Fans of ABC’s “Nashville” know that face – chiseled jaw, sparkling blue eyes and a killer smile. The face belongs to Chris Carmack who plays Will Lexington, the closeted country singer trying to make it in the big leagues. Yesterday, the Lowell Sun shared Carmack’s thoughts on “Nashville”, fame and second chances.
Being handsome comes with some challenges as Carmack has learned the hard way. Though it has served him well in the entertainment industry, it has also created some difficulties. It started when the Maryland-raised youngster attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts at his parents’ urging. They thought he should major in theater. While there, a friend told him about an open casting call for an Abercrombie & Fitch modelling gig. He went.
He got the gig and several others. Of his modelling days, Carmack says they were a bit weird. Though he had fun, the cattle call process of casting was demoralizing. He would show up, be asked to remove his shirt, walk back and forth across the room and thanked for his time. "It was very dehumanizing," he recalls.
He stayed in New York for a couple of years, then headed west to Los Angeles where he continued modelling to pay the bills. Meanwhile he auditioned for acting jobs and eventually landed the gig as high school jock Luke Ward on Fox’s hit teen series, “The O.C.”
That was 2003 and the show was not only a hit but a phenomenon. Other cast members included Adam Brody, Rachel Bilson, Mischa Barton and Benjamin McKenzie. Carmack says those were great days but he was totally unprepared for them and the fame they brought. His lack of skill at navigating the political side of the business resulted in him being written out after the first season. Of that period in his life, the actor says now, "You know how most kids look back at college and go, 'I could have gotten a lot more out of that?' That's kind of what The O.C. was for me."
From 2006 until 2013, Carmack was drawn to live theater in New York and London. He also was playing music with a couple of local bands. It’s a good thing he had gotten more serious about music because 2013, “Nashville” came calling.
He heard about the role of Will and jumped at his second chance. For his audition, he sang Jason Aldean’s “She’s Country” and wowed the producers. He hadn’t even made it to his car afterward when he got the call they were interested.
He knew from the start that his character would be harboring a secret – Will is gay and trying to keep it under wraps so he doesn’t alienate traditional country music fans. Carmack snapped up the chance to play music and act out a character with an intriguing storyline.
He is the first to admit his story is amazing. Of his first brush with fame, he says, "Sometimes I look back and I'll be like, 'God, Chris, you were such a damn idiot.' Just 'cause I didn't know enough to really drink it in for everything it was worth."
As second chances go, he isn’t making the same mistake. He is now living in Nashville where he is also pursuing a real singing career. While “Nashville” is on break over the summer – the season 2 finale airs Wednesday May 14 – Carmack will be writing music and playing gigs around town as he tries to figure out how to make his second brush with fame pay off.
"I just don't want to look back at this and say, 'I missed that opportunity,' " he says. “I'd rather look back and say, 'I knew what it was and I had fun with it.' "
The season 2 finale of “Nashville” airs on ABC on Wednesday. The show has been renewed for a third season and will return in the fall.