|Alma mater||University of British Columbia|
Justin Chatwin (born October 31, 1982) is a Canadian actor of film and television. He began his career in 2001 with a brief appearance in the musical comedy Josie and the Pussycats, and had his breakthrough role as the son of Tom Cruise's character in the blockbuster War of the Worlds (2005). Chatwin's first leading roles in studio films came with The Invisible (2007), as well playing Goku in Dragonball Evolution (2009), which is based on the Japanese manga franchise Dragon Ball. In the 2010s, Chatwin acted mostly in independent films. He starred as rock star idol Bobby Shore in the surreal sci-fi musical Bang Bang Baby (2014), which earned him a Canadian Screen Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and appeared in the romantic comedy Unleashed (2016), and drama Summer Night (2019).
Throughout the 2000s, Chatwin made guest appearances in several television series including Weeds and Lost, later being cast in his first regular role on the Showtime comedy-drama Shameless, portraying Jimmy Lishman between 2011 and 2015. Chatwin starred as a cartoonist in the CBS murder mystery drama American Gothic (2016), and also that year he appeared as superhero Grant Gordon / The Ghost in the Doctor Who Christmas special "The Return of Doctor Mysterio". Since 2019, Chatwin plays scientist Erik Wallace in Netflix's Another Life.
Besides acting, Chatwin pursues other endeavours such as activism and charity. An extreme sports and adventure enthusiast, he has a passion for motorcycles and travelling. Chatwin's journey from Vancouver to Patagonia on motorcycle was depicted in the documentary series No Good Reason (2020), which he also executive produced.
Chatwin was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia. His mother, Suzanne (née Halsall), is an artist, and his father, Brian, is an engineer who started in 1982 Chatwin Engineering in Canada, acting as President and CEO. His late grandfather was of French-Canadian ancestry. Chatwin's parents divorced in 2010. He has a younger sister named Brianna, who works as a professional tattoo artist. They were raised Catholic.
After graduating from high school, Chatwin followed in his father's footsteps and began to study engineering at the University of British Columbia, but after one week he switched to commerce. He dropped out after one semester. In 2001, he made the first step for breaking into the movie business, auditioning for a Canadian TV series on a dare, ultimately being called back and hired: "I was dared by a friend to go on an audition for a TV show in Canada. I took the dare, not knowing what I was getting into."
Chatwin moved to Los Angeles in 2005, renting an apartment with Noel Fisher. Briefly before this, he lived for a month in a travel trailer with a friend, stating, "We didn't have girlfriends; we were reading Kerouac and Ginsberg, driving up to the desert, walking in the dunes, and showering at 24 Hour Fitness. It was an exciting time, but would I do it again? No."
2001–2004: Career beginnings
Chatwin made his debut in the musical comedy Josie and the Pussycats (2001), in which he played an enthusiastic fan. The film based on the Archie Comics series and the Hanna-Barbera cartoon of the same name, was a commercial failure upon its initial release, but has enjoyed later success as a cult film.
Soon after, Chatwin starred as John Spencer in the two-part miniseries Christy, Choices of the Heart. He went on to guest star in several television series such as Smallville, Mysterious Ways, Night Visions, Just Cause, Glory Days, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction and Taken, playing also a juvenile delinquent in the television film The Incredible Mrs. Ritchie (2003), directed by Paul Johansson. One year later, Chatwin had minor supporting roles in two unsuccessful movies: he played an aspiring guitarist murdered by a serial killer who takes on the identities of his victims in D. J. Caruso's psychological thriller Taking Lives, which is adapted from the novel of the same name by Michael Pye, and starred in the family-oriented comedy Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, a sequel to the 1999 film Baby Geniuses, as a helper and friend of the title characters. Like its predecessor, the feature is considered one of the worst films of all time, receiving an approval rating of 0% on Rotten Tomatoes.
2005–2010: Breakthrough and film work
Chatwin was chosen out of several young actors to play Tom Cruise's rebellious adolescent son in the alien invasion film War of the Worlds (2005), directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the 1898 novel by H. G. Wells. It was a commercial success, grossing $603 million worldwide against a $132 million budget, and garnered generally favorable reviews. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle considered the film "meticulously detailed and expertly paced and photographed", Roger Ebert however called it "just a big, clunky movie containing some sensational sights but lacking the zest and joyous energy we expect from Spielberg". Ebert also found the human characters as being "one-dimensional". Chatwin's performance in War of the Worlds earned him the 'Breakthrough of the Year' award from Hollywood Life Magazine. In 2005, he also starred as teenage drug dealer Billy Peck in the black comedy The Chumscrubber, alongside Camilla Belle and Jamie Bell. Arie Posin's directorial debut about a group of superficial parents and young adults who are living in a seemingly perfect suburbia, had the world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, and was released theatrically on August 5, earning $351,401 on a production budget of $10 million. The film was poorly received by critics; writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers opined that it was "an appallingly clumsy and stupid take on drugs, kidnapping and suicide in suburbia". Although Keith Phipps from The A.V. Club praised Posin's technical direction and the cast's acting skills, he wrote that the film still fell "flat on its face". Later that year, Chatwin played the troubled homosexual son of Kevin Nealon's character in the Showtime series Weeds, appearing only in the pilot episode and the series finale.
The following year, Chatwin guest-starred as the undercover cop Eddie Colburn on the ABC drama series Lost. At that time, he was attached to star in and produce a film adaptation of Michael Turner's novel The Pornographer's Poem (1999), which was set to be directed by Jeremiah S. Chechik. In 2006, Chatwin made his off-Broadway debut in Trip Cullman's play Dark Matters at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, which is about a dysfunctional family, whose limits are pushed when the mother goes missing and suddenly reappears, talking about strange visions and extraterrestrial life. He starred as Jeremy Cleary, the eccentric, but intelligent 16-year-old son of Michael (Reed Birney) and Bridget (Elizabeth Marvel). The play ran from November 10 to December 22.
In 2007, Chatwin landed his first leading role in The Invisible, a remake of the Swedish film Den Osynlige. David S. Goyer's supernatural thriller centers on high school senior Nick Powell, who is brutally beaten and left in an intermediate state. Chatwin liked the script because "it’s about all these polar opposites – life and death, love and hate – and also about the idea that when you think something is black or white, you might suddenly find that there’s gray to it". The film underperformed at the box office, grossing $26 million worldwide on a $30 million budget, and was also poorly received by critics; John Campea noticed complexity and a "subtle strength" in Chatwin's performance, writing, "nothing really ever went over the top, nor did he ever come off as forced", but criticized the feature for its "lack of depth" and "dramatic tension". Also in 2007, he returned to the stage to act in Jamie Wollrab’s The Mistakes Madeline Made at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder, Colorado. The storyline follows Edna (Shannon Woodward), a young woman who develops ablutophobia, a fear of bathing. Chatwin plays Wilson, the protagonist's co-worker, "with lots of nervous energy, and generates laughs along the way" according to one critic. Next, Chatwin was cast in Middle of Nowhere (2008), a coming-of-age drama directed by John Stockwell, also starring Anton Yelchin and Eva Amurri. The independent film had its world premiere on September 6 at the Toronto International Film Festival, followed by a straight-to-DVD release two years later.
In 2009, Chatwin portrayed Goku in Dragonball Evolution, the first big screen adaptation of the popular Japanese Dragon Ball manga by Akira Toriyama. He described the role as the most physically demanding he had ever played, as he had to train in martial arts and adopt a strict diet with no sugar and carbohydrates. The film was critically panned on release; writing for Slant Magazine, Rob Humanick stated that filmmakers "made no effort to craft a cinematic context in which its mythology can function", while Ross Miller of the Screen Rant considered it "a badly written film with horrible dialogue, lackluster action and a sense of fun that's nowhere to be found". Miller also felt that Chatwin was "completely miscast" as Goku. The feature performed poorly at the box office, grossing $56 million worldwide against a budget of $30 million, as a result, all the plans for a potential franchise were canceled. In the same year, Chatwin teamed up again with Jamie Wollrab for John Markland's three-person play Red Light Winter at the Dairy Arts Center, during Boulder International Fringe Festival. Written by Adam Rapp, the story focuses on two friends, Matt (Wollrab) and Davis (Chatwin), who are caught in a love triangle with Christina (Anna Rose Hopkins), a young prostitute they encounter in Amsterdam.
2011–2020: Television and films balance
In December 2009, Chatwin was filming the Showtime pilot Shameless, an adaptation of Paul Abbott's British series, starring opposite William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum (with whom he also starred in Dragonball Evolution). Receiving the green-light next spring, the 12-episode season began airing in January 2011. Over the course of three years, Chatwin portrayed Jimmy Lishman / Steve Wilton, Rossum's love interest, a car thief who comes from a wealthy family. Chatwin made a brief appearance in the fourth season finale, and returned in the fifth season as a special guest star. The show received mostly positive reviews and Chatwin was praised for bringing "the right vibe of scruffy determination" to his role, doing "an excellent job playing a character you can love or hate from week to week". He was also praised for his "very intense and intimate chemistry" with Rossum. During an interview, when asked about one of show's most controversial aspects, the frequent use of sex and nudity, Chatwin said:
One of the things that attracted me to the project, in the first place was getting past my own psychological barriers of being naked in front of people. We all have it. We’re all afraid ... I think that we come out of such a Calvinistic, religious, repression era, and I think there’s a lot to be said in exploiting our bodies in healthy ways, so that we can towards more liberal, healthy sexual practices. I think this show walks the line with that, and I don’t think it’s gratuitous".
Although during the early years Chatwin starred mostly in studio films, his work in the 2010s consisted primarily in independent feature films. Those usually premiered first at various film festivals before benefiting from a day-and-date release in select theaters and through video-on-demand or streaming services. In 2011, he starred in the canadian film Funkytown, working with Patrick Huard and Paul Doucet. Helmed by Daniel Roby and set in Montreal, the feature follows a group of characters and the events that changed their lives during the disco era. He plays Tino DeiFiori, a young italian dancer who is living a secret life. Chatwin was drawn to the part because he "haven’t danced a day" in his life: "I’m the guy who sits in the corner at the club and doesn’t move". Funkytown was released straight-to-dvd in the United States in 2012. In 2011, he also starred in a short film, Brink, written and directed by Shawn Christensen, who was accepted at Tribeca Film Festival, being nominated at the "Best Narrative Short" category. In 2013, Chatwin made an appearance in the third season of The Listener, and featured in the documentary Isolated, written and directed by Justin Le Pera, about a group of surfers in search of untouched waves. Ryan Phillippe served as narrator and executive producer.
Chatwin subsequently appeared as rock star Bobby Shore in Jeffrey St. Jules' sci-fi musical set in the 1960s Bang Bang Baby (2014), with co-stars Jane Levy and Peter Stormare. Levy stars as Stepphy, a teenage girl who believes her dreams of becoming a famous singer will come true after an encounter with his character, which was based on Vanilla Ice, Justin Bieber and Elvis Presley. Bang Bang Baby won the award for Best Canadian First Feature Film at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, and garnered also two nominations at the third edition of Canadian Screen Awards, for Best Supporting Actor (Chatwin) and Best Overall Sound. In her review, Linda Barnard of Toronto Star wrote that Chatwin "is fun as Bobby", while The Young Folks critic Josh Cabrita thought he "perfectly balances celebrity charm, self-absorption, and wooden caricature". The romantic comedy No Stranger Than Love (2015), with Alison Brie and Colin Hanks, closed the 16th annual Newport Beach Film Festival. He plays a sensitive poet who is looking for an unfaithful man trapped in a black hole. Upon its wider release the following summer, the film received negative reviews, with one critic opine that it has "a whole lot of nothing where there should be metaphor, playfulness, all that juicy, enigmatic, magical-realism". Also in 2015, Chatwin portrayed a troubled man desperate to retrieve his bike in the short film The Cycle, and recorded the audio version of Celeritas, a screenplay who featured on 2014 Black List.
Chatwin starred as a detective who hunts down a breed of flesh eating criminals in the TNT pilot Breed (2015), and also that year, he secured a recurring role in the third season of Orphan Black, opposite Tatiana Maslany and Kristian Bruun. The following year, Chatwin landed the role of cartoonist Cameron Hawthorne in the CBS summer series American Gothic, working with Antony Starr, Virginia Madsen and Megan Ketch. The drama about a white-collar family who suspect that one of its members might be a serial killer, received mixed reviews from critics, and underperformed in the ratings, as a result, CBS cancelled the show after one season. Later that year, Chatwin portrayed superhero Grant Gordon / The Ghost on the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who in 2016 Christmas special "The Return of Doctor Mysterio". The episode pays homage to the comic book films, using also the theme of secret identity, his character being modeled by the screenwriter Steven Moffat as a cross between Christopher Reeve's Superman and Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man. Vulture critic Ross Ruediger praised Chatwin's "splendid" performance.
2016 saw Chatwin appear in four independent films. First was Robert Scott Wildes' western Poor Boy. The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, as part of the Viewpoints section, and received a limited release two years later. Chatwin then starred as free-spirited artist Jason in the Lionsgate Premiere thriller Urge, opposite Pierce Brosnan. The allegorical tale about seven friends who try a new drug that makes people lose their inhibitions, was panned by critics. In her 1-star review, Christy Lemire from RogerEbert.com called Aaron Kaufman's first directorial effort "a movie that’s as empty and unlikable as the characters themselves". The romantic comedy Unleashed, written and directed by Finn Taylor, centers on Emma, played by Kate Micucci, a woman whose cat and dog are transformed into full-grown handsome men (Chatwin and Steve Howey). It premiered and won the Audience Award at the 39th Mill Valley Film Festival in october, with a general release planned for the next summer. The film garnered a positive reception; Los Angeles Times critic Katie Walsh wrote that "Chatwin and Howey are the most valuable players". Frank Scheck of The Hollywood Reporter opined that Unleashed "delivers some mildly enjoyable laughs thanks to its engaging female lead and the exuberantly physical performances of her co-stars". In preparation for his role, Chatwin studied animal movement with Jean-Louis Rodrigue and Kristof Konrad, in order to embody the specific mannerisms and behavior. For his final release of the year, he teamed up with Anna Camp to play a couple who is trying to save their relationship in the time travel drama One Night. Following its premiere at the Austin Film Festival, Minhal Baig's directorial debut was released early next year, nearby Valentine's Day, receiving a mixed-to-negative response; writing for Los Angeles Times, Kimber Myers praised the "solid" performances of the cast, but thought the film "doesn’t develop its interesting concept beyond the initial idea".
Chatwin starred in the Joachim Rønning-directed pilot The Doomsday Project (2017) as Navy SEAL instructor Chris Wyatt, one of the seven brilliant members of a team who is tasked by the american government to dream up man-made disaster scenarios and their possible solutions. Chatwin appeared in three films in 2017, starting with a cameo role as Vincent D'Onofrio's drug-addicted son in the action-comedy CHiPs, directed by Dax Shepard, based on the television series of the same name. He portrayed modern cowboy Hugh Jay Linder in Blake Robbins' The Scent of Rain and Lightning, based on the 2010 novel of the same name by Nancy Pickard. The film which tells the story of a young woman who finds out the man responsible for murdering her parents (Chatwin and Maggie Grace) has been released from prison, made its debut at the Atlanta Film Festival, being acquired for distribution the following year. The feature received a positive response, The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck deeming it "a well-acted, intelligent thriller", while another critic praised Chatwin's "subtle and strong" performance. Finally, he played a supporting role in the independent drama We Don’t Belong Here, sharing the screen with Riley Keough and Anton Yelchin.
Chatwin starred in Crackle’s original movie In the Cloud alongside Gabriel Byrne, in which he plays a computer scientist who develops a revolutionary technology capable to access people's memories after they die. The futuristic sci-fi premiered on the streaming service at the beginning of 2018. That same year, he starred as a rookie detective working on his first major case in the dramatic thriller The Assassin's Code, which screened at the 42nd Cleveland International Film Festival. Chatwin also featured in the ensemble coming-of-age drama Summer Night (2019), directed by Joseph Cross in his directorial debut. The story follows a group of young friends as they make decisions about their future. He plays hedonistic bartender Andy, the older guy in the gang. Following its premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival in the spring, the film opened in theaters that summer. Upon release, critical reception was divided; Los Angeles Times critic Carlos Aguilar called it "mediocre and forgettable", however, The Hollywood Reporter's critic found Chatwin "very funny" providing the comic relief.
2021–present: Subsequent career and upcoming projects
Chatwin began the new decade with the romantic crime film Die in a Gunfight (2021), which is described as a modern version of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Co-starring opposite Diego Boneta, Alexandra Daddario and Travis Fimmel, he plays an unscrupulous stalker loosely based on Tybalt and Count Paris. Although it garnered a negative response, Mae Abdulbaki of Screen Rant opined that Chatwin is "chewing up scenery with gusto and a glint in his eyes" as the film’s villain.
Chatwin will next star as a conflicted police officer in The Walk, Daniel Adams' period drama film based on true events about the desegregation of school busses in 1974 Boston. He is also set to portray Jack Reagan, the father of United States President Ronald Reagan in Sean McNamara's biopic Reagan. Chatwin will lead the documentary series The Rider Diaries, which follows his motorcycle road trips around the world alongside his friends, and is attached to star in the upcoming In the Lost Lands, a fantasy-adventure film based on three short stories by A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin.
Chatwin said many times that his biggest passion are motorcycles. He owns a Harley-Davidson Night Train which he named Charlie Crowe. Talking about the beginnings, he said: "I had bought my first motorcycle after riding a scooter on the Amalfi Coast in 2009. Five years later, and a full blown obsession under my belt, I’m back in Italy standing at the epic Ducati factory", adding, "A perfect day for me is when I wake up and know that all I have to do is ride my motorcycle for the next ten hours in a particular direction".
"Some people like scenery. For me it’s the road. I just look for two-lane roads. Highways will put you to sleep. The other thing I do is ship my bike to wherever my job is. Then my reward after we wrap is that I get to ride home and camp along the way. It’s how I motivate myself to get work."
—Chatwin on motorcycles, 2019
Chatwin has been in many trips with his former Shameless co-stars, William H. Macy and Steve Howey. They have been riding from Los Angeles to Colorado, San Francisco and Aspen, sponsored by Harley-Davidson. In 2014, Chatwin embarked on a trip across Europe with producer Ford Smith and actor Martin Henderson, testing the new Ducati motorcycles.
In order to learn more and improve his skills, in November 2016, over the course of one weekend, Chatwin attended the Keith Code's California Superbike School, alongside actor Nicholas Hoult, motorcycle journalist Sean MacDonald, singer and music producer Albert Hammond Jr. and entrepreneur Jesse Waits. From there, he was invited to test the new AGV Corsa R helmets at Buttonwillow Raceway Park.
In 2017, Chatwin was invited at the inaugural edition of Moto Beach Classic Festival in Southern California. The one-day event was established to promote the moto culture, bringing together artists, bike builders and fans. Chatwin took part at the BMX Boxer Cup challenge against former professional freestyle motocross racer Andy Bell, custom builder Maxwell Hazan and seasoned photographer Preston Burroughs.
Chatwin is also part of WLF Enduro, a community of people from different backgrounds of work, such as teachers, salesmen or construction workers, brought together to ride 200 miles in 2 days every year, throughout Southern California. Their mission is "Unifying riders around the globe with the common passion of two wheels and a throttle". About his decision to join the crew, he said, "This is my hobby. This is my community. This is how I stay happy in a work oriented world. These things are important to me. Because when we die these will be the memories that remain".
No Good Reason (2020)
The American web documentary series was released on the internet on July 29, 2020, and stars Chatwin and Nik Markovina (credited Nik Dean), both serving also as executive producers. The 7-episode documentary centers on Chatwin and one of his best friends, a fellow actor and former model, now the co-founder of Lords of Gastown, a company specialized on clothing and accessories for motorcycles. After a couple of long rides, they decide to embark on the ultimate journey from Vancouver to Patagonia on their motorcycles named Charlie Crowe and Bobby Valentine. From Santiago to Ecuador and Bariloche, the duo visit sacred places and meet interesting people, including indigenous rights activist Nina Gualinga. Chatwin stated that he has always been inspired by Bruce Chatwin, his favorite travel writer. They are not related although they share the same surname. Even though the series was released in 2020, the events depicted in it took place in 2016.
Activism and charity
In 2011, Chatwin took part on a charitable motorcycle ride for amfAR, an american foundation for AIDS research, and was one of the celebrities who attended at "Stand Up To Cancer", a special event and auction established in order to raise money in the fight against cancer, hosted by Jaime King and Nicky Hilton Rothschild.
In 2013, Chatwin joined Beau Garrett, Mark Foster and Kenna on the new edition of Summit on the Summit project, climbing Kilimanjaro. The purpose was to bring attention on the global water crisis and raise money for the people in need. Regarding the cause, he said, "We just need government will to change these things. It’s something I really responded to... everyone in the world should have access to water".
Chatwin was also one of the celebrities who protested against the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. In order to show how the future could be for the environment, he starred alongside Amy Smart in Keystone Horror trailer.
In 2017, Chatwin teamed up for a special ride with Vancouver-based motorcycle company "Lords of Gastown", and charitable organization "Waves for Water", which is dedicated to provide clean water for everyone who needs it. Riding across Central America, the goal was raising money in order to purchase and install clean water filters for the communities living in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. Chatwin is also one of the Canadian ambassadors for Operation Smile.
Chatwin still resides in Los Angeles, California, although he has considered moving many times in the past.
Chatwin is an advocate of the nomadic lifestyle. When not working on a film or a television show, he is always on the road, stating, "The anatomy of restlessness is what my fascination is. The nomadic instinct I will call it. And the need of constant movement". In these trips, he is joined usually by Ombú, a Uruguayan street dog which he adopted in 2016.
Chatwin describes himself as being a shy person and having difficulties living in U.S.: "I've always been shy speaking in front of people maybe because I've never felt like I cared about show business or other things I had to talk about. Or maybe I'm shy because I don't really feel comfortable in my own skin in America".
Having a passion for extreme sports, he used to snowboard when he lived in Canada, during the high school years. One of Chatwin's favourite activities is spearfishing. He also loves film photography. More recently, Chatwin has developed a passion for truck camping and mountain biking.
Awards and nominations
|2015||Canadian Screen Awards||Best Actor in a Supporting Role||Bang Bang Baby||Nominated|
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