I'm Chris Bauer, I've been around forever, but you probably know me as Andy Bellefleur on TRUE BLOOD or Frank Sobtka on THE WIRE. Human, cop, coping with the supernatural is how I would describe my role on TRUE BLOOD. I'm also an indie wrestling fan. Here with Victoria from reddit, so ask me anything.


hey! all done here. thank you for the great questions and being the most important part of the circle. be well everyone! CB

Comments: 127 • Responses: 33  • Date: 

dreamshoes31 karma

Mr. Bauer,

Thanks for dropping by our big little fishbowl.

Can you settle a little debate over at /r/TheWire? Frank's wife/Ziggy's mother is mentioned a couple of times, but we never meet her... is Frank a widower, or was Frank's wife skillfully omitted by the writers for the sake of economy?

On a more substantive note: I want to say that your performance as Frank Sobotka in Season 2 of The wire is absolutely stunning. I just finished my fifth viewing of the series, and I found Frank to be one of the show's most dynamic and believable. Considering the show's meticulous attention to detail, I'd love to hear about how you prepared for the role.

Loved seeing you on Parks and Recreation, by the way!

ChrisBauer42 karma

first of all, you can obviously write, so i'm not surprised you were affected by 'the wire'. frank sobotka was a real interesting combo of intuitive conjuring and just flawless authorship. thank you for the compliment but i've never been so uninvolved in the evolution of a character. to my mind, david simon, george pelicans, ed burns, rafael alvarez, etc. wrote that season with such a restless devotion to the baltimore waterfront and its inhabitants that all you had to do was tune it in, like a radio station. i just got the hell out of the way and let it unfold. i think for my part i really related to a guy who had fully absorbed working for others as an ethic, but was not raised in a world with much moral sophistication. and as a stubborn pragmatist, he had a plan and stuck to it. but what was exciting was that he had enough access to a sense of soul that he was not blind to the consequences of his actions. he suffered. as far as ziggy's mom goes, i think i recall her in the recesses of my imagination as a sort of pilled out smoker, agoraphobic who never left the flat. he lived like a widower, but she was very much alive. toward the end of the season when Ziggy is in jail, frank says 'leave your mom out of this', and Zig says 'oh, she's out of it, don't worry'. how good is that writing?????? that scene with james ransone btw is my favorite scene i've ever done. it was two ugly people drowning in their human-ness. and yeah, parks and recreation was a hoot. i was out of my league. if they don't ask me to cry or punch someone, what am i supposed to do?

you_ruin_everything13 karma

CHRIS, I heard a rumor that Anna Paquin has caused a lot of trouble on set with farting on extras deliberately. Is there any validity to this, or is it just a load of shit?

ChrisBauer18 karma

hmmm. not sure what to say….if it's a load of shit, is that worse? though i can never testify to anything i haven't seen with my own eyes, i can't think of a single reason why anna p would fart on an extra, rather than on ryan kwanten. but you never know.

heathersim12 karma

Andy Bellefleur has grown on me over the years and has become one of my favorite characters on the show. Recently his badassdom has come out in full swing and I'm loving it.

My question is how was shooting season 7 knowing it was the last season of True Blood?

ChrisBauer18 karma

as i said in the above, knowing this was the last season helped keep our focus on the present. but man, thank you for the nod to bad ass andy. i love that he is ending with some authority that he can manage responsibly which means at some level, he knows who he is and has got over himself in the right ways. i love that his way into being a contributor was from learning how to take care of others, via his daughters. and, oh man, those early seasons could be rough because i knew how grating and annoying his edge was. but that's who he was and you can't ask for people's affection, in my opinion. you gotta stay true to the character and earn your fans the hard way, which is staying true to a character's truth. it really is weird when you have to play the ugly stuff, i mean i hear myself yell at the tv 'oh god, i hate that guy'! so i know other people do it to. i'm so happy they took andy to a place where he's earned respect.

MONKSFTW12 karma

Hey Chris Bauer, thank you got giving us this opportunity

  • What was it like working with Nicolas Cage in Face/Off and 8mm?

  • Do you have any favourite off camera memories of True Blood?

  • What was it like working with the cast and crew on The Devils Advocate?

Thank you again for giving us this chance, on behalf of this AMA I'd like to commend you on your talents and wish you luck on your current and future projects

ChrisBauer23 karma

working with nic cage is a great memory. i found him to be so genuinely eccentric, but warm and inclusive at the same time, which is one of my favorite combos, and kinda rings my own bell. he had a great sense of humor and spontaneity, which should be no surprise. here's a funny little story: because face/off was such a stunt heavy show, they had to match me to the physical appearance of my stunt double, rather than the other way around. in this case, that meant i had to have….hair because my stunt double had a full gq mop top hair do, and i was a baldie. when we rehearsed the first fight sequence and started going for it, nic had me in a headlock and i pulled away. but my wig stuck to his costume. not knowing i was wearing a wig, he thought he scalped me. actually i was a little humiliated. anyway, he said something i'll never forget when we were shooting that. he had just won the oscar for 'leaving las vegas' and i asked him if it made a difference in his process. he said, "yeah, now directors shoot down my ideas after 3 minutes instead of 30 seconds'.

ChrisBauer25 karma

after 7 years, there are so many off camera memories from true blood, but having just recently wrapped the whole series, they are all mush. lotta nights. lotta cold nights, to be honest. here's one: one of our directors, michael lehman had a running joke that he thought was funny, which was that he kept telling people he was pitching a story to make andy bellefleur invisible. it was a little annoying how he kept at it, but i remember saying, 'well at least if i'm invisible i'll get invited to a convention', which was to say at the time all the characters who had some supernatural trait were getting flown here and there and paid for their picture, etc. me? never did that. other than that, in the first season we were shooting in shreveport, la on a real southern looking lake, and i met charlaine harris, the author of the books for the first time. i walked into a trailer where they were preparing her for an interview and she said.."well look at you, you must be andy bellefleur. you're exactly how i pictured him'. i was very flattered but greedily replied (because she was still writing the books) "is he dead yet?" i was very happy when she said "no".

George_Hale10 karma

What do you remember about being on The Wire and having to deal with David Simon's unmatchable writing? And also, you have openly talked about your drug addiction, which you were probably struggling with when you were on The Wire. Did you ever see a contradiction in being on something that analyzes the war on drugs so carefully and that shows people like "Bubz", whose life has been majorly affected by drugs? (Frank Sobotka is one of the best characters in TV-History by the way and you helped to create him).

ChrisBauer14 karma

yeah, what a weird thing to address, but there's a kind of euphoria in discussing the past when the present looks so good. to be quite honest, i was struggling with alcohol in a big way during that season. in fact i put it down for 40 days while shooting that which was the longest i had ever gone. unfortunately, as is often the case, i picked it back up with a vengeance. as far as any objectivity, i had none. i do have strong memories of booze being from one side of that harbor to the other. it's a way of life there. one thing that i love about 'the wire' and simon's thematic interest as well as take on character, is that he is comfortable allowing people to be true to who they are, whether or not that is palatable on a cultural level. my experience was, he writes truthfully, which in no uncertain terms, is why frank sobotka may merit your comment that he is one of the best tv characters ever. thank you for saying so.

dj-shortcut8 karma

Hello, greetings from Belgium. I am a huge Wire fan,and was excited to see you appear in True Blood. my question: Allthough Andy and Frank are two very different characters, who would win in a fistfight?

ChrisBauer13 karma

hey belgium! this is a real nitty-gritty question…..the thing about sobotka is he was a tough sob but he chain smoked and lived behind a desk. andy b is on his feet and trained for combat. but guess what? he's a softie! and frank was hard as a rock. i mean baltimore winters? so i think frank would alpha that one.

trueblood18 karma

Hi, Chris ! I'm a massive fan and think you an awesome actor :) What has been the hardest acting challange in your career ? I love your work In True Blood so much, I'm a huge fan think you are so excellent and funny (of course haha) what have been your fondest memories of True blood ?? Thank you ! love you, Tia !!

ChrisBauer10 karma

thanks a lot for saying that! i've been so lucky. it's one thing to be able to work often, but to be able to play such diverse characters is beyond great. and you know how i'm the most lucky? the writers who hire me actually are the inspired and thoughtful ones. i'm just the idiot who learns their lines and says them like they're real. it's not much more complicated than that. my fondest memories of true blood at this point, besides being about the great people i got to work with, (and i mean great people, no hollywood fake version, actually good, kind people!), are that andy bellefleur was allowed to change and evolve the way we're all meant to in real life. to drop him off at the end in such a different place than the beginning is very gratifying. and it's been fun to TRY to be funny. i can be pretty heavy-hearted and andy bellefleur did me a lot of favors with his buffoonery. anyway, for the record, the hardest acting challenge for me is resisting the urge to think that any of the heavy lifting has to do with me. i am not a actor/writer, or actor/director, i'm a plain old actor. so i depend on the generosity of others to do my thing. and it's my theory that humility is the cornerstone to playing characters so their needs aren't obscured by my own.

UncleBenjen7 karma

Hey Chris,

Admitedly I've only seen you in True Blood and The Wire, but regardless I want to take the time to compliment your acting abilities. After seeing you in True Blood, I assumed you were like Andy Belfleur in real life... you play the role so naturally. After seeing The Wire, I was absolutely blown away. The characters are polar opposites, yet you play each of them so convincingly that I usually forget you aren't actually that character in real life. I think many actors could learn a thing or two from you...

Here are a couple questions:

1) What was your all-time favorite role, and why?

2) which role do you consider to be your best acting performance?

ChrisBauer10 karma

thank you. that's really gratifying because i figure my business is playing characters, not me. in fact it's really common for me to have conversations with people who have seen my work, and not realize i'm the one they've seen. not to mention the fact, that the camera does not like me. i look worse on film than in real life. i say that in all modesty, of course, because i think it's a tribute to how important writing is in what i do. i just got lucky i think in that, i have kind of a boring personality so the characters can claim a lot of psychic space! it's really hard to pick an all time favorite role, because i've done a lot of theater in addition to the tv and film work and there are some characters no one's seen outside of a theater in new york that i just loved. but to the point; i've never been a great student. my whole sense of education is related to the bits and pieces i've learned from these fictional personalities i've been lucky to inhabit. that's where i've done most of my learning; compassion, anger, fear, lust, honesty, love, grief, wit, survival, trauma. that's what people write about, and i absorb it from all these different points of view. i'm so grateful for that. i'm just a fan of humans, period. in terms of my best performance, you're gonna hate me for saying this, but the truth is…i hope….it hasn't happened yet. it's not that hard to be a pretty good actor, it's extremely hard to craft a performance that has balance, subtlety, honesty, spontaneity, without tension. i'm still getting there.

TeslaBoyGangsta7 karma

Any fun on-set stories from the Wire?

ChrisBauer31 karma

something i found funny was that my 2 year old daughter visited that set for one day. it was the day that they killed me. they had attached a prosthetic wound across my throat to make it look like it had been cut open. unintimidated in any way, she tried to put a penny in it like i was a bank. now that she's a teenager, i think she was right.

sleeptrouble6 karma

I assume that in real life you are, in fact, a stevedore; so I ask’ya: what went wrong with Ziggy? And how do you think he is doing?

ChrisBauer9 karma

yes sir. Zig came out wrong. wasn't nothing could save him. the community tried to protect him, but life won. he's better off in purgatory, most likely.

ChaosExstructa6 karma

Do you keep in touch with any of the guys from The Wire? If so, who? Who were your best friends during filming? Who was the biggest joker? Any good stories that stick with you?

ChrisBauer13 karma

yes, i love seeing people from 'the wire'. james ransone who played my son ziggy is one of my best friends. he's one of the great humans and we've been through a lot together. but whenever i run into someone from 'the wire' i get that good vibe. anthony hemingway, who was the 1st assistant director on 'the wire' is a really successful and amazing director now. in fact he directed several eps of 'true blood'. pablo schrieber who played my nephew nick is like a brother to me, and dom lombardozzi and i had worked together before 'the wire' on 61* for hbo. he's one of the greatest guys ever. as far as who the biggest joker was? wasn't a lot of joking going on in my scenes. lots of clowns, not so many jokers.

JeffHoyle6 karma

In the movie " 8 millimeter" , did you audition for the part or did they pick you for the part?

ChrisBauer10 karma

the great, and greatly missed casting director mali finn auditioned me for that part. 8mm was written by andrew kevin walker (i think his name was) who also wrote s7ven. it was really dark and edgy, obviously. i don't know if they let joel shumacher release the movie he wanted to. it was a brutal peek into a detached and miserable subculture. i auditioned with that speech at the end. yuck, man, that movie took awhile to shake.

topologiki6 karma

You gave a great performance in The Wire. After all these years, I still remember your role as one of the more memorable things of season 2.

Besides your own, which character on TB you believe had the most interesting developement?

ChrisBauer9 karma

thank you. i was just thinking about this the other day, but have completely forgotten who i was thinking of. arlene changed, jessica changed a lot, and by the end of this last season, i think bill compton is different than where he started. jason's change is more subtle but i think really powerful.

the_ouskull6 karma

Chris, I am a huge fan. I'm sure that you get a ton of questions about True Blood, and about The Wire, etc.. etc.. I have a question for you about "Tilt." Do you have any good/interesting/off-the-wall stories about working on that show? About working for/with ESPN?

Also, since the The Wire is pretty much my favorite anything ever, I DO have one Wire-related question, as long as I'm not hogging all the time here...

Whose idea was it to put Irsay's picture up on Frank's dartboard?

ChrisBauer6 karma

tilt! damn, that was a weird show. those guys who wrote it are great writers and were really affected by 'the wire'. i think once they got into production and realized their serialized drama would have box scores running in a crawl under the frame, they lost some steam. i loved that lee nickel character. it was kind of funny how he got in a fight every episode. you know what my inspiration for him was? clint eastwood in 'every which way but loose'. punching people in a white t-shirt and jeans. classic. michael madsen was really interesting too. anyway, let me tell you this, i can't say who for sure put that picture on the dart board, but that crew was so baltimore real, it could've been a hundred different people. in fact, it may have even been written into the episode by mr. baltimore himself, rafael alvarez.

Frajer6 karma

What was it like guesting on The Office and Parks and Recreation?

ChrisBauer13 karma

both of those shows are great, and frankly i feel self conscious and intimidated by those comedian types. in both of those cases, the actors on those shows are some of the nicest people i've ever worked with, and part of me thinks i sucked because i wasn't funny like those guys. but i was there as the straight man, so i guess i shouldn't have been. anyway, i love doing those shows. i hope there's more in the future.

cvillemade5 karma

Andy's a wrestling fan? Awesome!

Who was your favorite person to work with on the True Blood set?

ChrisBauer14 karma

well i'm a fan of PWG and it's assortment of geniuses. i don't know about andy. i have a feeling he looks over his shoulder when he watches 'naked and afraid'. there's no favorites but i can say i trusted ryan kwanten in a scene more than any other actor i've ever worked with.

theArnoldFans15 karma

Chris, You appeared as the masked character "Machine" in the 1999 film 8mm . Who'd win in a fight? Your leather-masked character or "The Gimp" from Pump Fiction? And speaking of "Machine", It's Schwarzenegger's birthday in a few days...can you give a birthday shout out to the original Terminator Machine?

ChrisBauer9 karma

shout out to ah-nold. the gimp would've choked machine in under a minute with full eye contact. don't you remember the end of 8mm? guy was a full nerd without that mask.

ben56475 karma

Hi, Chris. I've been a huge fan of you since Third Watch. My question is: How much do you enjoy working with Ryan Kwanten? By the way, you are such a talented actor. I hope you continue to inspire people with your positive smile and personality. :)

ChrisBauer10 karma

thank you. but man, talk about an inspiration. in 7 years i never saw ryan be anything other than delightful to everyone in his path. and that guy brought such fun and ferocity to any scene he did. whenever i did a scene with ryan, i felt like he carried me all the way through. and the guy's made of leather. we did a scene once at the beginning of a long day where he fell on his cop baton and popped a rib out of place. it must've been excruciating. he never even told anyone. the other night, i saw a picture of ryan and i on set and i burst into tears. totally took me by surprise. but i realized i trusted that guy implicitly. now that's something i'll miss.

trueblood15 karma

What season did you enjoy most during your time on True blood ??

ChrisBauer12 karma

it was a great 7 years, but without a doubt for me this last season has been sheer joy. it was great knowing the 7th season would be our last because it made it very easy to stay in gratitude for what we were doing and to appreciate every second of it.

two_off5 karma

Between The Wire and True Blood, which has been the better experience?

ChrisBauer7 karma

oh my god man, not to be too dramatic but it's a little like asking which one of my kids i like better. there's so much invested in each that i'm just grateful i was there for both. i'll say one thing though, just to not be a chicken-sh-t. the wire i did for six months. true blood was 7 years. having a job and playing a character for that long taught me things i'd never learn otherwise.

TheMoondance5 karma

Okay, I have a few questions:

  • While working on Fringe, did Anna Torv or John Noble ever break character because of their accent?

  • What are some tips for a wannabe actor?

  • While on True Blood, did you ever feel uncomfortable, what with all of the sexual stuff?

  • Did Lance Reddick recognize you when you were on Fringe?

  • Do you forgive me for asking so many questions about Fringe?

  • How's Anna doing? (Not Anna Torv, Anna Shap) (P.S. The reason I know Anna is because when I saw you on Fringe, my mom yelled "That's Chris!" and I was like "Chris who?". But it turns out that you know Anna, and I'm her nephew. And if you still don't recognize who I'm talking about, she has two kids now and she's semi-famous in the broadway world. So yeah.)

  • Is The Wire any good? I wanna watch it, but I'm not sure.

ChrisBauer6 karma

dude. great questions. and hello. of course i know of whom you speak, and of what you speak. let me just knock these down one by one: no, while on fringe i saw no breakage of character. on true blood, i did in fact have to be naked. though i was not uncomfortable with that, i felt for those who had to witness it. my biggest tip for a wannabe actor is to officially transcend wannabe status and go for it. with your entire being. the wire is in fact very good, and if you're looking for a reason to watch it, that should do. and yes, according to audiences around the world anna s is doing pretty well.

afterthefire14 karma

How come vampire blood has different effects on characters?

It made Jason hallucinate like he was on acid and it seemed fun.

It made your characters act like he was addicted to coke and/or steroids. You'd rage out.

It doesn't make other characters do anything. Sookie never has any signs of being high or anything.

So, like, when Jason got blasted by the rocket that Pam shot at Marnie's force field, he drank Jessica's blood to recover. So, was he then tripping balls after that? Didn't seem like it.

Hoyt never showed signs of tripping when he drank Jessica's blood.

Tara's mom is addicted to it like alcohol. She trips when she takes it.

ChrisBauer10 karma

wait a minute….are you saying there are inconsistencies in 'true blood'? as hard as they've tried, i don't know if the writers are always able to track the precedents of all the weird realities in bon temps. good eye though; some of those things are attributable to the idiosyncrasies of individual characters, some are f ups, and some end up being deliberate plot points. i think it's safe to say with v that it just exaggerates traits unique to the user.

trueblood14 karma

I'm so excited to have you here :O You are such an amazing actor it's fantastic to watch ! I was wondering what has been the biggest challenge during your career ??

ChrisBauer9 karma

thank you. that's very nice to hear. i said it earlier, but the biggest challenge to me is to keep my ego in check and regard it as the thing that gets me where i'm supposed to be on time, and makes sure i bathed before i got there. other than that, it's usually wrong. the fact is in my way of working, it's never about me, it's about a character that a writer created for a purpose. just keeping space for that to happen requires managing the fear, vanity, insecurity, etc that interferes.

judomonkeykyle3 karma

Do you have any interesting stories you could share from the set of Face/Off?

ChrisBauer10 karma

well, there's one several questions ago, but here's another: i said to john woo the great director of that movie when i wrapped, "thank you for giving me this chance to work with you ,john", and he said in sort of broken english, 'i try to make movie so that, whenever you see it, until you die, you know we had good time'. i thought that was cool.

trueblood13 karma

What role would you be interested in trying in the future ?? Massive fan ! Love you

ChrisBauer8 karma

hey thank you. i don't know. maybe a gene hackman type, regular guy trying to get by in a regular world, with nothing to go by but heart and soul? or how 'bout a 'walking tall' type who has to clean up a mess? whatever it is, i like playing people with no artifice.

dickscraper3 karma

How bad of a temper do you have in real life?

ChrisBauer29 karma

not bad. though that question really pisses me off.

angmar28053 karma

Hey Chris! If you could be any supe from the True Blood world, what would you be? Also, I LOVE Andy's character development through the series. I'll be sad to see the end of Bon Temps!

ChrisBauer3 karma

i gotta say towards the end, i was pretty jealous of the vampires.

trueblood13 karma

Have you ever been asked to do something for a part which was taking it one step to far ?

ChrisBauer9 karma

that's such a great question. in fact, just last fall i agreed to do something, that when explained to me, seemed to have some value though it would require going to some extremes. i said yes, but when i finally got the script, it was so obviously without any insight, and as a result, just shamefully touched the surface of violent motivation, and was too misogynistic for me. i literally could not do it. i've never been in that position before and i've done some weird things on camera. devil's advocate, anyone? anyway, that doesn't happen very often. you don't hear about it much, but the fact is, acting for a living involves a frequent suspension of one's own point of view to make space for a character's. but there are limits. otherwise, you never leave the crazy space.

trueblood13 karma

Did you audition for true blood or did you get picked ? If you auditioned who did you originally set out to be ?

ChrisBauer9 karma

i did not audition. i got picked. after a short conversation with alan ball. it was very generous of him to not put me through that process.

lostmetoreddit3 karma

Hi there! Any new projects in the works?

ChrisBauer6 karma

going back to the gym aka theater. i'm going to be doing a play in los angeles called 'race' by the great david mamet. it will in essence be an aesthetic colonic. i'm scared.

ChesleaFc2 karma

Hi Chris, It says on your public bio that you are German. My question is will you be rooting for them in the World Cup?

ChrisBauer5 karma

yeah, i saw that too! i don't know who put that up there. i'm a little german. mostly irish. anyway, i'm late to the soccer thing and there's no more room on the bandwagon for another instant fan. i have been watching though and germany's pretty good. right?

zacharywcox1 karma

Is it inappropriate to proposition you for a podcast interview? It'd be awfully amazing to have you on the show for a 15-20 min. interview while we watch, discuss, and get buzzed with "FACE/OFF." Weird, fun, interesting interview with Frank Sobtka to promote your current projects, discuss your participation with "FACE/OFF," and covering different aspects of your career would be an incredible privilege and honor, sir. Thanks for taking time to read my request and I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks again, Zach

ChrisBauer5 karma

honestly happy to talk about whatever, whenever there's time. there's channels to put that together. go for it.