Christopher Larkin was born on Oct. 2, 1987 in Daegu, South Korea. At four months old, he was adopted by parents of Irish and French-Canadian descent, and was raised in Hebron, Connecticut.
In 2000, he was discovered by director Martha Coolidge and cast in the lead role of Hallmark Entertainment’s The Flamingo Rising. He then went on to train at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts before entering Fordham College at Lincoln Center as a theater major. Midway through his sophomore year, he made his professional theater debut in the off-Broadway production of Back From The Front. Prior to graduation, he took off the fall semester of his senior year to play the titular character in Kafka on the Shore at Steppenwolf in Chicago.
Larkin relocated to Los Angeles after booking several off-Broadway productions, multiple appearances on One Life to Live and a recurring role in The CW pilot Cooper and Stone. Additional television credits include guest-starring roles on Awkward and 90210.
He currently portrays Monty Green on The CW’s The 100.
He recently spoke to Fieldingonfilm about his career. This is Part I of the interview:
Fieldingonfilm: You were adopted at 4 months old, how has that experience shaped you, if at all. Did you ever feel like an “outsider”?
Larkin: Despite growing up in an all-white suburb, I never felt like an outsider. It wasn’t until I moved to New York City and was surrounded by diversity for the first time that my identity was thrown into question. And then I started auditioning professionally. There’s nothing that will make you feel more excluded than having people tell you what parts you can and cannot play based off how you look.
Fieldingonfilm: You met your birth mother recently. How has that affected your sense of identity, if at all?
Larkin: I met my birth mother in 2012 after a quick and effortless search. The only goal was to thank her for giving me a chance at life, so I didn’t suffer much in terms of an identity crisis. If anything, it’s made me more proud of my Korean heritage. Gave me the chance to really appreciate where I came from.
Fieldingonfilm: Your bio says that you were “discovered” by director Martha Coolidge. How did that happen? Were you at an audition or just in public some place?
Larkin: I found out about the role off the BackStage website. I was just a kid. My parents aren’t in the industry and knew nothing about the process. No agent. No headshot/resume. I happened to be in the right place at the right time when The Flamingo Rising went into production. It was my first professional audition, as well as my first major job. Martha took a huge chance casting me in a leading role, and I’ll always be grateful to her for that.
Fieldingonfilm: When did you decide to become an actor? Was it something that interested you from a young age?
Larkin: I started acting when I was 11, so it definitely interested me from a young age. It was nothing more than an enjoyable hobby for a number of years. I’d say the shift came when I decided to formally train at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts. That was the first step towards solidifying acting as a career path.
Fieldingonfilm: You have done theatre, film, TV, voice-over … you play in a band … Do you prefer any of these over the other? Why?
Larkin: If I could turn back the clock, I would’ve chosen to pursue music. The only time I can fully step outside of myself is when I’m writing / recording songs. Acting is often a vain pursuit, as well as a pursuit in vain. I never have to “wait for the call” when it comes to the band. All I have to do is pick up my guitar.
Fieldingonfilm: You are a “nationally-ranked Irish stepdancer.” Did you begin lessons at a young age? Do you still compete? Dance?
Larkin: I grew up with an Irish father, so our house was constantly filled with some form of Celtic art. After becoming obsessed with Riverdance, I started taking classes at the Griffith Academy. I trained with them for five years before giving it up. I haven’t practiced in over a decade, but the steps are still locked in my system. I did an off-Broadway play during our hiatus for The 100, and was able to slip in a jig every night.
Fieldingonfilm: When you auditioned for The 100, did you read for the part of Monty or did you read for another part? If you could play another role, which one would you play? Why?
Larkin: I read for Monty back during the audition. I’m pretty happy where I am, but I wouldn’t mind switching with Richard Harmon for an episode. Monty is the epitome of all things good. Murphy is the epitome of all things evil. It’d be nice not to be so nice all the time.
Fieldingonfilm: How would you describe Monty? What do you like/dislike about him?
Larkin: Monty has been pure of heart the entire series thus far. This is what I like / dislike most about him. It’s great to play a character that is pure of heart (the Samwise Gamgee of the bunch), but it can feel one-dimensional at times. We see characters making difficult, unethical decisions all the time on The 100. It’d be a welcome change to see Monty grapple with the darker parts of his psyche as the show progresses.
Fieldingonfilm: How far in advance do you get a script for The 100? Do you know where the show/characters will go by the end of this season?
Larkin: It varies from episode to episode, but the script comes anywhere from 1-3 days in advance. The later we get in the season, the later the scripts come in. I have no idea what the writers have in store for the finale. I’ll only know about a week before we wrap.
Fieldingonfilm: I was a bit disappointed to see that your character seemed more prominent early in season 1, but took a backseat as the season progressed. Also that Monty became a stereotypical “techie,” which for some reason Hollywood likes to do to Asian actors. Any thoughts on the limitations – if you see any – placed on Asian actors?
Larkin: For the sake of time, I won’t get on my soapbox for too long. There are many limitations placed on all actors of color in this industry. Asian males are often heavily stereotyped and as you’ve mentioned, one of those stereotypes is that we’re all asexual. Monty is one of the only regulars who hasn’t had a romantic interest on the show. That fact has never escaped me. In the pilot, the main thing we learn about Monty is that he grew/distributed illegal substances up on the Ark. It wasn’t until I was cast that he became a “techie.”
Fieldingonfilm: To the CW’s credit, your show does have a fairly diverse cast, including one main actor, Bob Morley, who is half Filipino, and a few other significant minor characters played by Asian actors. Since you started in the industry, have you seen more opportunities for Asian actors, fewer opportunities, or is it about the same? What do you think might change this?
Larkin: We’ve also got Isaiah Washington (who plays Chancellor Thelonious Jaha) and Lindsey Morgan (who plays Raven Reyes), who are both doing incredible work on the show. Listen, there’s been a lot of positive social progress in the states over the last decade or so. This has been reflected in the growing number of opportunities for actors of color. Television is the most diverse medium an actor can work in these days. We’re still marginalized to a great extent (our characters as well as how those characters are marketed), but it’s undeniable that things are getting better. As long as Asian writers / actors / directors / producers keep breaking onto the scene, things will continue moving forward. The more people we have in positions of power, the more we’ll be able to have a say over what projects get produced / who gets cast in said projects.
Fieldingonfilm: Any role models, as far as other actors/performers are concerned?
Larkin: Sidney Poitier, who taught me there is room to hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. I’m also very grateful to be a part of The 100. My cast mates never fail to surprise / impress me.
Fieldingonfilm: What are your goals, as an actor? For now? For the future?
Larkin: Even though an Asian actor has won an Oscar (Haing S. Ngor; The Killing Fields; 1984; best supporting actor), an Asian-American actor has never won for “best leading actor,” nor has it been done in my lifetime. I’d like to be the first. Award ceremonies are highly political. Winning one wouldn’t be the pinnacle of my career, but it would help forward the movement.
Fieldingonfilm: Dream role(s)?
Larkin: Walter Lee Younger. A Raisin in the Sun. Unfortunately, it’s not my story to tell. Fortunately, I gain a fair amount of satisfaction bringing the character to life from the confines of my living room couch.
Fieldingonfilm: What do you like about The 100? How would you “pitch” the show to those who aren’t watching it?
Larkin: I appreciate that the writers have taken the show to a very dark place. We’re constantly pushing the traditional limits of The CW. Amateur pitch: A tale of hope in a seemingly hopeless world.
Fieldingonfilm: Hobbies? What do you do when you aren’t filming?
Larkin: I play my guitar as much as possible, both solo and with my band d’Artagnan. My good friend / bandmate (Wade Allain-Marcus) makes the process much smoother than it should be. He’s the wordsmith of the duo, which lets me focus all my energy on composing the tunes.
Fieldingonfilm: Favorite films? Books? Bands?
Larkin: Film: The Shawshank Redemption; Book: Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.; Band: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. These will most likely change within the next month or so.
Fieldingonfilm: Do you have any pets? If yes, dog/cat/bird/etc?
Larkin: I haven’t had a pet since I was 15 or so. Putting down the family dog was pretty traumatic, so I’ve opted to avoid reliving that experience.
Fieldingonfilm: What excites you about acting/performing?
Larkin: A lame response, but it takes a lot of energy for me to come up with my own words. There’s a reason why I leave the majority of my band’s lyrics to my songwriting partner. It’s a huge relief to bring someone else’s words to life.
Fieldingonfilm: Advice you can offer other actors, trying to break into the business?
Larkin: Breaking into this industry is often an endurance test more than anything else. Work hard. Be kind to everyone you’re working with. But most importantly, stay the course when everything around you seems hopeless. Don’t forget that overnight successes are few and far between. Cherish each victory (no matter how small). Make tons of mistakes, learn from them, and keep forging ahead. Find other creative outlets to stay sane in the process.