Chris Zylka: I Do Some Dark, Messed up Things
The fifth episode of Secret Circle proved The CW hit a worthy heir to its Thursday night neighbor, Vampire Diaries, when it shocked everyone by killing off a main character. But the death of Nick opened the door for the arrival of his brother, Jake -- played by Chris Zylka.
And the shocks kept coming last week as Jake was revealed to not only be a witch, but a witch hunter as well, with grand plans for Chance Harbor's not-so-secret circle.
I caught up with Chris in anticipation of tonight's Halloween episode to find out why he wanted to join this coven, what he likes about the character and how it feels to finally be playing someone who wears clothes!
Insider.com: You weren't able to talk about being on Secret Circle until the Nick character died, was that a strange experience?
Chris Zylka: It was, yea. But it was fine with me because I got a break. I love doing press, but what's been really nice about this situation is that working on this show has actually been the on set experience -- so I really got to focus on that. I think that's something the whole cast is taking very seriously and carrying around like an egg that we can't drop. We never want to get rid of this feeling.
Insider: So you were welcomed into the off-screen circle much quicker than the on-screen one?
Chris: Definitely. I already knew Thomas [Dekker, who co-starred with Chris in 2010's Kaboom] but the rest of the cast was so welcoming. Coming in, I was already a fan of the show, which has just made every single scene, relationship and moment on set come that much more from the heart. I really care about doing a good job because they've already done such an amazing one. These characters are witches, but no one plays them as witches -- they play them as real people with real emotions and they're all dynamic. I think that's why the show has taken off the way it has.
Insider: And with the arrival of Jake, I think things are only going to get better -- I mean, witch hunters ... that's an awesome idea to introduce.
Chris: Totally. And what I'm excited about is that moment, which I know is coming, where Jake has to be completely honest with everyone -- which is so exciting for me as an actor. It's gonna hit so hard. But for now, you're gonna see Jake covering all of his bases and lying to the circle while having this strange connection with Cassie. There's a big question mark about him at the end of every single scene and that's been so enjoyable. Is he lying? Is he telling the truth? What's his deal? He may be a bad boy but he's also really, really, really smart.
Insider: Jake has this past with Faye, but obviously a connection with Cassie -- is she about to get roped into a second love triangle?
Chris: Quite possibly. What I think is so amazing about the way Britt [Robertson] plays Cassie is that she's so new to -- and scared of -- this world, but has such a curiosity about everything. Jake is a bit older and has studied it. When Cassie was getting attacked by Simone, he went in and he knew what to do. He may not have been honest about just how much he's been studying. He sees that curiosity in Cassie and he trusts that for some reason. But, obviously, there is something to be said about Jake keeping friends close and enemies closer. Machiavelli knew what he was talking about.
Insider: As an actor, what is it about Jake that you are really responding to?
Chris: For me, it's the scenes where I get to really show my dark side. Playing all these emotions and sides is an actor's dream -- he's dark and evil and I get to do messed up things. But at the same time, I hope I am showing people that Jake has a heart. And it's great to finally have a role where I am wearing clothes [laughs]. Clothes are usually just in the way.
Insider: That's true -- it seems like most of the stage directions for your characters start with "Chris takes his shirt off, and starts talking."
Chris: Absolutely. It's nice that I have still not taken my shirt off in one scene on Secret Circle. I understand that to be in this industry, you have to have a certain body or look a certain way, but it's nice to feel that your abilities are what's being desired for once.
Insider: That's something you usually hear actresses talk about -- it's kind of refreshing to hear a guy talk about the pressure.
Chris: I mean, from day one, I needed to play this character, regardless of that. But it's on The CW, so I kind of put it in the back of my head; they might introduce me without my shirt more often than not. But because I love this show and this character, I'll take my shirt off for any of them.
Insider: That said, fans of your shirtless work won't have to wait long as Piranha 3DD is coming out next year.
Chris: [laughs] That's true. But let me tell you, it really goes to the next level. I think people liked that the first movie knew it was campy and no one took themselves too seriously. People are gonna leave thinking, "Oh my God, what just happened?"
Insider: I don't know how you top a severed penis.
Chris: We may have penises -- plural. That's all I'm saying.
Insider: 2012 also sees you play Flash Thompson in the new Spiderman movie -- how excited should we be?
Chris: The hype should be there. I think it's the first time since The Dark Knight that a reboot will go above and beyond what people are expecting. It just brings something so new and character-driven to the table -- people are just going to fall in love with, and be a bit more remorseful towards, Peter Parker. It's a lot sadder than the others.
Secret Circle airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.