INHUMANELY AWESOME. Chad James Buchanan talks about his passions, his performance in hit TV series “Star” and his upcoming appearance in Marvel’s “Inhumans”
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What does an actor have to do to get noticed in 2017? Starring in a show (a successful one, of course) dealing with a serious social issue is one way. And lately, being cast in a movie or TV show in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has also proven to create a clear path to esteem and bigger roles. Several months ago, actor Chad James Buchanan added the former to his résumé as hit TV series “Star” wrapped up its first season, while now, he’s working on the latter with a role in the upcoming “Inhumans.”
Here, Buchanan shares his journey with both titles along with the passion that drives him with DA MAN.
DA MAN: Hi, Chad; thank you for making the time for us. So, how are you doing?
Chad James Buchanan: Life is absolutely wonderful and I’ve never felt so truly grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given. I feel like there is magic in the air. I’m in a phase of my life where I am learning so much about my craft, myself, and life in general. Things are moving fast and I’m really enjoying each moment along the way.
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DA MAN: So, we’ve just learned that you are joining the cast of Marvel’s “Inhumans.” Can you tell us how this came about?
Chad James Buchanan: There are no shortcuts in this business. This was a three step audition process. First came the cattle-call, then the callback and then there was an additional Marvel direction for the third and final callback. It all happened in a three day time-span. It was like all of the sudden I woke up and found myself in Oahu, Hawaii.
DA MAN: So far, are there any details about the show or about your character that you can share with us? Or maybe you can give us a hint or two?
Chad James Buchanan: For good reasons, Marvel keeps their material in this universe confidential. I’ve never seen so much privacy, and secrecy. I don’t even get the scripts—just my sides! That being said, I have uncovered what’s going on through some of the crew and cast mates, but I am not at liberty to say. You’ll just have to wait and see.
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DA MAN: Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have long hailed the franchise as doing an extremely good job in casting. What, do you think, was it that the studio saw in you when they picked you?
Chad James Buchanan: I’ve put in years and years of hard work to become confident at what I am doing. But at the end of the day, I always walk into an audition room, do my thing, and then put it all behind me. To be honest, I have no idea what they saw in me. But I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of the MCU. The content Marvel has been creating has been of incredible quality and the fans backing the MCU are unparalleled. I feel so grateful to be a part of this special project.
“I’ve witnessed [this kind of] abuse first hand in my own life”
DA MAN: We might be getting ahead of ourselves a bit here, but do you think that being part of the MCU will lead to new opportunities further down the road?
Chad James Buchanan: Certainly! I’ve recently discovered an ease and grace to my work and I think that being involved with this beautiful show will be wondrous for my career. However, I don’t like to speculate. I do my best to live in the moment and to appreciate the now and the journey. I trust that the rest will take care of itself. All that being said, they are really pushing “Inhumans,” with a soon-to-be groundbreaking release of the first two episodes premiering in IMAX theaters across the world. I don’t think that will hurt. [Smiles]
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DA MAN: Within nearly a decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe grew from one movie into a franchise encompassing dozens of titles and God knows how many tie-ins. Some see this as a great thing; others fear that Marvel has spread itself too thin. What is your take on this?
Chad James Buchanan: Marvel has been rolling out one hit after another. There is a brilliant team behind the MCU, in both their television and film departments. I trust that as long as the content continues to be of the utmost quality, with all of the heart and depth among the bravado, the MCU will continue to thrive.
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DA MAN: Before your involvement in the MCU, however, you were known primarily for playing Hunter Morgan in “Star.” And not too long ago, the show ended with a bang—and your character’s death. What was it like closing that chapter of your career?
Chad James Buchanan: Honestly, Hunter’s death on “Star” was one of the most incredible things that ever happened to me. It was quite moving to see the reaction from the crew and cast mates. I received so much love and respect as a sendoff from the show. I knew that my character Hunter Morgan was destined to die from the beginning and Lee Daniel [“Star” co-creator, executive producer, director and writer] gave me a very loving call to break the news. I will forever be grateful to that man for giving me the opportunity to play such a dynamic and tragic character. The most surprising thing of all was the outburst from the fans across social media in regards to my death. I try not to pay too much attention to the media, but I couldn’t help but gasp as the outcries continued to pour in from all over the world. It’s a beautiful thing to be respected for your work.
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DA MAN: You are quite vocal on the issue of domestic violence, which is a central theme of “STAR.” You’ve even pointed out how your character, Hunter, “is an abuser and he’s f***** up.” Where does this passion come from?
Chad James Buchanan: I’ve witnessed this kind of abuse first hand in my own life. It breaks my heart to know that this happens to many women every single day. There is no just means for that kind of behavior ever and I will not tolerate it. “Star” gave me a platform and the resources to make a difference and I used it. I will continue to speak out against domestic violence and advocate women’s rights. I think my deep respect and love for women and all they have to offer come from my mother. She is my hero and one of the most inspiring people I know.
“I do not judge my characters. I am a storyteller. I do not fear anything in the confines of storytelling”
DA MAN: As you mentioned earlier, despite Hunter clearly being a messed up character, it isn’t hard to find viewers who are rooting for him. Why do you think is this so? And do you find this troubling?
Chad James Buchanan: I did my best to add dimension to Hunter and to serve the writing as best as possible. In life, there are no purely “good” or “bad” persons. Hunter is not evil. Hunter didn’t do the things he did because he wants to be a bad person. In fact, he wants to face his demons, and he wants to love and ultimately be happy. He really does, like anyone else, want to find happiness and to find true love. But unfortunately, Hunter never learned how to love and that is the source of his troubles. I feel bad for the guy, really. I pity him. I think people connected to Hunter’s struggles. It doesn’t trouble me that they rooted for him. Fortunately, people were able to see past the monster and see the heart in the character. I think I did my job!
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DA MAN: Did you find it difficult, or in any way challenging, to step into the shoes of a character like Hunter?
Chad James Buchanan: No. I do not judge my characters. I am a storyteller. I do not fear anything in the confines of storytelling. It is not my job to judge. It is only my job to serve the writing, the vision behind the project, and to stay true to, well, the truth.
DA MAN: What do you miss the most about being on “Star”?
Chad James Buchanan: I miss working with Benjamin Bratt. He is a good man and friend. I admire him for his qualities beyond being a movie star. I learned much from him.
DA MAN: So, you’ve just wrapped up a major role in a very profound TV show and you’re now working on another momentous production. What’s going on in your head right now?
Chad James Buchanan: Sometimes there are these euphoric moments in which I become aware that I am living my dream. But at the end of the day I haven’t changed a bit; I’m just feeling so incredibly lucky and grateful.
DA MAN: You’ve been involved in quite a few high profile TV shows before “Star,” such as “Glee” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Based on your experience, what would be your dream project?
Chad James Buchanan: I’m very interested in working with incredible minds. I want to work with smart storytellers who share the same passion for character, story, and truth. I really want to work with some of the great directors of our time and to tell stories that move audiences emotionally. I have my eyes on the big screen.
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DA MAN: In the world of filmmaking, who are the people (your fellow actors, directors, producers, stunt coordinators—anyone, really) who you look up to the most?
Chad James Buchanan: My favorite actor of all time is Paul Newman. I look up to him, not only for the work he did as an actor, but for the man he was off-screen. A few of my favorite directors are Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan.
DA MAN: How about in life in general? Which living person do you most admire?
Chad James Buchanan: My mother. She raised us three kids all by herself and gave us abundance through her love and care. She encouraged me to chase my dreams and for that I owe it all to her.
DA MAN: Now for something unrelated to film, can you tell us a bit about your modeling days? We heard that at one point you’ve been in campaigns for brands like Versace and Calvin Klein…
Chad James Buchanan: I moved to New York City when I was 16. Modeling paid my bills while I attended acting classes and programs. It was a hard time of my life that I didn’t particularly enjoy. However, I was fortunate to travel the world at a very young age.
DA MAN: What was it then that made you take the plunge into acting?
Chad James Buchanan: I always loved film growing up and had a very deep passion for psychology and why people behave the way they do. Like, what makes a person tick, ya know? I landed my first guest star role on “The Glades”. This was also my first audition ever! It was a fake-it-till-you-make-it kind of thing. I had no idea what I was doing. [Laughs] When I finally got a taste for what it was like to be on set I moved to Los Angeles and never looked back.
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DA MAN: Looking back at your career, what would you say has been your greatest achievement so far?
Chad James Buchanan: My greatest achievement thus far has probably been some of my performances in theater. There have been certain moments which have transcended my own capacity for understanding; performances in which you lose yourself in character and in the moment of the scene. Then, when you finally take a conscious step back and realize that the audience is crying or hanging on your every action. Ah, there’s nothing like it. I hope to have moments like these on the big screen.
DA MAN: It would certainly seem that you have a lot on your plate for the time being. Do you enjoy being busy?
Chad James Buchanan: I enjoy being busy. I thrive in the routine and hard work of it all. Only recently have I realized the importance of relaxing, letting go and allowing time to enjoy the fruits of the labor.
DA MAN: On a perhaps related note, when—or where—do you feel the happiest?
Chad James Buchanan: I feel the happiest with my girlfriend, somewhere by the sea. Perhaps, on a beach. In Hawaii.
“There have been certain moments which have transcended my own capacity for understanding; performances in which you lose yourself in character and in the moment of the scene”
DA MAN: Besides acting, what else are you passionate about?
Chad James Buchanan: I’m very passionate about helping the less fortunate achieve greatness. I believe we all have the power and capacity to make our dreams a reality. I’d love to help as many people as I can to truly realize this and break free of fear. To help people transform physically, mentally, and spiritually. Thus, I am passionate about fitness, nutrition, travel and life’s deeper undercurrent.
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DA MAN: Building on what you have achieved so far and what you will do in the near future, how do you want to be known as in the years to come?
Chad James Buchanan: All I want is to be known as a truly good man who did many great things.
DA MAN: Final question: What is your motto?
Chad James Buchanan: All love.
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Photography Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling Courtney Leday
Grooming Elie Maalouf
Model Chad James Buchanan