Chris Brochu chatted about his new film Zero Contact, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and distributed by Lionsgate.
Throughout his career so far, actor Chris Brochu has done a variety of projects. You might recognise him as ‘Mudslide Crush’ frontman Ray from Lemonade Mouth. Or, perhaps his role as “Timmy Hamilton” in the biographical drama Soul Surfer.
Chris has also appeared in several TV series, with some examples including The Vampire Diaries, Shameless, Dynasty, The Magicians and The Mentalist.
In this Courageous Nerd interview, we chatted to Chris all about his new film Zero Contact.
Starring Sir Anthony Hopkins, the film was produced entirely over Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic. As well as this article, be sure to check out the video version of this interview. It’s on the Courageous Nerd YouTube channel, linked below!
Zero Contact, written and directed by Rick Dugdale, premieres in selected Theatres and On Demand from May 27.
You’ve been acting from a young age, appearing in varied projects such as Soul Surfer, The Vampire Diaries, Lemonade Mouth and Shameless. What sparked the initial inspiration for becoming an actor?
Chris Brochu: Interestingly enough, it started in Florida for me. I was maybe 15 or so; I can give all the credit to my sister Kaitlyn. She was the one who really loved acting and theatre – she was very theatric and loved everything about it. It was her passion.
We ended up getting into acting school. Long story short, saved up enough money – myself, my brother, sister, Mom, Dad. My Mom took us and some other friends from Florida and we rented a house in LA. It was supposed to be 3 months and we never left.
Eventually, I booked a gig that made a little bit of money. I told my Dad, “Look, we’ve got some money to live off for a little bit. Get out here, come out here. We’ll figure it all out.” He did and got a job easily when he came out to California.
It was slow and steady, but also I booked enough things for it to seem like a possibility. I got to my early 20s and had to ask myself, “Is this something we’re doing or do we have to find something else?” I really buckled down, took acting classes and really threw myself into the art form. That was how it all began.
More recently, you’re in a new Lionsgate feature titled Zero Contact, opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins. How would you describe the film to anyone who hasn’t heard about it?
Chris Brochu: I would describe it as a sci-fi thriller unlike the world has ever seen. It says at the beginning of the movie, it lets you know. This whole film was shot during a global pandemic over 17 countries, enjoy. That’s the ‘elevator pitch’.
It’s a global sci-fi thriller starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and a bunch of other fantastic actors.
Once you had officially been cast, what most excited you about doing this film?
Chris Brochu: Truly for me, it was to just work. To be able to act during such an uncertain and stressful, hectic time. Rick Dugdale, the producer-director contacted me at the beginning of the pandemic, I believe maybe a month into lockdown in Los Angeles.
I picked up the phone, said ‘Hey, how are you doing, how’s the family?” [He said], “Family’s doing good, do you want to do a movie?” Then, he explained it to me. It morphed from his original idea and I think that’s what all really great art experiments have the potential for. I never would’ve guessed it would become what it’s become.
I just feel extremely grateful to be a part of it, that Rick asked me to do it and he wanted me to be a part of it. This is my third film working with him, so I hope to keep that tradition alive.
How would you compare your character, Sam, to other roles you’ve played? Were you able to draw on any real-life experiences or was it pure imagination?
Chris Brochu: I hope that that Sir Anthony Hopkins would feel the same way, I think I’ve heard him talk about it in interviews. You will always find yourself within a character, even if it’s a Hannibal Lecter. There’s aspects of you in every single character. If you cannot see yourself in the character, you’re not being an actor.
It’s the same thing with human beings. If you cannot empathise with people that maybe react in ways that you don’t agree with or feel comfortable with. You have to take a step back and zoom out a little bit. Figure out, “Where do I see myself reflected?”
There were many things about Sam – his reality was not my reality. I didn’t grow up with a tech icon father. Sam grew up in very affluent neighbourhoods, money was never an option. At the same time, he never had a father or a mother. Thankfully, I had a father and mother’s presence in my life.
There are things in Sam that I empathise with. I’ve had that feeling of betrayal, that feeling of loss, not feeling loved, seen or appreciated. I tell my acting students this, it’s about asking “Where have I felt similar?”
I’ve obviously never had to stop a machine from destroying reality, but where have I felt similarly in my own life? Where can I bring that authenticity to this character? That’s my job and I try and do it to the best of my ability every time.
How did having a pre-existing relationship with Rick Dugdale affect how you approached the film? Would it have been different if he was a stranger beforehand?
Chris Brochu: Potentially. I think I have a lot of trust in Rick. If somebody else tried to pull this off, it might have been a bit more problematic. I know how Rick works, I know how his mind works. I know he is a very driven individual. He’s always pushing the envelope. When he asks me to be a part of something, if I can, I’m there. I believe it will be that way for the rest of our careers.
Where can people see Zero Contact once it’s out?
Chris Brochu: So, there’s a bunch of different ways. If you wanted to see it, Viewly is an NFT platform that Rick Dugdale co-created. You can buy the NFT of the film, it’s also the world’s first feature-length NFT. There’s a bunch of different bundles you can buy. I bought the $70 bundle which provides the film, signed posters and digital trading cards with different characters from the film.
Otherwise, it will be in selected Theatres and On Demand from May 27.
In a wider sense, what would you like to accomplish with the rest of 2022?
Chris Brochu: We started production on Zero Contact 2 and 3 at the end of last year. The first location was Antarctica, so that’ll give you a little bit of a taste of the reality and world that we want to bring to the audience. That production should start up again soon.
After that, Rick’s got a couple of other projects he’s working on. I’m auditioning. After those two films, I’ll have a rest and hopefully record some music. I would love to record my first full-length album. I would like to spend some time with family this year; those are my aspirations.
Thanks for taking the time, Chris. Take care and stay safe!
Chris Brochu: Appreciate it Conor, be well brother.