Commuter Council president graduates Chris Penberthy is in his last days as president of Webster…
Chris Hurt, freshman, reflects on childhood acting
More than 10 years ago, Chris Hurt sat watching his TV and said to his mother, “I can do that.”
It was a revelation that his mother Dawn pushed to the side, thinking it was just an empty declaration from her only child. But for Hurt, it was real. He wanted to be an actor.
Now a freshman acting major, Hurt has built up a résumé including movies like Elizabethtown and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. A native of Texas and a self-proclaimed strong Christian and water addict, Hurt began his acting career in community plays when he was 8-years-old. He landed his first big role four years later, in a community rendition of “Big,” where he played Billy Kopeche.
“I got to rap like a little white kid,” Hurt said. “It was so much fun. Everybody tells me that was still the best part of that show.”
His family, however, didn’t always share Hurt’s enthusiasm for a career in acting. Around the time that Hurt was beginning to branch out into commercials, other child stars were beginning to make negative headlines for drug addiction.
“My grandparents on my dad’s side hated the idea of me doing this,” Hurt said. “They didn’t want me to be the Macaulay Culkin of their family. I was young and they didn’t know that I was strong enough in my faith to not do that kind of stuff. But now they know and they’re more respectful of my decision.”
After doing plays around his community in Dallas-Fort Worth, Hurt began landing roles in commercials and eventually movies. In an audition for a commercial, he said, up to 3,000 people show up to try out. Of those 3,000, only 1,500 will make it in to read the script before the casting directors. Of those 1,500, 30 people will get called back and only one will land the role.
“That’s how I always look at it,” Hurt said. “If I get an audition, I’m lucky I even got in the door. So I just put it all out there and if they like it, great. If not, it’s just not my day.”
After high school, Hurt began trying to get into acting schools around the country. At an audition at a thespian festival, Hurt impressed representatives from 28 schools, including Bruce Longworth, Webster head of performance programs in the Conservatory.
“He was very, very interesting, he asked good questions and he made good choices in monologues,” Longworth said. “That’s what we look for.”
Hurt always left during the second semester of the school year to go on auditions set up by his management, Suzelle Enterprises. Recently though, Hurt turned down an opportunity to go to New York and audition at a producer’s meeting for a television series in order to pursue his education.
“My logic is if a role is handed to you on a silver platter, you take it,” Hurt said. “But I think I’ve got to get through my first year of college. I’ve got to get better.”
In playing small roles in “Walk Hard” and “Elizabethtown,” Hurt got to know actors such as John C. Reilly, Orlando Bloom and Kristen Wiig. He got his nickname, “Fuzz Head,” from comedian Lewis Black and got words of encouragement from “Elizabethtown” director Cameron Crowe.
“It’s Cameron freaking Crowe!” Hurt said. “Two-time Academy Award winning best director, nominated several times—(hearing) ‘Don’t give up on your dreams’ from that guy? Heck, yeah, I’m going to listen to you.”
Growing up, Hurt never wanted to share with friends his interest in acting and his experiences on the sets of movies because he didn’t want to be treated differently. But at Webster, Hurt is beginning to open up about his career.
For Hurt, acting is a childhood dream that he feels lucky to have started to achieve. He hopes to continue pursuing acting, but will do whatever needs to be done.
“I don’t care if I’m famous,” Hurt said. “I don’t care where I’m working at, I just want to work. I want to make money and be able to put food on the table for my family. If that’s giving up acting and going into business or politics or law, then that’s what it is.”