By Cathal McGuigan
A Magherafelt-based actor has said he was “blown away” when he learned he had been cast in Battle at Big Rock, a short film that's part of the Jurassic World franchise.
Chris Finlayson (36) plays American biker Greg in the film and aims to build on this role and some experience as an extra to land more acting roles.
Battle at Big Rock was posted to Youtube on Sunday and had been viewed more than three million times by Thursday evening. Starring alongside Chris in the film were André Holland (Moonlight, American Horror Story) and Natalie Martinez (Death Race, The I-Land).
Scottish-born Chris (pictured above) moved to Magherafelt in 2002, where he worked as a personal trainer. He said that his acting career really began when the opportunity arose to work as an extra on Game of Thrones.
As well as appearing as a member of the Night's Watch in three seasons of the show, he's also featured in Superman drama Krypton and filmed sword-fighting scenes for the film Viking Destiny, which is available on Netflix.
He first heard about the Jurassic World role when a friend tagged him on Facebook in a post from Louise Kiely Casting, which gave away very few details about the role.
“They were looking for a biker with a flawless American accent. I just thought I'd go for it and see what happens,” he said.
Chris said that when it came to the day of the audition in Dublin he was “sweating bullets” and almost didn't go through with it.
“Just as I was walking up to the door, I sort of freaked out. I went past it and I said to myself 'I can't do this' just because of the nerves, because I wanted it so badly,” he said.
“Then I was thinking to myself, 'you've come this far, you need to do this.' I genuinely thought I didn't stand a chance as I knew I'd be up against actors with more experience.”
“I went and got myself two pints of Guinness, settled my nerves and went back. I was happy when I came out and thought I'd done well but I thought it would just be good experience and that I wasn't going to get it.”
A few weeks later the casting agent emailed Chris to let him know that the role was his, but he still didn't know exactly what he had been cast in.
“I thought it was probably some low-budget thing, but I was happy to get the experience and a few lines. To me, that would be a start at least.”
Chris found a few clues about the production by looking up Jurassic World 3 director Colin Trevorrow on IMDB, but it was only at a costume fitting that he fully realised how big an opportunity he had been given.
“They weren't even allowed to say it but it was so secret,” he said.
“One of the girls said to me that all they tell could me was that it rhymes with 'schminosaurs' and I just knew. I was just blown away because I've always loved Jurassic Park.”
The eight-minute film was filmed in January in Co Wicklow, which means that Chris is happy to finally be able to talk about the role he's had to keep under wraps for months.
“The weirdest thing is just seeing my name in the credits. That's one of the most surreal things,” he said.
Chris said that he hopes to find an agent in the near future to help him land more roles. He believes that a talent for accents he's developed from a young age can help him secure some great parts.
“Accents have always been something that comes naturally to me. Even when I was only about four or five years old, I would talk to myself in the mirror and try out lots of different accents.”
This skill came in handy when Chris played redneck biker Greg with an American accent so accurate that the production crew assumed it was his regular speaking voice.
“Most of the crew on the set thought I was an American actor,” Chris said.
“It wasn't until I'd done my first scene and I asked someone what time it was, that they realised I wasn't an American. They couldn't believe it when I said I'd just came down from Magherafelt.”
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