From Wayward Pines to The Fosters and now season 4 of Showtime’s, The Affair, Christopher Meyer is making a name for himself. In the show, which just had its season finale, he plays Anton, a seriously smart student who Noah (Dominic West) takes under his wing – as only Noah can.
When we talked, he was in the middle of filming, All Day and a Night, opposite Jeffrey Wright, who he calls, “a beast!” In this interview, he talks about playing Anton in The Affair and working with West, how he got his start and his most embarrassing audition.
Your character Anton, he’s described as brilliant.
Christopher Meyer: Yeah, that is what they say. I mean, he’s a diamond in the rough per se. Lives in Compton and goes to Compton Academy and his parents are also scholars. His Dad went to Harvard but dropped out, so I mean, he was raised in a good family. It’s only right that he became smart. I think the conflict with it is that his mom got a new position at the school and asserting her dominance, I guess she needed me as an example when I got caught plagiarizing and held me back a year. So, the perception of him in the beginning… I feel like nobody knows he a genius until people engage him.
When you get the sides and the character description, you can’t play brilliant. You know what I mean?
Christopher Meyer: Right, no.
What did you do for the audition?
Christopher Meyer: The audition piece was actually, I think, the scenes from the first episode when Noah kinda tested me on whether or not I knew what I was talking about. So I mean, I did my own research for that. I looked up George Orwell and Oceania’s Truth and read about the Ministry back in the day. Really, I just wanted to know.
When they say brilliant, the only way you could play that is if the writing is brilliant, which it is. For me, I just had to know what I was talking about. For Chris, Chris just had to know what he was saying, you know what I mean?
Especially playing a really smart guy. You gotta know everything the guys talking about, like if you’re playing a doctor.
Christopher Meyer: Right. Exactly, you have to go through actual research. You don’t want to say things you don’t understand cause then you’re going to say it wrong and you’re going to look stupid. He was so smart that I had to go look up shit on the internet. I need to do research just do understand what he’s talking about.
How is it working with Dominic West? I think he’s the greatest.
Christopher Meyer: Yeah, he is the greatest. I love that you said that. I honestly think he’s one of the greatest in my opinion too. What’s crazy about it is I didn’t know until I worked with him. Obviously, I’d heard about The Wire and I’d seen his work and branded him in my brain as a great actor, but I didn’t know how great he was until I worked with him. It’s so effortless for him. Obviously, he’s a veteran, he’s been doing it for years but this guy is an all-around great guy. I feel like I learned a lot. We actually hung out a lot too. So it was a cool experience.
I still have never seen “The Wire” though. A bunch of people whenever I talk about Dominic, they are like, “What, are you crazy? You’ve never seen The Wire?” I don’t even know, I just know him from set.
You need to start binge watching that tonight!
Christopher Meyer: You know what, I’ve actually been thinking about binge watching something, so I might have to get into that. I know it’s acclaimed as the best show ever.
Acting wise, do you learn or takeaway anything from him?
Christopher Meyer: We did have one long conversation over lunch. It was between him, me and Russell Hornsby. We were talking about how much the game has changed from their generation and our generation. We did get into a little bit about acting and stuff like that. Since I never came out and actually asked him advice, he never sat down and gave me some.
What I took from him was really just observing and absorbing his energy. How do I say it? I was just learning how to be number one. He’s number one on the call sheet. He’s the captain of the ship in a way, as far as the acting world goes. I think what I learned from him is how to take that job and make it yours and own it.
How did you get your start? You got an agent when you were in middle school still?
Christopher Meyer: Yeah, I was still in middle school. Still actually going to middle school in South Florida at a middle school called Bak Middle School of the Arts. The lady who trained me to get into the arts school just so happened to know my agent’s assistance. She notified them, “Hey, I know you know a couple kids that go to that school.” She let us know that there’s an open casting for an agent who could potentially put us on TV.
I told my mom about it cause when I was younger I was very, very excited about acting. I still am very excited. It was also new and my parents still kind of looked at it as a hobby. I looked at it as way more. I was on it and I told my parents, “Hey, this is something I want to try and do.” They were all for it. We had to drive an hour and a half down to Miami and I auditioned. I met him, he was eighteen when I met him. He had been managing since he was fifteen years old. My parents were kind of skeptical, cause here’s this 18-year-old kid. He was very about his business. He had been to a couple of my plays at Bak, watched me act, and really believed in me. Now, I think its 11 or 12 years later, he’s still my agent.
You’re still with him? Nice.
Christopher Meyer: Yeah, that’s still my main man.
You’re from South Florida. How did you end up moving to LA?
Christopher Meyer: Constant nagging from the agent. Almost every month. “When you moving to LA? When you moving to LA? When you moving to LA?” He moved his operation out there a good year, year and a half before. He had actually taken me to LA, too. He had taken us there, me, my mom, and my dad, to see what it was like. We stayed in a hotel, we went on auditions, met other agents out there and managers and stuff like that. We were pretty convinced that this was the real thing. I wanted to finish out middle school though, for sure.
What’s really funny is there is a high school there called High School of the Arts. I wanted to go there really badly cause all my friends went and by some coincidence, I didn’t get in. They didn’t accept me. I guess I didn’t do good enough. I think that was the deciding factor. Alright, moving to LA.
You should just get somebody to take a picture of you giving them the finger or something.
Christopher Meyer: (laughter) You know what, I don’t even look at it like that. I think if I did get in, things might have been different.
That’s true. From the time you moved to LA, you pretty quickly got a part on General Hospital?
Christopher Meyer: I believe it was in a couple of months. I think it was in three or four months. It was super cool because I was maybe fourteen? I didn’t know anything about soap operas. But my mom has been a die-hard fan. That show’s been on the air 50+ years I think? 60+ year’s maybe? I don’t know. My mom’s been watching it since she was thirteen, religiously. She was more excited than everybody. I did about twenty something episodes of that show. I think it was the best transition I could have had from doing nothing but theater to TV because they are kind of similar, soap opera acting and theater. Very broad, very grand. It also trained me in learning how to learn lines because we shot an episode a day. I’m very grateful for that.
Are you good at remembering lines?
Christopher Meyer: Oh, it’s like scary, actually. My friends think I’m crazy sometimes. When I ask them to go over scripts that I just got, I read them three or 4 times and I put the sides down. I got it.
Are you working on something with Jeffrey Wright?
Christopher Meyer: I am working on something with Jeffery Wright actually. Well, right now I’m on hiatus in a way. I go back on Sunday. I’m shooting a movie with Jeffrey Wright, Ashton Sanders is leading and Joe Robert Cole, who wrote Black Panther is directing. Its his directorial debut and it’s called “All Day and a Night”.
Man, you’re working with two of my favorite actors, Dominic West and Jeffrey Wright. I think that Jeffery Wright is just a brilliant.
Christopher Meyer: Dude, Jeffrey is, he’s a beast, he’s a beast, he’s a beast.
What’s your advice to young actors?
Christopher Meyer: As cliché as it really sounds, this is a marathon, not a race. You’re gonna have to wait. I mean some people don’t, but you might have too. Don’t give up. I think that’s with anything in life. If you want something, work hard at it, and try and wait a long time until it happens. There’s always going to be ups and downs, but through the downs, I say just keep your head up try to keep yourself occupied. Just not giving up. You look at the best, you look at some of the greatest. Hear their stories. If you really love it, stick in there. That’s that.
What’s been your worst audition or your most embarrassing audition?
Christopher Meyer: Oh sheesh. OK. Kim Coleman, who acting just cast me in this movie, All Day and A Night.
I guess the worst audition I went on, I don’t remember exactly what the project was, but I just remember actually freezing. Kim Coleman, she casts so much. If you look her name up, she casts so much. Bunch of great content, bunch of great productions. I was always under the impression that she didn’t like me. I would go in there over thinking everything and this was a really, really big one that I was really in love with. I just froze. In the middle of a monologue, actually froze for like ten seconds and had the most awkward staring contest. I started sweating immediately, she’s like, “Alright, it’s all good, calm down.” We did it again. I fucked up some more times and then I just left. I don’t know if you know what that’s like but freezing is just, I don’t know. I shut up for the next three hours. I didn’t say anything. But you know what? It’s cool. I realized that she kept bringing me in, which mean she liked me. And now she cast me in this.