Kyle Chandler is one of those people who seems like an old friend after talking to you for less than five minutes. He is the type of guy who can probably get along with just about anyone. You know, basically, one of those always-glad-to-see-you,always-ready-to-help-a-friend-in-need types.
But, then again,what would you expect from a guy who had to cancel our first interview to help a friend with a broken-down car. He had just finished a 16-hour day of filming when he got a call that his buddy could use some road-side assistance. Now Chandler apologizes emphatically for having missed the interview that day but I tell him it was understandable. In fact, his missing that first interview may have made my job a little easier: After all, now I could skip my question about whether he was similar to his character on the show.
Early Edition, set in Chicago, is basically about a regular, average guy who gets his paper delivered early everyday.No, not 5 am early, I mean really early. Like, a day early.Chandler plays a Chicago stockbroker down on his luck after his wife throws him out on their wedding anniversary. He checks into a hotel and one morning he starts getting a free subscription to theChicago Sun-Times -- which does not seem all that shocking to him at the time. (A lot of hotels give guests free papers, right?)But one glance at the headlines convinces him this is not the sameSun-Times being sold on every street corner: This edition tells him what's going to happen instead of what already happened.So, now he can prevent disasters, save lives, fight crime and generally make the world a better place. In other words, he gets to do the Superman routine without leaving the Clark Kent persona.
Chandler says the script intrigued him right from the start. "It was a different concept," he says. "The hard part was not making the guy a hero." Chandler wants Early Edition viewers to see his character as a normal guy who deals with incredible situations. "My character can not get away from the paper," he says. It is like a curse because he is drawn into it and is not looking to be a hero or good guy. I would like to believe that anyone with even the smallest conscience would want to help someone if they had access to the information that my character has."
Chandler says he appreciates the opportunity to develop a new character and watch that character change and grow. Plus, he saysEarly Edition lets him be versatile as an actor. "The show gives me the outlet to experiment with comedy, drama and action," he says.
Television audiences were first introduced to Chandler in the ABC series Homefront, which ran from 1991 through 1993. In his first steady role, Chandler played Jeff Metcalf, a post-World War II Cleveland Indians rookie who was involved in a bumpy relationship with an aspiring actress.
"It was a fun series to do and everyone involved with the show was great," says Chandler, recalling fond memories of his first big break. After the series ended, he gave television another shot and filmed a pilot for FOX called The Pastor's Wife. The show was not picked up.
Recently, Chandler branched out into film with the supporting role of a lieutenant in Mulholland Falls. "My character got to help throw Jennifer Connelly out of an airplane, he boasts. He has also had roles inThe Color of Evening and Pure Country. In addition to film work, he's found success on the stage and even received the outer Critics Circle award for his Broadway role as Hal Carter inPicnic, co-starring Ashley Judd.
Not bad for a guy who did not start acting until college. During his third year at the University of Georgia, he auditioned for Shakespeare A Comedy of Errors and got one of the lead roles. "Before that I was 'pre'everything you can think of. My major my first year was freedom,"Chandler says. "I really enjoyed the initial freedom of school," he says of his college days. "It was great being able to essentially make your own decisions without being told what to do."
He ended up graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in theater and performed in several other shows while in school. Though he says he misses the'fun' of school, Chandler still keeps in touch with some old friends. In fact, one of his college buddies is his stand-in onEarly Edition.
Chandler credits his family with being a very supportive,positive influence in his life and his career. During Chandler's teenage years, his father died of a heart attack. He still gets emotional when he talks about his father's death, but the actor says he was able to rely on the love of the rest of his family to get him through the tough times. "My grandfather was there for me after my father passed away. My mother had a lot to handle raising a teenager during the most turbulent years," he says. "I am very lucky that I had a strong family which kept away the negative influences."
His family raised him well, Chandler says, noting that the most rebellious thing he did during his teenage years was to start smoking. "I've tried to quit many times but I have not been successful," he laments.
Chandler, who films the show in on location in Chicago, is somewhat of a native midwesterner. Though hew as born in Buffalo,N.Y., his family moved to Lake Forest, Ill.,when he was a year old and lived there for the first 11 years of his life. "I remember my brother taking me on his motorcycle to watch the Bears work-outduring the pre-season and going to some of the games," he says. (The family then moved to Loganville, Ga., which explains his southern drawl.)
Chandler says he does not get a chance to do as much exploring in the city as he would like, since shooting days are usually 12 to 14 hours long. Then, of course,there's extra homework too."Memorizing a script is mentally and physically demanding," he says."I usually have to memorize six to 10 pages a night."
Still, he tries to find time to go in-line skating along the lakefront or catch a movie or now and then, any little chance to take a break from the intensity of daily work. "Ilove the neighborhoods here. Wrigley Field is located in the middle of a great neighborhood," he says. "The city brings people together with all of the festivals and special events that happen here. The people talk to each other and they are big sports fans and really get involved with their teams."
Overall Chandler is enjoying filming in Chicago, except for the fact that Los Angeles has something that the Windy City does not --his wife. Though he misses not being able to go home to his wife every night after work, or spend his weekend fishing and camping with her as they often like to do, it's just one of the realities --and negative aspects -- of the business.
From the initial reviews for Early Edition,critics are predicting that the show will be a major success because of the winning combination of a favorable time slot Saturdays after Dr.Quinn, Medicine Woman and the average-guy-as-the-superhero theme of the show.
If the show is primed for that kind of success, Chandler will have to learn to sum-up his life story in 25 words or less and rattle off in laundry list form his positive and negative attributes like every other celebrity eventually learns to do. But then again,maybe there's a place in Hollywood for the down-to-earth.
"Being a fair honest person is my best quality," he says when Iask him to describe himself, then adds with a laugh, "and if I have a worst quality it is that I am indecisive when answering questions."
"I would like to think to believe that anyone with even the smallest conscience would want to help someone if they had access to the information that my character has."
"Being a fair person is my best quality... and if I have a worst quality it is that I am indecisive when answering questions."