Chaske Spencer previews SNEAKY PETE on Amazon

Chaske Spencer photographed by Elise Gannett

Amazon’s latest original series, SNEAKY PETE, hits the streaming site today. The “comedy/suspense/thriller” comes from the minds of David Shore and Bryan Cranston, and tells the story of a con man who finds himself on the run and in need of a new identity, one he borrows from his former cell-mate. Giovanni Ribisi, Cranston, Marin Ireland, Peter Gerety, and Margo Martindale star.

Reviews are calling the show an actors’ showcase and one person who would agree with that assessment is Chaske Spencer, the versatile actor playing Chayton Dockery in SNEAKY PETE. Calling the show a “really good project to be a part of, especially with the cast,” when we spoke on the phone earlier this week, Spencer went into detail about why he wanted to be a part of the series and working with the cast.

“It was really entertaining to me and the screenplay put me on edge…They’re a very fun cast.  I like that everyone comes in to do the work…I feel very blessed to be a part of this production.”

We talked about the show, the cast, and why you should watch, plus what’s coming up for Chaske in the New Year.  We also chatted about other TV shows we’re watching, getting into acting, and advice for young actors getting into the business.

Check out the full interview and head over to Amazon to watch SNEAKY PETE!

I’ve been talking about the show with people for what feels like forever. I’m very excited to finally talk about it and see it and have other people experience it. Has that been your experience now, being involved in waiting for this show to come out?
Yes. I’ve been excited to see the end product and I’ve seen the advertisements all over the subways and all over New York. Just from what I read from the scripts, it could be a really entertaining show and very suspenseful, which I’m pretty proud of being a part of.

Talk about getting involved, and was it a script you read and you really sought it out? Or how did it come across that you were going to be a part of it?
It was an audition and it was in Los Angeles. I went in, just a basic audition process, and I believe I found out maybe a couple weeks later that I got the part, and that I would finish the other screenplay. It was really entertaining to me and the screenplay put me on edge. I just really thought it would be a really good project to be a part of, especially with the cast.

You talked a little bit of putting you on edge and being a little bit of a thriller. What is the show, for people who aren’t sure what they’re going to be watching? How would you describe it?
I describe it as a comedy/suspense/thriller. Giovanni Ribisi plays a character who befriended his cellmate and when he’s released from prison, he takes on that other person’s identity, the cellmate’s identity, and it leads to a lot of interesting situations. Really good dialogue and I think the audience will really be happy with it.

What about your character? What can you tell us about who you play?
I play [Chayton] Dockery and he’s an individual who, through the bail bond, they owe him money. Giovanni Ribisi’s people, they owe Dockery money. So he comes in to collect and a bunch of events unfold. I won’t give too much away, but it’s very apparent that there’s going to be major conflict and major consequences if Dockery’s money doesn’t come up.

What is it like? Is it different shooting a show knowing it’s going to be for a streaming site like Amazon, or is there any different process that you go through? Or the scripts are different in any way that you’re aware of from shooting, say, BANSHEE?
No, not really. They kind of moved very fast for television. In that aspect, that’s the way BANSHEE shot. It was really quick. It moved very fast to get the daylight and get the shots down. I really enjoyed it. It was a really good process, and I’ve worked in television before, and I enjoy that type of shoot. It’s get in, get out, move on.

A movie and a TV show, they could basically be the same at this point because everything’s airing everywhere. That has to be exciting as an actor to have those chances to do everything everywhere.
Yeah, it’s like one long film. I’m a big fan of the online streaming of new shows and movies. I watch Netflix and Amazon as well, and I’ve always been very impressed and just enjoyed being able to stream the television shows I like, and not wait around until next week [laughs]. What I like about SNEAKY PETE being on Amazon is that you have that option to streamline the whole thing. And I think once you do that, it turns into almost a movie you can keep going.

Then you have the apps that are asking you, are you sure you want to keep going? I’m like, “Yeah. Yes, I do want to watch eight episodes. Leave me alone.”
[laughs] Yes!

What was it like working with this cast? Pretty big names.
Oh, it’s amazing. They’re a very fun cast. I like that everyone comes in to do the work. I had a wonderful experience filming the scenes with them, mainly my scenes with Peter Gerety, who I just adore and respect as an actor and as a person. He was a really fun part of the cast. I’m just very honored. I feel very blessed to be a part of this production. Hopefully, I can see where the character goes and see if I’m on Season 2 [laughs].

What would you say for someone who wants to watch, why is it a show for everybody, or is it a show for everybody? Why is this something people will want to sit down and tune into?
I think people will be attracted to the suspense, and plus the acting and the writing. I think people will really come away from it feeling very satisfied with the show. I love shows like this. It’s kind of a noir, in a sense. It’s the same story told over again, but it’s a whole different aspect and the dialogue and the actors and the scenes all play out. Really, I think the audience will find something in there and they’ll walk away with it.

Would you compare it to other shows? Are there shows that you think this is similar to? Does it really stand out as something different, as something that we haven’t seen?
I think it comes out as something we haven’t seen right now. Certainly on television. There’s been shows about faking identities before, or people taking on other identities. I just think the people will really turn into it, also that it comes with a good fan base, like Giovanni Ribisi, Bryan Cranston, all the other actors. A lot of character actors on this show. Very well respected artists, and I think people will love to see them in a whole new light of filming this series.

What are you watching? Are there shows you have to watch every week? What’s on your queue?
My queue, I have SHERLOCK, the Benedict Cumberbatch series. I really enjoy that. NARCOS, I was watching that. A lot of documentaries. I like documentaries.

I keep repeating it, but there’s something for everybody out there. They keep talking about peak TV and then more shows just keep coming, and it’s like, “Yes, I’ll spend 24 hours a day watching TV. Sure!”
Yeah [laughs] especially if the weather’s bad.

Exactly. On the east coast when it’s two degrees, you’re going to stay inside. What else, besides Sneaky Pete, have you been working on? What has been going on for you the past couple months that we can look forward to?
I just wrapped a film WOMAN WALKS AHEAD with Jessica Chastain, Michael Greyeyes and Sam Rockwell. I was down in Mexico filming that for about a month and a half. I wrapped that maybe a month and a half ago, or so. A story about Sitting Bull, and I was very attracted to the screenplay, the production crew behind it, and the cast.

Would you gravitate towards certain kind of writing? Is it drama, is it comedy? What do you find yourself, when you have a bunch of scripts in front of you that you want to audition for? Is there something you really do pull yourself towards, or are you looking for everything at this point?
I still look at everything at this point. I’ve been very lucky and very blessed that I’m able to have all these opportunities and these options to play different characters. I’m a little picky, but I pretty much go out and just read about whatever I can, especially in the screenplays, read everything and just make decisions from there.

What’s your audition process like? Is there research and background, do you just go in and kind of get a feel for the character? What’s that like for you?
I read the screenplay and I try to put an image to it and see where the character I’m going out for or being offered, what is his goal in the story. Also, if I haven’t done it before, if I haven’t played a certain character before that is challenging to me. And sometimes it’s just to work with people that I’ve always admired and being able to work with them. It varies on every different time of the audition or a screenplay comes by my way. I just take a look at it and go over it, see if it turns me on.

Are there people that currently, right now, you really want to actively seek out and work with?
I just love being on a film set. I work with a lot of actors, and some of the actors I like. A lot of people I don’t really know about them. I like to work with a lot of character actors, and that’s where I find I’m very comfortable and I can just have a wonderful film experience.

What I like about “character actors” is that you recognize them and you say, “Hey …” There’s that whole documentary, “THAT GUY WHO WAS IN THAT THING” Character actors really dive in and it is about playing this character and getting to know it and really getting a feel for it. I love seeing where people pop up.
Yeah. I love the films of the 70s, and a lot of the leading men were character actors at that time. Al Pacinos, the DeNiros, the Gene Hackmans, and I really like watching their work a lot and just seeing their take on how they approach it. Now, you know, you have really good actors. I was just watching TABOO the other night, Tom Hardy’s series. Yeah, it was pretty cool. I really enjoyed it. I love watching him work as well.

He had a hand in creating that show. Is that something, down the line, you’d want to be a part of, too? Writing, directing, being a part of creating your own work?
I think so. I’ve been very lucky in my career where I’ve been given a lot of opportunities and with that comes more doors open. I’m always open to go on that adventure of maybe writing and directing and seeing where that can lead me, but no, I just sort of see where it goes. Yes, I am interested.

Did you always want to be an actor? Did you always want to be in this creative world?
I was trying to be a photographer in the beginning. Acting, I’ve always been interested in it. I just thought the mechanics behind it fascinated me, so then I started taking classes. I don’t know. I don’t think I could really have this much fun doing what I do for a living. I’m very lucky. I love what I do for a job. I love my job. I don’t know, now that I’ve been able to work in film and TV, it’s been a really good experience and I don’t know if I’d choose another location.

Do you have advice, then, for people that are either getting into the business or interested or taking classes? What would you say to someone, yourself ten years ago, about what they should be doing or advice?
You have to be able to fail, to be able to commit to something. You have to have that feeling where you’re going to find your mistakes or find yourself is just going up there and doing it and seeing where you fall, whether you come out of the situation very positive feedback or you may not. I always say that for actors, it’s really about being fearless when you get on the stage. You have to jump off that waterfall.