You may know him best for his role as Henry Grubstick, the nerdy, but suave love interest of Betty in Ugly Betty, or the cool-headed spy Auggie in Covert Affairs but Chris Gorham is more than that, in fact, he’s a modern-day renaissance man.
Chris Gorham is truly one of the good ones. This guy is so sincerely cool and laid-back and down to earth, it’s just ludicrous—in the best way.
Hailing from a farming area in the heartland of California and with a degree in the arts from UCLA, Gorham has been a mainstay on the big screen and small screen for the past decade plus. On TV, he’s had key roles in Popular, Felicity, Odyssey 5, Jake 2.0, Medical Investigation, Out of Practice, Ugly Betty, Harper’s Island, and currently, the very hot Covert Affairs.
On the big screen, you’ve seen him, among others, as Walt, the smiley gas station attendant in A Life Less Ordinary (1997), as a 1950s missionary in a remote South Pacific isle in the film The Other Side of Heaven (2001) and the nice boyfriend alongside Alyssa Milano in My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend (2010). All in all in his young career, he’s played everything from a blind CIA operative to a serial killer, a nerdy accountant and a gay roommate (in this summer’s hit The Ledge)—a true renaissance man.
A guy of many talents, he’s also a father of three and married to Anel Lopez Gorham, whom he met in a theater class at UCLA and proposed to in front of the Beverly Hills store of Tiffany & Co. after a picnic breakfast on the sidewalk—Anel’s favorite film is the Audrey Hepburn classic, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
DA MAN: Is it true you worked behind the scenes for a couple Baywatch episodes as a teenager? How did that come about?
Chris Gorham: It was an internship behind the scenes. It wasn’t much, but I got to sort of meet David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson and see how it all happened.
DA MAN: You went to a high school in Fresno, California that specializes in the arts and later to UCLA’s school of Film & Theater Arts, so you must’ve known very early on that you wanted be an actor. When exactly did that ‘calling’ hit you?
CHRIS GORHAM: As far back as I can remember, since I was really small, I wanted to be an actor. Of course, I had no idea what it really was all about, and how much hard work is involved. I consider myself fortunate.
DA MAN: What sports did you do in high school? What do you do now to keep your physique in such an enviable shape?
CHRIS GORHAM: I played water polo in school. But I also played everything growing up, football, baseball, basketball, whatever. Now I do regular gym workouts, a regular fitness regime. But I need to re-shape my body slightly here or there to capture the character I’m going to be in each role.
DA MAN: You’ve had a number of roles over the years, mostly one season here or there, other times as a part-time character and a couple of films, has it been unstable? Did you ever get discouraged and feel like calling it quits?
CHRIS GORHAM: I’ve been pretty fortunate, without any real down time, maybe six months at the most. But once I did the hit TV show Popular [1999-2001, created by Glee‘s Ryan Murphy], I’ve never looked back.
DA MAN: What can you tell us about Covert Affairs?
CHRIS GORHAM: It’s a USA Network show about the CIA. I play the male lead Auggie Anderson, a former special forces operative who got blinded on a mission in Iraq. Now Auggie is the tech genius of the team in the Langley headquarters and close friend of the female lead Annie [Piper Perabo; Coyote Ugly]. It’s really a great show with so many layers.
DA MAN: Now that you have a regular gig, with Season 2 of Covert Affairs, how does that help with confidence and stability, the ability to sit back and choose possible future roles?
CHRIS GORHAM: Well … stability is a good thing as a father of three and husband. I’m very grateful and love the great cast of Covert Affairs, great writers, great show, everything. The movies I’ve done have been a blast and I always want to be doing something different.
DA MAN: The episode titles for Covert Affairs almost all refer to Led Zeppelin song titles, what’s that all about?
CHRIS GORHAM: Yeah, that’s the writers, they are Zeppelin fans. They are also R.E.M. fans and all the episodes in Season 2 will be named after R.E.M. songs.
DA MAN: You worked with ‘Glee’ creator Ryan Murphy on ‘Popular’ several years ago, how was that?
CHRIS GORHAM: Good. We all knew then that he was very talented and would have many hits.
DA MAN: Who are some other great/inspiring stars of the Hollywood scene that you’ve worked with?
CHRIS GORHAM: The one guy who is so totally the real deal is Henry Winkler, who played my dad on the 2005-6 TV show Out Of Practice. I grew up watching him as ‘The Fonz’ on the 1970s TV show Happy Days and was just mesmerized by his work, his dedication to his craft. I was so giddily excited going into it and he lived up to the hype. Also Danny Boyle, the director, whom I met when I did A Life Less Ordinary in 1997.
DA MAN: What have been the turning points in your life and your career?
CHRIS GORHAM: It never really hit me in that way, that I had ‘made it.’ In all honesty, I never think about it in such terms. It’s a journey with each gig and when it’s over, I move to the next and the next.
DA MAN: Besides your wife, Anel Lopez Gorham; who is the sexiest, most alluring person you’ve ever worked with?
CHRIS GORHAM: Naomi Campbell! She once was on Ugly Betty (the Season 2 finale, in 2008) for an episode and we’d all heard the stories, but, you know, she was incredibly nice. She was so sexy and didn’t really have this attitude that the press makes it out to be. At least she was pleasant to me, but yeah, definitely, she was stunning.
DA MAN: Is it intimidating for you working alongside so much star power?
CHRIS GORHAM: No, it really hasn’t been. But I was fortunate when I was just coming up to be able to work with big-time celebrities that were very nice, such as Ewan McGregor, Holly Hunter and Cameron Diaz in A Life Less Ordinary. They were cool and confident about themselves and they didn’t have any need to intimidate a young guy like me.
DA MAN: Do you and your Covert Affairs cast-mates hang out a lot outside of work?
CHRIS GORHAM: Yeah sure, we all get along quite well. Just last weekend we all went out and had a few drinks, Piper [Perabo, the lead female playing Annie] and everyone on the show.
DA MAN: What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
CHRIS GORHAM: It would definitely improve my quality of life if we could shoot in L.A., which would be closer to my two sons, daughter and wife.
DA MAN: Are there any things that you would refuse to perform in modeling or acting?
CHRIS GORHAM: Yes, plenty of things. Just like there are things I wouldn’t do in my home life, there are things I would never do on-screen.
DA MAN: Which living person do you most admire, and why?
CHRIS GORHAM: President Obama for all the obvious reasons and MSNBC TV host Rachel Maddow. She is such a strong, smart woman, who has made it without getting there on her appearance. I think she is friggin’ great and a great role model for young girls, such as my daughter.
DA MAN: What was your most embarrassing moment?
CHRIS GORHAM: In that aforementioned internship on Baywatch, they had an opening for an extra, “the swimmer” and I wanted to get my foot in the door of being on-screen. So, the day of the audition, I showed up in a skimpy Speedo swimsuit to try to impress them that I was ready for the part. All the people I was working with at the time couldn’t stop laughing, not that day or for the rest of that summer while I was there doing the internship. Definitely embarrassing.
DA MAN: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
CHRIS GORHAM: Sweets! But also great coffee, and maybe old re-runs of the The A-Team or The Incredible Hulk.
DA MAN: You have an easy smile and witty sense of humor, who (either family, friend or celeb comedian) has inspired that sense of humor?
CHRIS GORHAM: I’ve found it useful to laugh. It’s healthy to laugh and be able to make others laugh. I was raised in a very healthy, optimistic family environment and that is a byproduct of that.
DA MAN: Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
CHRIS GORHAM: President Obama and his wife Michelle, my wife Anel, Rachel Maddow and her partner, as well as the South Park guys, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. That would be awesome, we’d cover everything from politics to life to comedy, it would be perfect.
DA MAN: You and Chris Colfer of Glee share the same hometown, but he describes it as place of intolerance and fear of his lifestyle … do you get back to your hometown area much and how are you received?
CHRIS GORHAM: I have no reason to doubt Chris’s experience. I know for me it was different, I went to an urban performing arts high school, so there were lots of artsy, eccentric students and everyone was okay with everyone. I think he went to a school that is more rural… But when I go back to visit my parents, which isn’t often enough, yeah… they have balloons, banners, cannons, the works (chuckles)… to welcome me back
DA MAN: What other roles do you have in the pipeline, or is your focus just fully on Covert Affairs?
CHRIS GORHAM: We are shooting now for Season 2 of Covert Affairs here in Toronto. The season premiere was June 7, and it won’t wrap until October 2011, so there’s a lot of work between now and then. I do have a few things coming up, which were already shot, including a feature film called The Ledge with Charlie Hunnam, Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler and Terrence Howard. There is also a movie called Somebody’s Hero and another called Answer This.
Mitchell Nguyen McCormack