SPOILER ALERT! You are about to have your mind blown by the one and only TTLBreakChicago. Ready yourselves to question what sustains life on earth as we know it while we navigate the murky waters of video game magic, taking the red pill, and just how much of a pain in the ass actors can be…
FaithKeeper: BreakChicago! Welcome to the Gunslinger Spotlight!
You’ll have to wipe the vegemite that Nightmare left on the hot seat, but other than that, it’s good as new!
BreakChicago : I read that Nightmare spotlight. Nice work, my man. Both of you.
FaithKeeper: Thank you!
FaithKeeper: So, BreakChicago. I get the Chicago part, explain why you had to go and break it?
BreakChicago : Oh man. Origin stories should be so much better than this one.
BreakChicago : Hold on to your hat, cause this is a real barn-burner.
FaithKeeper: *holds hat*
BreakChicago : My original gamertag was TakeChicago, like my email address, which to me was sort of a shout out to I’ll Take Manhattan, i.e., I’ll take Chicago. But. Somewhere along the line, I screwed something up and couldn’t access that account or something. I don’t even remember now. So, I started a new account and was feeling particularly uncreative, so I went with a sound alike.
FaithKeeper: We all have different routes that bring us here. Where does your gaming journey begin and how did it lead you to TTL?
BreakChicago : My parents got my brother and I a Commodore 64 back in, I guess, 1983. We spent the rest of the holiday season sitting in front of the thing, entering code from a book so that we could play kick ass games like “Are You Sure It Said, ‘Go To 120?'” and “Fuck, Why Doesn’t This Work?” I was 9, my brother was 14, and even though it was a total kerfuffle, we nerded out on it. A little bit later, I remember being at my Dad’s office and the guy in charge of the computer network pulled my brother and I aside and said, “Come take a look at this.” He sat us each down in different room at networked computers and we played a game that had something to do with tanks. There were no graphics as I recall, beyond possibly the orientation of your tank. But I was playing against my brother. Who was in another room. It was a revelation. Hooked ever since. I wasn’t an Every Platform kind of guy, but the ones that I’ve had have been very good friends.
BreakChicago : As for TTL, I went to one of Action’s Tournament of Participants, where I met Lanny and Deej and a couple of other guys. We discussed gaming and drank our faces off and before I knew it, I had agreed to come to the LAN you all had here. I only made it for the last day but you all are a charming bunch of drunks, so I made a point of worming my way in to the group in the months that followed. One of my better decisions.
FaithKeeper: How far we’ve come from entering code on a Commodore 64!
FaithKeeper: I know I wouldn’t be as close to my brothers as I am today if it wasn’t for endless Goldeneye and Perfect Dark sessions in our room upstairs. Just like music and the people, vidya games makes the brothers come together.
BreakChicago : Oh, no, I can’t stand that guy now*.
BreakChicago : I don’t miss the coding. I do miss knowing what was making things happen. The games we have now are approaching everything I ever dreamed of as a child, but they are also, essentially, magic now. That saying? “Popcorn is magic if you don’t know how it works.” That.
FaithKeeper: I never thought about it like that. Video games are just magic now. Throw in motion sensors and voice activation, and I have no chance of figuring out how that stuff works.
BreakChicago : There was a fascinating PBS, or maybe BBC, documentary as the host was a Brit named James Burke. It was called Connections. Late 1970’s. The premise was basically, “You don’t know how anything works. If the world ran out of electricity tomorrow, you wouldn’t know what to do. You probably don’t even know where any of the technology you use on a daily basis comes from. What the analog and steam and coal and iron antecedents of anything you rely on was. I’m going to show you a few of those stories.” It highlighted the fact that we live in a world that is deeply interconnected, deeply reliant, and, in a general sense, deeply ignorant. Sure, you might be a rocket scientist, but could you raise enough food to feed your family if the grocery store vanished? That kind of terrifying, accurate logic on full display. It was fascinating. Watched it again a few years ago. Holds up. The point here is that we’ve lived through one of those arcs. In our lifetimes. We went from computers being things that took up rooms, to having them in our homes, plugging BASIC into them to get shitty results, to where we are now in our lifetimes. Most of us have been outpaced. In one generation. Just interesting.
FaithKeeper: Damn. Mind: blown. That is such a liberating and frightening concept. A world without electricity, would we know how to take care of ourselves. And you’re right – this happened all in one generation!
FaithKeeper: Speaking of the end of the world tell us a little about your acting career – what got you into acting and how’d you get to where you’re at now?
BreakChicago : King of the segue.
FaithKeeper: I went semi-pro in the National Segue Way League, but it’s just too competitive.
BreakChicago : Gotta fight for those dreams, FK.
BreakChicago : Anyway, to answer your question. When I was in fifth grade, I saw my brother in a high school play. He only had one line, but he was my brother and he was onstage and the whole thing kind of blew my mind. I decided that when I went to junior high the next year, I would try and do that. Be on stage. Sixth grade rolled around and I was in choir and the teacher told me that they were going to do Peter Pan that year and that I should audition. I did. And I got the role of Peter Pan. Flying harness. The whole nine yards. And I caught ENDLESS shit for it for the next three years. You do not want to enter adolescence as the kid who played the flying fairy. Man did that suck. Anyway. I tabled that particular dream until high school. Got back into it there. Did it for four years and then decided, as graduation approached, that I didn’t want to be a starving artist, so when I went to college, it was with plans to be either a Political Science major or a History major. Because there is CRAZY money in History. College didn’t last long, as my heart just wasn’t in it. Woke up eight years later as a bartender, living the life of a starving artist, only without the art. So I got back into it, slowly. Took a class at the local community college, College of DuPage (which Bob Odenkirk once described, fairly accurately at the time, as, “a school for housewives”). Did a couple student shows. The professional theatre company that was in residence at the college, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, took me under their wing. Eventually asked me to be a member. Through some of those folks I made contacts in the city. Got a voiceover agent. Which led to an on camera agent. Which led to some commercials. Which led to some movies. Which led to some TV. Which led to you asking me about acting.
FaithKeeper: Which led to your hilarious and fantastic answer about your journey from Peter Pan (aka the flying fairy) to Hadley. So glad your life as a starving artist is finally paying off!
BreakChicago : I have no complaints. I’ve been far luckier than someone with my work ethic deserves. Take that, Horatio Alger.
FaithKeeper: The Dark Knight is pretty much universally regarded as a top 5 movie. The opening scene reels the viewer right in from the get-go. I’m not sure if everyone knows this yet, but you have a significant role in that opening scene. Tell us about that experience.
BreakChicago : There is a strong temptation to be quippy here, but I will refrain. Yeah. Well. I’m one of the clowns, which is literal, not quippy. I played Happy. Since they are not wearing nametags, nor does anyone ever actually call any of the clowns by name, I will expand. Happy is clown who fires the zip line from across the street to the bank, zips in, shoots the alarm guy, gets electrically shocked trying to crack the safe, then gets capped by one of the other clowns once the safe is open. And, point of pride, with the exception of actually ziplining across the street, which they could not legally allow me to do, I did all my own stunts. Which really means I did all my own stunt.
BreakChicago : It was my first movie. I’d been pretty much waiting for the Christopher Nolan take on Batman to be made into film my whole life, so to be in it was just a total nerdgasm.
FaithKeeper: I can’t get over how cool that is.
BreakChicago : It was pretty rad. It’s kind of cool being an action figure. It’s all downhill from there.
FaithKeeper: Your journey as an actor eventually led you to being Hadley in Chicago Fire, a role we’ve all enjoyed seeing you in. What was it like starting out on the show as a good guy, only to come back later as a bad-ass baddie?
BreakChicago : Better than not coming back at all. I didn’t know Hadley was going to be back, so the end of Season One was a bit of a letdown. It was an amazing year and I wouldn’t have traded a minute of it, but I wanted something substantive to do before I left. It was nice to come back and put some meat on those bones.
FaithKeeper: You came back with a bang, baby.
BreakChicago : And went out with one. Oh, by the way. For people who haven’t seen the Dark Knight or Chicago Fire? Spoilers.
BreakChicago : Also, if you haven’t seen The Dark Knight yet, what’s wrong with you.
FaithKeeper: Oh yeah. I’ll have to go back and add that in .
BreakChicago : Nah. Leave it where it is. There’s gotta’ be a statute of limitations on that sort of thing, right?
FaithKeeper: For serious. It’s been a handful of years since the Dark Knight has come out. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re just being rude.
BreakChicago : Heh. Seriously.
FaithKeeper: So which did you enjoy more – good Hadley or bad Hadley?
BreakChicago : Anyone who tells you they would rather be the villain than the hero is lying to you. But they were both fun in their own way.
FaithKeeper: What did you learn most about your time on Chicago Fire, and what will you miss most?
BreakChicago : I think that I learned how to be a better on-camera actor. It’s a radically different set of skills and pressures than doing stage work, and until you’re really thrown into the deep end, you don’t quite know what you’re in for. So, I learned a lot about not just performing but about the pace of a production and not taking the world on your shoulders. Things that go beyond the actual acting. Or maybe not beyond, but run parallel to. But, all lessons aside, I find I miss the camaraderie the most. It’s a great group of people, no lie. I think about them every day.
FaithKeeper: Sounds like one of those things that you’ll only learn in a trial by fire.
BreakChicago : Training only gets you so far. Which was an interesting parallel with some of the themes of the show, but that’s a whole other conversation and way inside baseball.
FaithKeeper: Any exciting stories from your time behind the mic or on set from Chicago Fire or any of the other shows you’ve worked on?
BreakChicago : Well… let me put it this way. There have been times when, in the course of shooting a scene, I’m not saying on any project in particular, but there have been times when things that were supposed to go one way very nearly went very much another, but I’m afraid that’s really all I can say. Buy me a drink some time and I’ll tell you in person.
FaithKeeper: That’s an offer I will absolutely take, sir.
BreakChicago : Good. I’m extremely thirsty.
FaithKeeper: So back to vidya games:
FaithKeeper: If you could dream up any idea and develop your own video game, what kind of game would it be and what would it be about?
BreakChicago : What a cool question.
FaithKeeper: Well thank you
BreakChicago : I’m not sure if this is the answer to your question, but it’s in here somewhere. The thing I have been waiting for my whole life is that data port in the back of my head. You know what I mean? The hardwire. The Jack. The minute that thing becomes an actual thing and someone can convince me that I won’t constantly have a headache or hear voices or die prematurely because of it, I am getting that fucking thing. Because I want that experience. I want the video game that is the waking dream. Where your senses are hijacked and you are flying the way you fly in a dream. Where you are on a mountain and it’s cold and the view takes your breath away. I can’t tell you what the game is. But I can tell you how I want to experience it. I want a story that washes over you.
FaithKeeper: A fully mind-immersing gaming experience. That sounds pretty intense, and pretty awesome.
BreakChicago : That’s the final act of that Us Being Outpaced By Technology thing we were talking about earlier, and I am all about it. As long as that shit has an off switch, I will be right there waiting in line.
FaithKeeper: Just don’t take the red pill, then
BreakChicago : Of course, I’ll have to find a new job.
FaithKeeper: Are you ready for Rapid Fire Question Time?!
BreakChicago : Fire Away
FaithKeeper: If you could have any superhero ability, what would it be?
BreakChicago : Flight
FaithKeeper: Favorite cuisine
BreakChicago : Ethiopian (currently)
FaithKeeper: Oooh. Interesting.
BreakChicago : Tibs, baby. It’s all about the lamb tibs.
FaithKeeper: FPS, RPG, or Strategy.
BreakChicago : Yes
FaithKeeper: Kill, bang, marry: Elizabeth (Bioshock Infinite), Princess Zelda, and Lillith (Borderlands)
BreakChicago : Zelda can take a long walk off a short pier, Lillith till the walls came down, and I’m sure Elizabeth would make someone a fine bride once she is of age. Not me, mind you. I’ll still be railing the crazy goth chick.
FaithKeeper: Wine or beer:
BreakChicago : Whiskey
FaithKeeper: Rare, Medium, or Well-Done
BreakChicago : Rare, but well seared.
FaithKeeper: You can visit anywhere in the world, where do you go?
BreakChicago : If I can add the word first to your question, I’ll answer it with Iceland. If I can’t, I refuse to answer.
FaithKeeper: That’s fair. I have a list, too. Iceland is a smooth choice.
FaithKeeper: Dream car
BreakChicago : Tesla Roadster
FaithKeeper: Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris
BreakChicago : Abe Vigoda
FaithKeeper: Superman or Batman
BreakChicago : Batman
BreakChicago : Clearly
FaithKeeper: Stu’s pix of hawt chix or Sunburned Goose’s pix of rocket ships.
BreakChicago : Photoshop
FaithKeeper: I’m sensing that I need to expand my answers next session…
BreakChicago : I’m just a pain in the ass
FaithKeeper: You’re an actor, I wouldn’t expect it any other way.
BreakChicago : I am giving you a vigorous thumbs up.
FaithKeeper: The grand finale…..
FaithKeeper: Kill, bang, marry: L0co, Jericho, and Cute
BreakChicago : Probably a rotation, and then back to Lillith
BreakChicago : I’d like to thank everyone who helped me get here…
FaithKeeper: So what’s next for BreakChicago? Anything exciting on the horizon?
BreakChicago : While we’ve been chatting, I’ve been storyboarding an internet television pilot I’ll be dry-humping into existence this year called City Squirrels. It’s a show about a group of people who don’t quite know what they’re doing trying to create an internet television series called City Squirrels. It’s going to be awesome.
FaithKeeper: I don’t know what to say to that other than I chuckle-snorted and water went up my nose after reading that you’ll “dry-hump into existence”. Thank you for that.
BreakChicago : Hopefully the finished product will have a similar effect
FaithKeeper: Definitely hoping good things for you for the pilot!
BreakChicago : Well, thank you sir. And best of luck to you on repopulating whatever planet you’re planning to colonize.
FaithKeeper: Mission accepted.
BreakChicago : Thanks, Faith. This was a good time. I look forward to seeing you and the gang out there in the magic.
FaithKeeper: Thank you so much for joining us in the Gunslinger Spotlight! We can’t wait to see what’s in store for you next!
FaithKeeper: And yes, I’ll be seeing you soon…in the magic.