If you were a kid back when High School Musical was all anyone could talk about (like myself), then you probably recognize Chris Warren as Zeke, the basketball player who had a secret passion for baking. Since then, he’s gone on to have a successful acting career, having guest roles on shows like The Fosters. Now, he can be seen as Jason Parker on ABC’s newest drama, Grand Hotel.
I got the chance to talk to Chris about the influence his parents had on his acting career early on, his audition process for Grand Hotel, what Jason is up to for the rest of the season and much more! Keep reading to see what he had to say!
Tell me first a little bit about how you got into acting originally.
Both my parents are actors and they moved out here from Indiana with me. I kind of just followed in their footsteps. They’d come home from acting class or doing plays and stuff and I kind of just did what they did. The next thing I know, 20/30 years later and I’m still doing it. I kind of was just blessed to be born into an acting family.
So would you credit your parents with helping you decide that acting is something you wanted to do for a living and making you realize that it wasn’t just something you enjoyed tagging along with them for?
Yeah, I think I definitely would give them the credit for even opening me up to that world, for me to be able to see it from such an early age. Then, as you get older, you kind of have to decide for yourself if this is really what you want and what you you know have a passion for. And around probably 12/13, I really kind of had my own awakening and my own decision of like, “Wow, I think I really want to do this forever and make this a career.”
Over the years, you’ve had a lot of different roles on a lot of different mediums. Do you have a personal acting “bucket list” of things you still want to try out in your career? If so, what are some of the things on that list?
Wow, that’s a great question. One thing on my bucket list is I would love to do an action movie. I think that would be really fun, doing some cool stunts and some cool fighting stuff. I would love that. I would also love to do some really dramatic film, something really dark. I really enjoy stuff that’s dark and dramatic and I would really love to sink my teeth into something like that as well.
So speaking of things that are dramatic, let’s talk about Grand Hotel. What did you first think of this project when you read this script and what was your audition process like?
When I first read the script, I really liked the Miami backdrop. I really liked how multicultural it was. I think it was really a great representation of how Miami really is. I loved that Eva [Longoria, who stars in the show as well as executive produces it] was attached and [that] the story was just so captivating.
As far as my audition process is concerned, it was during pilot season and I had a bunch of different things coming in all the time. When I got it, seeing that it’s ABC, seeing that it’s Eva and Brian Tanen, I was like, “Wow this is kind of a homerun.”
But it’s one of those things where you become a bit jaded after you go to so many auditions. I was leaving with my wife to go to London the day that I had the audition, so I was like, “Alright. Let me go do this audition and then we’ll go and it’ll be just another thing where you just never hear anything.” And while I was in London, I found out I had a screen test. So I flew back and I’m all sick and jet lagged. The next day, I had my screen test and then I found out I booked it two days later. So it really goes to show in this business how quickly things can change; it literally was a week and a half that I went from auditions in pilot season to being on this ABC show. So this business is very interesting [laughs].
The series is loosely based on the Spanish series, Gran Hotel. Did you see the original series or was it something where they were like, “Well it’s similar but not really, so you don’t really need to watch it?”
It was that, very much, where they said that it was similar. But before the pilot, I didn’t want to see it, just because I wanted to bring my own interpretation of what this character would be. I didn’t want to get stuck in anything in case I saw something in the original with how the original guy played it. But then once the pilot was done and we got picked up, I went and I watched it just because I felt like I should be familiar with the source material and just kind of be familiar with what the producers were trying to do. It was cool actually catching up and watching it, especially because we had already done the pilot and I was like, “Oh this person is this person and this person is that person.” So I’m excited for everyone to see the American version.
Yeah. On the show, you play Jason and I know a lot of actors bring a little bit of themselves to the characters they play. So in what ways do you think you’re similar to Jason and in what ways do you think you’re different from Jason?
I think the way that I’m similar to Jason is we’re both hard workers. I think we both are very loyal and we have really big hearts.
I think one way that we’re different is I think Jason is maybe a little bit too nice. I think that he can be a bit of a pushover sometimes and I don’t think I would fall into that category. I think [another] difference between the two of us is I feel like he just doesn’t take the action. We’re still waiting for him – and as the season progresses maybe some things will change; we’ll see – but he just doesn’t take the action and he doesn’t make that move, whether it’s with Ingrid, whether it’s with the way that he deals with certain things at the hotel. So I try to not be that way in my regular life. I try to be very proactive. But as the story progresses, maybe Jason will change up a little bit.
Speaking of Ingrid, it’s been pretty obvious since the pilot that Jason is very much into her. But he still has no idea about her pregnancy or the fact that she is tricking Javi into thinking the baby is his. What can we expect from the Jason/Ingrid dynamic and relationship moving forward?
Oh, that dynamic definitely gets very juicy to say the least. A lot of things happen and a lot of things come to light and [Jason] and Ingrid become a lot closer. That’s, I think, one of the big mysteries of the season is if that will ever happen. You have to keep watching and see, I guess.
At the end of episode two, Jason was the first person to discover Danny’s real identity and slowly, they’re starting to build a friendship. How are we going to see that friendship evolve as the season goes on?
I really love the dynamic with me and Lincoln [Younes, who plays Danny] because as the season progresses, that relationship really blossoms because we really dig deep into the investigation with what happened to Sky. So a lot of my stuff is with him in that regard where we’re trying to figure that out. So to answer your question, especially in the upcoming episodes, we really dive deep into all of those questions and we find answers.
That’s awesome! I’m excited to see it! Is there an upcoming episode that you’re most excited for fans to see? And which one is it and why?
Oh, there’s a few. As the season progresses, I really like the direction my character goes and I like some of the some of the changes that he makes. I’m excited for everyone to see that, in regards to the story and some other things we find out. And just in regards to his own character development, I like the man that he starts to become.
So last question – our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner-nerd. What is something you are currently nerding out about?
Oh I’m always nerding out about gaming. Always. I’m a huge gamer. So I’m all about any sports game; I play all the sports game. I like all RPGs. I’m a big gaming nerd for sure.
Featured Photo Credit: PHOTOGRAPHY – JSquared; GROOMING – Crystal Tran