series! When we spoke with Irene Choi last season, she spoke about your Dirty Dancing dance sequence. What was filming it like?
CG: We film in Atlanta, and all of us live in Los Angeles, except for Dallas (Roberts) who lives in New York, and often, cast members will stick around to watch one crazy scene or another because it’s so much fun. [laughs]
BT: You go way back with Alyssa Milano.
CG: Yeah, Alyssa and I go back. We first met on a film called My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, and then stayed in touch over the years and then found ourselves working together again, which was such a nice surprise! And there’s been a couple of directors with whom I’ve worked before, but the rest of the cast, and, I’m trying to make sure that this true and I believe that it is, the rest of the cast is all new to me on this show.
BT: What do you like about working with Dallas Roberts as well as series lead Debby Ryan?
CG: Well, I’ll tell you what – they’re nice people first of all. They’re kind, caring human beings. Starting there makes everything else easier, when you don’t have to navigate ego, you can come in and make a great show, or on the granular level, make a great scene. And they all do that. Dallas is a fantastic actor and I think grossly overlooked during awards season for the work that he’s doing on our show. He’s so wonderful.
And Debby is carrying this heavy load as the young actress, and doing such a fantastic job. She’s so talented and kind and the thing that I love most about her is how open she is to learning. Every day she’s working on getting better. She has such a big following, she’s famous from her days on Jessie and her Disney shows, and I think that sometimes some young performers get trapped there. But she’s really smart and talented and creative and curious. Our first conversation went quickly into directing, because when we were shooting the pilot, I was finishing up shooting my film We Love You, Sally Carmichael! and she was telling me how she hopes to move into directing at some point. She’s really smart and kind and sweet.
With those two at the top of the call sheet and setting the tone, it makes the job easy.
BT: What’s it like filming the series away from home? Does your family visit you there?
CG: Particularly in only doing 10 episodes, it goes by pretty quickly and it’s more similar to the experience of shooting a film. You’re on location, so you’re away from your family for the most part, and for me, my kids are all in school, so I do the traveling, I fly home as much as possible. But you become like a pseudo-family: you’re working very close together for long hours, and when it’s over, everybody goes off to the wind and back to their normal lives. We all keep our fingers crossed that we get to come back again and do it next year.
BT: What about when you got the call to come back?
CG: It’s just joyful! We all love the show and we all love our characters and we all love working together. We have so much respect for Lauren (Gussis), and Andy Fleming, our executive producing director, and entire creative team down there, our set designer and our hair and makeup folks, and our electricians and grips and our whole crew. It was surprising in how funny our schedule was – it was a full thirteen months between season 1 and 2 when we were filming, so it was a long time, but almost all of our camera crew was back. It was joyful to get back together and to keep telling these wacky, fun stories.
BT: How easily do you slip back into being Bob?
CG: At this point, it’s a well-worn group, so once you drop in there, it’s not hard. I like to describe him as a ‘human peacock’. You have to lean into your ego and let your ego overtake everything. [laughs] It’s gotten easy to drop in and to be Bob Barnard, and it’s so much fun. Never in life are you allowed to think about yourself anywhere close to near as much as Bob Barnard thinks about himself [laughs] and it’s fun to collaborate with the writers and directors when something comes up and if there’s a joke…I can’t tell you what it is, but there’s a joke [laughs] late in the season, that’s like a physical thing, that literally one of the set dressers ideas. Like a set dresser puts a bag over “this thing”, that we’ll see eventually, I can tell you, it’s a Wiener Taco bag that goes on top of….something, about what, I can’t tell you, and so when we came on set for rehearsal, this Wiener Taco bag was over “this thing” and I started cracking up and I went over to the writer, I think it was Lauren, and I was like “Oh my God, can I say this…?” And I ad-libbed a line that was so freaking funny, of which I never would have thought had the set dresser not thought it was funny to put this bag over this thing.
BT: What did you enjoy about the response to the series?
CG: Well, I’ll tell you what, we loved what we had made in season 1 of Insatiable. We felt like we had done something special, like there was nothing like this show on television. And there are a lot of them, there are a lot of television shows to choose from.[laughs] Being able to say that there’s honestly nothing else like this, I mean, everybody does say that, but it’s very rarely true, like in this case, there’s nothing else like this. The closest thing that you might compare it to was Ryan Murphy’s show Popular back in the day, although this takes it six steps further than that show was ever allowed to go. We were excited with the fan reaction to the show, which was overwhelmingly positive, the fans of this show really got what we were trying to do and it makes it all worthwhile. It’s a similar feeling this year going into season 2. We’re all really excited for the world to see what we made and I [chuckles] hope that they love it as much as we do.
BT: What’s coming up this season?
CG: It just gets crazier. [laughs] It just gets crazier. I feel like it’s only at the end of season 1 that you start to realize what the show is actually going to be. And I think that a big chunk of our audience may…it gets crazier, the body count gets higher. I can’t really tell you much, other than that, other than I would expect more.
BT: How much do you enjoy being on Netflix?
CG: We’re so grateful that we’re on Netflix because I don’t know if the show could exist as it is anywhere else. It’s fun, it’s campy, it’s bright, and I think that on any other network…I don’t think that any other network would have been as brave as Netflix would be to allow this show to be what it is and to be what Lauren Gussis wanted it to be. We are very grateful.
BT: Tell me about filming Covert Affairs in Toronto.
CG: I love Toronto! I used to live right across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park, which I miss, all of those restaurants over on Ossington and so much great food in Toronto. And we had such a great crew, led by our fantastic D.P. Colin Hault, who is still up there working, heaps of folks who [raises voice] I miss!!! I’ve got right now, one of our directors from Insatiable, Brian Dannelly, is up there right now shooting In The Dark, and Karen Perez is his Locations Manager, who was our Locations Manager on Covert Affairs. I’m very jealous of Brian.
BT: What have been some of the key projects along the way?
CG: Well Popular was my first TV show and that was one of my first times that I was able to work as an actor full-time, that was one of them, and it became such a cult hit, even after two seasons. Launching Ryan (Murphy), that was the beginning of his career, he’s gone on to do one or two wonderful things since then, and my next show, Odyssey 5, introduced me to Toronto. I am forever grateful for it. After that, was Jake 2.0, which was my first time as a star of a show, which was a fantastic experience, another Canadian location. We shot that one in Vancouver, we did the pilot in Toronto, but then we did the series in Vancouver.
Then, what else? Out of Practice was Chris Lloyd and Joe Keenan coming off of Frasier, wrote this amazingly smart, funny sitcom in which I was working with Henry Winkler, Stockard Channing, Ty Burrell, Paula Marshall and Jennifer Tilly, every week. It was wonderful. And then Ugly Betty was the big media darling show that I did that was a turning point for me. It was the first time that people found out that I was actually in shape. [laughs] In fact, Ugly Betty may have been the show that ruined my life because I have to exercise like a madman for every job that I get now and it’s exhausting.
BT: Henry and Betty were the One True Pairing and the series probably taught you the word “shipping”.
CG: I think that it’s funny, because the production moving to New York was the thing that broke up Betty and Henry. [laughs]
BT: You were in one of my favourite shows, The Magicians.
CG: The Magicians was great, not because I’m just a fan of the show, but because Sera Gamble was a theatre major at UCLA with my wife and me, that was a nice reunion. And Henry Alonso Myers is one of the executive producers, the showrunner over there at The Magicians, he was a writer on Covert Affairs. It was lots of fun there. There’s been wonderful things on every production on which I’ve been, I’ve been blessed.
BT: Do you find that you work with political people by design or by coincidence?
CG: When you’re talking about films and television shows, you’re talking about art and art is by its very nature political. There’s no way to divorce those two things, and certainly the best art always has something to say. I think that this business attracts the type of people that have something to say and want to express it. In that sense, the entertainment business is filled with like-minded people, not that we all share the same opinions but that we all believe in the importance of sharing those stories.
BT: Your series is like frontier television.
CG: Yeah! And Insatiable is like the first show in which I am a Dad, so it feels like it’s been a new beginning in my acting career. I feel like it’s a good omen that the show very much reminds me of Popular.
BT: You’re a Daddy now as well as a Dad.
CG: (Laughs) Yes, yes, I saw that.
BT: Are you fine with being a meme and a GIF?
CG: It’s fine, it doesn’t affect my life. The only person that it really affects is my 15-year-old, because [laughs] everyone at his high school is aware, but he’s handling it well.
BT: Can you tell me about a little about your charity work?
CG: I’m going to announce it soon, I haven’t really officially announced it yet – I am going to be running the New York City marathon this year to benefit Kulture City, of which is a non-profit that Anel, my wife, and I have joined the board. The training that they do is wonderful. They are doing wonderful work and I am going to be running the marathon for them and we are going to try to raise $25k for Kulture City to try to purchase a Sensory Activation Vehicle (S.A.V.E.) in California, which is kind of like a portable sensory room that can be taken to public events, providing sensory refuge for people with sensory needs. And I’ve started filming all of my training and putting it up on YouTube.
I’ve never been a runner, this has been quite an adventure. As we are talking, I am heating my knees and icing my foot. I am a mess right now. [laughs] It’s going to be interesting! [laughs]
To donate to Christopher’s fundraising for Kulture City, please click here: https://secure.givelively.org/donate/kulturecity/christopher-gorham-runs-nyc
Insatiable seasons 1 and 2 are currently streaming on Netflix