Actor Christian Campbell has come a long way since he played the adorably youthful Gabriel in the 1999 film “Trick.” The Toronto native starred in “Reefer Madness,” played the closeted gay Republican son of a preacher in the short-lived NBC drama “The Book of Daniel,” and appeared as a recast Bobby Warner on ABC’s “All My Children.”
Lately, he’s taken to the stage. This month, he’s in the cast of “Drift,” a new musical making its North Carolina premiere in Raleigh. Theater geeks are buzzing about the show, calling it the next “Rent” meets “Spring Awakening.” Directed by Raleigh native Lauren Kennedy, the show opened at Barton College Sept. 12-20 and continues Sept. 23-27 at the Kennedy Theatre at Progress Energy Center.
Q-Notes grabbed a quick few minutes to chat with Christian as he was heading out the door to rehearse for the show. He says he is excited to be in Raleigh — he says its “very green” down here. The City of Oaks should be proud.
You’ve had experiences in TV, film and stage. How are each different? What do each have in common?
I’ve done all of it since I was young, and the whole family is actors. TV and film tends to be a slower process. It doesn’t have the immediacy theatre does. Even in rehearsal, you’re constantly on your feet and working, trying to find your moments and preparing. In film and TV there is no rehearsal and when you arrive on the set you just kind of sit around waiting to be called on. When they say it is time to come on set, you have to be ready. I enjoy theatre more because I enjoy being active and I love what I do. I love the work and enjoy the process of feeling like I’m working hard. The only problem with theatre is that it pays crap. Film and TV pays more and, perhaps, ups your street cred a bit as an actor.
You have a brother and sister who are also in the acting biz. What is it like sharing similar passions with siblings?
You see families that are all doctors or all in finance. It is easy to find common ground at the dinner table. It is easy to exchange ideas and talking to family about what you are doing or if you have questions family can answer it from insight they’ve got from their own lives. Being a doctor or a lawyer is kind of like being the black sheep in my family. Usually it is the other way around.
You’ve had a few gay roles, most notably in “Trick,” and in the short-lived “The Book of Daniel.” Many actors are hesitant to take on gay roles, feeling as though they’ll be “pigeonholed” into one type of character. Do you feel your gay roles have hindered your career, or type-cast you in a particular character or role?
There were plenty of people who warned me, including my management. But I’m really happy I played these roles. I thought they were challenging and interesting, and I do think “Trick” had a real effect on a lot of people. And, there was a time when folks would say, “Hey, he’s the go-to guy for gay roles.” It was frustrating, but now I am playing a larger range of roles. For me it has been an advantage that I’ve played these characters.
Christian’s trip to North Carolina this month is his first to the Tar Heel State. It is only fitting his show’s schedule coincides with the NC Pride Fest. Christian says he’s excited to meet many of his LGBT fans. He’ll get a chance to do that after his show on Sept. 26, when he stops by CC’s piano bar. “I love piano bars,” he told us. “I met my wife in one.” Be sure to stop by and say hello.