Chris Wood Talks 'Containment' Premiere for JJ Portrait Session!
The 28-year-old actor, best known for his work on The Carrie Diaries and The Vampire Diaries, is starring on the new CW series Containment, premiering on Tuesday night (April 19) at 9/8c.
In the series, a mysterious and deadly epidemic breaks out in Atlanta and a vast urban quarantine is quickly enforced, forcing those stuck on the inside to fight for their lives while local and federal officials desperately search for a cure. Chris plays the role of Jake, a police officer who is trapped within the cordoned area with his best friend’s girlfriend Jana.
Chris opens up to us in our exclusive interview about bulking up for the role, what his contingency plan would be if a virus outbreak actually happened, his start in musical theater, and why he has a shirtless photo of Paul Wesley saved on his phone.
Click inside to read our full interview with Chris Wood…
Chris Wood Interview – JustJared.com Exclusive
Just Jared: You slimmed down for Vampire Diaries, and now you had to bulk up for this role. What was that process like?
Chris Wood: My training was a lot of real military training and the kind of exercises that SWAT officers do. I had a conversation for the pilot with [director/producer] David Nutter and with [producer/writer] Julie Plec, and we all agreed that a little more size was going to help for the character. It came up to about thirty pounds that I put on for the show. It was a lot of eating and a lot of exercising.
JJ: What were your go to foods for calories and weight gain?
CW: [Protein] shakes were sort of key because it was too hard to get that many calories in a day, so having that coconut oil and you can throw avocado in there, veggies, and just sort of packing it with nutrients. And then obviously a lot of organic, grass fed meats and chicken.
JJ: Did you cook yourself or did you eat out a lot?
CW: Yeah, I made a lot of my own food. Just ’cause it’s too hard to know what you’re getting when you go out. But in LA it’s pretty easy. In Atlanta it was a little harder because you go out and the restaurants serve like fried chicken.
JJ: Your character Jake is a little rough around the edges. What are his best and worst qualities?
CW: His best qualities are good self-awareness and he’s very honorable, and true to those who he’s very close to. And his worst qualities are probably his bad temper and he’s a bit selfish. At least when we meet him, he’s a little self-centered.
JJ: He didn’t want to be a hero, he was just sort of thrust into it. Why is he so adverse to the idea?
CW: I think he, through whatever he’s experienced in his life leading up to when we meet him, he sort of just doesn’t want responsibility. He’s more comfortable in a following position. His best friend Lex is more of a leader, and that’s more what he’s good at. And Jake is someone who would rather be given a regimen and told how to accomplish something, and then go do the best that he can with it. So when he’s trapped inside and given every bit of leadership inside the Cordon, he just doesn’t want that. At all. He wants to also focus on himself and staying alive.
JJ: Does he blame Lex for the situation?
CW: Yeah. It’s very upsetting to Jake that he ended up inside the Cordon when he’s a police officer. He sort of feels as if in some way his buddy betrayed him by letting him be in a location he was going to be stuck inside. And the fact that he’s still in there, it just pisses him off.
JJ: And Jake used to date Lex’s girlfriend, Jana. How does that complicate their friendship?
CW: It’s not the kind of thing that they really think about that often. They got pretty comfortable after it happened because when Jake and Jana dated, they still remained friends and close. And it wasn’t a long thing, it was more of a short fling. When two guys dated the same girl, maybe a casual bar conversation where Lex was like, “Hey, I think I’m going to date Jana.” And Jake was just like, “Okay.” But, there might be some unspoken tension that they didn’t actually address.
JJ: How would you describe the trio’s dynamic?
CW: They’re all friends. There’s sort of a family quality in there ’cause Lex and Jake are like brothers. And Lex and Jana are supposed to be moving in together when the show begins, and their relationship is really close. And Jana and Jake have become more like family in a way as opposed to ex lovers. More like estranged siblings who have reconnected, is more their vibe.
JJ: Jake and Katie have a spark but a life and death sort of situation. What draws them together and what do you think they see in each other?
CW: When they first meet, there’s an attraction that defies all logic. They’re stuck, they need to focus on staying alive. She’s got her son inside. He’s trying to find a way to get out and also to stay in contact with Lex so he can keep getting ammo and supplies. So there’s no part of the circumstances that makes sense for romance. There’s no real intelligent reason why they click. He’s sort of pissy with her at first and not the nicest, he’s a little rude. And then later, after he’s helped her out a bit, you can see they get each other.
JJ: Have you ever thought of a contingency plan or what you would do if an outbreak really did happen?
CW: Yeah, of course. The show sort of turns all of us into germophobes because we’re constantly thinking about, “Okay, my hands could have this and be infected by that.” So, living in that world as an actor, you carry parts of that onto an airplane and when someone sneezes, you realize you’re confined. I think supplies and weapons, like just a baseball bat or a gun, or things to protect yourself, and somewhere with a large amount of food and water where you could completely block everyone off and no one could get to you. I don’t know where that would be. Maybe get a whole collection of people and raid a Costco. Go into a lock down, and then you have everything you need.
JJ: Do you have a favorite memory from on or off set?
CW: Our entire cast is very close and we all get along really well. Every weekend we would have either drinks, or a cast dinner. The sort of family element of the show kicked in pretty quickly with us, which is awesome. There was a weekend when we all went to Piedmont Park for the afternoon. We were there for seven hours and just hung out.
JJ: Where did you grow up and how did you get into acting?
CW: I grew up in Columbus, Ohio. I was four or five and I saw my sister in a production of Annie. She was one of the orphans and I was like, “I think I want to do that.” Probably a competitive thing. And I saw my older sister doing it so I felt like I needed to do it. So I told my parents and they let me go audition for Oliver. Then [the casting directors] said “Bring him back when he’s a little bit older.” And I went back, and I ended up doing a couple plays when I was six and seven. Just really small, family theater stuff. That got me hooked on pretending to be someone else. And also the feeling of live performance in front of people, making something that everyone got to see and respond to instantly. Then my uncle gave me his old 8mm camera, which was a massive piece of equipment compared to the stuff we have now. I made endless movies at home. I would set up the camera and play two different characters, and turn and have to change. ‘Cause it was all live, I didn’t edit. I just had to shoot it, press pause, change my clothes and go set up the camera. Do the next line. It took forever.
JJ: What’s another theater memory of yours?
CW: My favorite memory in high school was playing George in Of Mice and Men. That John Steinbeck was like this ‘way too mature for me’ role that is of a totally different generation, and just a ton of dialogue. It was this massive responsibility but I loved that challenge and excitement of getting to go home and work on that and not do my homework. Instead, learn my lines for the show. Then I went to school and studied acting at Elon University in North Carolina. Left there and went to New York and did some theater stuff, and went on tour. I did Spring Awakening. And then I made the switch into film in New York as I was sort of doing both, and I realized that was really where my heart was.
JJ: What was the first film project?
CW: The first thing I did was a pilot for Amazon, called Browsers. And then I did Girls after that. I sort of started getting more consistent guest [work]. Then I did Carrie Diaries, which was my first big recurring gig. And then it sort of happened. It took a couple years of turning down the theater stuff, that was starting to focus on what I wanted to do. It’s a totally different set of casting directors and different people.
JJ: Speaking of Carrie Diaries, do you keep in touch with anyone from that cast?
CW: Yeah. I talk to AnnaSophia [Robb] every now and again. We’ll text and say hi and I’m still good buddies with Jake Robinson. It’s hard because they’re mostly in New York and now Austin Butler‘s on a different show. He’s a good guy. It’s hard schedule-wise, and I’ve been in Atlanta now for like two years. Basically a stray it feels like. (laughs) Freema [Agyeman] I know, and she’s friends with David Gyasi, who plays Lex on Containment. So we have a connection.
JJ: What was your favorite memory from filming that show?
CW: AnnaSophia and I had a great time working together. She’s super relaxed and just a good actress, works very hard, and is very real. And it was maybe the only role that I’ve done that was a bit like me. Kai and Jake, my other two bigger roles, just handle things differently than I do. Kai is a nut job but it was nice to get to play something that was sort of closer to myself. It was a cute show and very fun to shoot on the streets of New York, stopping traffic to shoot. That’s the best.
JJ: Back to how you got into acting, how did you end up in LA?
CW: After my first pilot ended, I made a tape from New York and sent it to LA. And I flew out here for the test, and then I flew back to New York. Found out I got it like right when I got back, then flew back the next day to shoot it. So that was my first time staying in LA for more than a couple days. I was here for a month shooting that, and then I was in New York and I went on tape again for Major Crimes, where I dyed my hair blonde and played a serial killer. I flew out to LA for that. And I was out here, and the head of that show, James Duff, who is an amazing friend and mentor, said, “Hey, you need to just move out here.”
JJ: TVD fans wanted your character to hook up with Kat Graham’s character, was that something you ever wanted to see happen?
CW: (laughs) This is a very touchy subject with the fans probably because I know him better than anybody. As Chris, I wouldn’t wish anyone that I was fond of to date him, because he’s crazy, and he’s unstable. And he’s done a lot of bad things that suggest that he’s going to continue to do bad things. So anyone that I’m remotely fond of, I wouldn’t want to date him. So, the fact that it’s Kat, and the fact that it’s her character Bonnie, I don’t know. I wouldn’t wish that on her but I can see why the fans were so passionate about it. There was something fun about a redemption story and it wasn’t his. A lot of times it does happen on Vampire Diaries, where someone so evil becomes a hero, and a love interest for that matter. I guess that wasn’t his trajectory.
JJ: Is shirtless Paul Wesley still the picture when he calls your phone?
CW: (laughs) Yes!
JJ: Can you tell us something about Paul that most people don’t know?
CW: He’s a really chill guy, one of the most self-aware people that I know. If he’s being an ass, he goes “Yeah, I’m grumpy and I’m being an ass.” He knows that. Or, “Yeah I want to go do this,” he’s open to say that and being very clear, which is a super respectable quality. That’s probably why he and I are close. But I remember we were in Paris doing convention stuff and our group got kind of hounded out, and fans found where we were going to dinner. When we left, there was a mass of people and we ended up having to dive into cabs. He just kept walking. Ian [Somerhalder], Nikki [Reed], Phoebe [Tonkin], me, and a whole group of us. It was chaos. And he was just like, “Nope, I’m good.” It was like Moses parting the sea. He just kind of walked. It was pretty great.
JJ: It’s a little known fact that you can sing, you’ve had some training. Is there a music career down the line for you? Do you record music on your own?
CW: I write but pretty selfishly for me. It’s something that I do to release and find comfort. I’m actually pretty shy when it comes to music. I’m better at, like on tour, playing the Pantages in front of however many thousand people. I’m better at that than like if there’s six of us in a room and someone hands me a guitar. I’m like petrified. I’ll sweat and get nervous.
JJ: Do you play guitar and any other instruments?
CW: I play drums and some piano, and a bunch of random, weird instruments. But yeah, guitar is sort of my go-to. It’s more of a comfort and a private time kind of thing for me at the moment. But who knows.
JJ: How would you describe the kind of music that you make?
CW:It’s a little Mumford & Sons-y meets The National, meets James Taylor. And also, I would like to say that I am in no way saying that it meets that caliber. I’m saying that sometimes it probably tries to sound like a small puppy version of that.
PHOTO SHOOT CREDITS (PICTURES BELOW) —–
Photos 1 and 4: Ann Demuelemeester jacket, coat, and trousers, Rochambeau top, A Diciannoveventitre shoes
Photo 2: Stephen F. suit, Simon Miller t-shirt
Photo 3: Rochambeau top and shorts, O.X.S. Rubber Sole shoes
Producer/Interview: Jared Eng (@JaredEng)
Photographer: Justin Campbell (@JustinCampPhoto)
Stylist: Avo Yermagyan (@avoyermagyan)
Grooming: Dusty Starks for TheOnly.Agency using Tom Ford for Men Skincare and Grooming Collection (@dustystarks)