Chris Greene of ‘Complications’ on How He Stays a Working Actor

It’s been more than 10 years since he booked his first professional acting role, but Chris Greene is still honing his craft. “I still train. People are like ‘Oh, but you’ve been working on shows and films and stuff,’” he says, and compares it to LeBron James taking a summer off from the court. “He’s probably out there every day dribbling and practicing and working out, because you have to.” A feature film and network television star with roles on hit shows like “Complications” and “Being Mary Jane,” Greene was born and raised in New York, and first came South for college. Now, with a booming film and television industry in the region, he has been able to build a successful career through opportunities in Atlanta, Ga., and other cities in the Southeast—though he has been to Los Angeles and New York, and notes a subtle difference in the actors there. “People seem more hungry [in the South]. Not to say that people in L.A. or New York aren’t, but I guess they appreciate it more because they haven’t had it so long in the South. So they want to keep it here so it’s like they work that extra little bit, that extra little harder.” In addition to the typical preparations (like familiarizing himself with the script and researching the subject), Greene uses his music background to help him get into character. “I’ve been involved in music since I was eight. So nine times out of 10 I’ll assign a soundtrack that influences me for my audition. So if I’m auditioning for something real intense, real heavy, like for my role in ‘Complications,’ for example—Maddox is a gang member, but he’s a laid-back kind of guy, so I listen to a lot of Snoop’s stuff, his older stuff when he was laid-back and loving ladies and loving life.” About four years ago, Greene hit a point where he wasn’t getting many auditions. But instead of wallowing, he used his spare time to create his own work. “It was just a dry spell and every actor goes through that. So I was like, ‘Why don’t I just create my own little sketches, my own little short films and put myself in them. So that way I get to practice and keep sharp and learn something about directing and producing.’ It’s helped me so much as an actor to see the process of what a director has to do, to see the behind-the-scenes process, why they have to set up the lights a certain way, why the camera has to be a certain way. And it’s helped me use my time on set much better as an actor.” Greene’s latest role is in the upcoming film, “The Birth of a Nation,” starring Armie Hammer and Gabrielle Union. “It’s amazing how you soak in so much by not saying anything and just looking and listening,” says Greene. “And that left a kind of lasting impact on me, personally…learning how to listen sometimes and learning how to just watch. You can absorb so much.” When Greene first got into acting, he says he spent so much time learning the business aspect of the industry and trying to perfect his look, but he now wishes he had also realized how important just being a human being is. “I didn’t know when I first started that it’s still about being a person, and being in touch with those types of emotions…at the end of the day, every character has the story that they’re affected by…it’s something that audiences connect to on a human level, and that’s what it’s about. All the rest of that is circus stuff. Hair and makeup make you look good, and that’s their job. Your personal trainer makes you look good, and that’s their job. Your job as an actor is to make that story come to life off the page and personify it so people can connect to it.”

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