Saturday night I arrived back at my apartment in Washington Heights around 2am to find my roommate Chris Grant (“You Only Live Twice) lying face down on the kitchen floor.  Chris and I are wildly different people, and I think that’s one reason we get along so well.  He’s gregarious and somewhat larger than life.  At the moment he’s making his Broadway debut in the new musical Million Dollar Quartet, understudying the role of Johnny Cash.  The show was nominated for a fistful of Tony Awards, including Best Musical.  Saturday night was the last show of the week, allowing the actors to have Sunday off to attend the Tony ceremonies.  Chris had been out celebrating with the cast, along with his friends Jameson and Stella.

Chris made me watch National Treasure / Borrowed my boots to play Johnny Cash

I checked on him, he said he was fine (the floor was comfortable), and I went to brush my teeth.  When I came back, Chris had decided he wanted to do his interview.  Ever since seeing a bit of footage from Michael Stuhlbarg’s interview (which just like Michael, is serious and thoughtful) Chris had decided his interview should be raucous and fun.  He would wear an eye patch, he said, and maybe a fake mustache.  His song is the only truly “rock and roll” song in the cycle, and certainly the only to have explicit lyrics.  If you know Chris, I’m sure you would agree that this is extremely appropriate.  Mike and I had planned to film him later in the week with a nicer camera, but this felt right.  I went and got my Flip Video.

I thought Chris was an asshole the first time that we met, and in his interview he basically said that the feeling was mutual.  He came out to Chautauqua to see his now ex-girlfriend in a production of Much Ado About Nothing in which she played Beatrice and I played Claudio.  We eventually ended up playing darts together at a seedy dive which the actors affectionately called the Murder Bar, a game which we were winning but never finished.  As the night wore on, we grudgingly tempered our mutual dislike of each other, unaware of impending friendship.

We played in a pirate rock band / He put windows on the walls

The following summer we both booked small roles in an all-male production of Romeo and Juliet at the Shakespeare Theatre in DC.  I played Friar John and he played Balthazar, but to be honest we were hired more for our musical talents. Along with Dan Crane, we played all of the music in the show, forming what we called our Elizabethan pirate rock band: Chris on guitar, Dan on drums, myself on melodica, and all of us variably on vocals.  We gave our misfit band the name This Cankered Piece, taken from a line the Prince has early in Act I.  In DC, housing for the actors is scattered across the city, but Chris and I lived in the same beautiful building on a tree lined street of Capitol Hill.  Despite our initial wariness of each other, we soon became good friends, and our marked differences only served to highlight the many similarities we also shared.

Chris was in rare form Saturday night.  At different points during the interview he wore an eye patch, a fake mustache made of masking tape, and his grandfather’s helmet from WWII.  He smoked cigarettes like they were going out of style, and we talked about our friendship.  At the end of the interview I asked him about his song and he said (no offense to anyone else in the cycle of course) that his song was clearly the most awesome.  I would have expected nothing less.

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