PHOTO BY DAN PITRE, FAMILY THEATER PRODUCTIONS
CANADIAN-BORN ACTOR Chris Kramer credits
his faith life—and his promising career as
an actor—on one unfortunate blessing: a
wicked bout of insomnia. He recalls a period
of his life when he was 22 years old and
living in Vancouver, British Columbia—jobless, directionless, crashing on a series of
Sleep was elusive in those days. Peace of mind,
even more so. But from this particular stint of wakefulness
came two awakenings: He was desperate to
reconnect with God, and he was determined to succeed
as an actor.
“I didn’t have any real focus other than wanting to
be an actor. I was depressed, away from family, probably
steeped in sin,” he says.
“When I was a kid, I used to pray Hail Marys to fall
asleep. That night I did. And I fell asleep. I continued
to do this more and more, and a kind of peace came
into my life and I started to get some desire again.”
And though Chris, now 33, is thrilled with the trajectory
of his career and is eager to discuss the joys of
being on-set, working with actors and directors, contributing
to thoughtful and thought-provoking entertainment,
he’s just as happy discussing the aspect of
his life that really drives him: his faith.
Chris uses it to navigate the sometimes precarious
roads of the entertainment industry.
Disciple First, Actor Second
Chris Kramer’s interview with St. Anthony Messenger was done in two parts. The first took place during the
2008 Catholic Media Convocation in Toronto in May;
the second was during a phone interview the following
Minutes into both our conversations with Chris, his
two great passions become evident. When asked about
his blossoming career, Chris becomes visibly excited.
“There is nothing like being on the set. It’s a thrill;
it’s a job that I absolutely love,” he says. “It allows me
to play and use my imagination. And so much of
acting is using your imagination. It’s a lot of fun.”
But when talking about his Catholic faith, Chris
becomes more centered, calmer.
“I think, first and foremost, I am a disciple of God.
Second, I’m an actor who is trying to inspire people.”
And Chris’s opportunities to inspire are growing. In
case you aren’t familiar with him, consider his credentials:
TV’s 24, Saving Grace, The Twilight Zone and Jericho.
He has shared the small screen with actors the
likes of Holly Hunter, Kiefer Sutherland and Skeet
Ulrich. He’s also worked in independent films such as
Stellina Blue in 2008.
In his native Canada, Chris had the lead role in The
Collector, a series which is syndicated in 66 countries
worldwide. The television show’s success propelled
him to move to Los Angeles and pursue his dreams in
But Chris isn’t one to digress about his résumé or
career ambitions for long. Weightier matters, like faith
and family, consistently break the surface of conversation.
Both, he asserts, have aided him on the journey
he is on today. But it hasn’t been a smooth one.
For as long as Chris can remember, he has wanted to
be a dad. Little wonder: When asked about growing
up in Regina, Saskatchewan, Chris, who’s single,
glowingly speaks of his father time and again.
“I had so much fun with my dad growing up. He
inspired me. I want to be able to have kids someday
and be a dad to them as well,” he says.
With his father in construction, Chris and his older
sister, Amy, moved around frequently. Over time, he stopped going to Mass and fell away
from his faith.
“My parents were having problems.
They stopped going to Mass so, obviously,
as kids, we stopped going,” he
says. “They started enrolling us in public
schools. And the friends that I had
didn’t talk about God or go to church.
I lost any sense of the religious lifestyle
and thinking about God.”
After Chris’s parents divorced, he
lived in Vancouver, but he felt powerless
to repair his life and fortify his faith.
He wanted to be an actor but was finding
little success; he wanted to unlock
the door to his faith but lost the key.
Again, he turned to his father for help.
“My dad had come back to the
Church about eight months before this
and he was telling me I needed to go
back to Church. I resisted but, within
a couple of weeks of praying Hail Marys
every night, I started asking questions
about the faith. That prompted me to
go back,” Chris says.
“As I drove back to Calgary one weekend,
I was driving through the mountains.
I was the only car on the highway
and it was a beautiful day. I remember
looking out to the sky and the mountains
and thinking, God is here. And
this overwhelming sense of joy and
peace came over me and I just started
sobbing all the way home,” he says.
Chris started devouring books on
Catholicism and spirituality. He began
praying the Rosary daily, going back
to Mass and partaking in the Sacrament
of Reconciliation. Healing soon
His career, too, began to take shape.
Most actors in Hollywood can speak
of “the lean years” before finding a
groove in their careers. Chris Kramer
survived his own by serving in restaurants,
hanging drywall and working as
a concrete cutter. After a work injury
forced his father into early retirement,
Chris again found himself at a crossroads.
“My dad couldn’t work. He didn’t
have a lot of money. And I just remember
praying. We needed help in this situation.
And a month later I landed the
lead character in The Collector and it
basically changed everything,” he says.
In The Collector, which ran from 2004
to 2006, Chris played Morgan Pym, a
time traveler and advocate for people
who bargained their souls to the devil.
Each episode tackled a different case.
Morgan is given 48 hours to prevent
It was heavy material. Chris saw the
irony of the character’s troubles and
his own faith journey.
“I thought it was funny: Just a few
years earlier I had come back to the
Church and now I was in a series that
involved God and the devil and the
choices we make,” Chris says with a
laugh. “It was a great opportunity. I
got to travel around the world with it.
And it allowed me to help out my dad.”
After The Collector ended, Chris
moved to Los Angeles for better opportunities.
In a town with more actors
than there are parts to play, Chris has
nevertheless been able to find steady
work. His faith, which steers his choices,
can sometimes inhibit him from accepting
“When I look at a project, I look at
what it is they’re promoting. If it’s just
something that I’m totally against, then
I won’t even audition for it,” Chris
“I’m a Christian first and foremost
and that has to guide my entire life. I’ll
always talk to a priest, let him know
what the role is about, where the character
is going and see if there is some
sort of redemption involved.
“I recently did a movie called Out of
Control for the Lifetime Network,” Chris
continues. “My character is a crooked
cop who isn’t guided by a moral compass.
But in the end there is some
redemption for this character. I always
make sure that there is some good to
the project I’m working on.”
Father Wilfred Raymond, C.S.C., executive
director of Family Theater Productions,
a film, television and radio
production company in Los Angeles,
met Chris about five years ago
when he stumbled into the
priest’s office with a friend.
“Father Willy” admires the
depth of Chris’s faith and knows
full well the temptations that
surround him in the industry.
“Mainstream Hollywood has,
in my opinion, a lot of good
people working in it. But many
of them have to hide the fact
that they’re Christians or practicing
Catholics,” Father Willy
says. “There are a lot of very good people trying to work in this
industry and trying to make a difference.”
But Father Willy is wise to the realities
facing young actors such as Chris.
“It’s a culture that isn’t always
friendly to living a moral life. That’s
putting it mildly. But I know a lot of
actors, like Chris, who have standards
and who will not compromise. I think
they earn a certain amount of respect
for upholding those standards.”
He believes that such a rigid foundation
of faith and principle makes Chris
an ideal role model for young Catholics,
particularly those who stumble on their
“Chris is like 90 percent of young
people. At some point they have to go
through a period when they put aside
the faith that their parents gave them,” Father Willy says. “It’s just a natural
thing to say, at one point, ‘I’m an adult.
Do I really believe this, and is this going
to be the framework that shapes my
“I think it’s helpful for young people
to see that this is a normal part of
maturing in your faith, maturing within
your heart and in your mind and spirit.
Chris is a good model—someone who
went through a very difficult struggle to
get to where he is.”
Father Willy has high hopes for
Chris, both as an actor and as a person
of faith. “My hope for Chris, on the personal
level, is that he continues to grow
in his faith. We’re all on a journey. But
I can see incredible development in
him,” he says.
“Professionally, I think Chris will
do very well. He’s highly disciplined
as an actor, which is deceiving because
he seems very casual and laid-back,”
Father Willy says. “I think he’s just
waiting to be discovered in a big way.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he breaks out
in the next year.”
And Chris is ready for it. Being in
such close proximity to stardom can be
daunting, but he stays focused, primarily
because of his devotion to the
Rosary. It’s been a constant in his life for
as long as he can remember.
“My dad used to pray the Rosary
over my bed when I was three years
old,” Chris says. “It was one of the
means that brought me back into faith.
To this day I still pray a daily Rosary.
“Prayer is basically a conversation,”
Chris says. “It’s just like any relationship
that we have on earth. With God or
with Mary or any of the saints—you
need to spend the time with them.”
Although Chris Kramer is concentrating
on his acting career, his ambitions
are multi-layered. He and several friends
have recently started a production company
in the hopes of developing material.
He’s exploring writing and
directing as well.
And although his dream is a Jason
Bourne-like film series, Chris is content
with where his career is right now
and where it’s headed. Regardless, he
will remain focused and faith-filled.
“Because we are made in the image
and likeness of God, we’re supposed
to strive after perfection. So in everything
we do, whether work or play, we
are supposed to do with the attitude of
trying to do it perfectly,” he says.
That very faith is what gives Chris
purpose, and it is what has saved him.
“My faith has really changed me. It
has changed my whole life. It has
changed me as an actor, changed me as
a friend, as a son, as an uncle, as a
brother. It changed every part of my
Being so grounded in the faith will
surely provide a base from which to
grow and develop as an actor and a
So if you haven’t heard of Chris
Kramer, sit tight. You will.
CHRIS KRAMER seems a restless
spirit. Though he can talk
openly and widely about the
faith, he prefers to put that
faith into action. His affiliation
with Family Theater Productions
has been a good fit.
Family Theater Productions, a Catholic,
Hollywood-based media production
company and member of Holy
Cross Family Ministries, has worked
with Chris on quite a few projects. And
it’s been a fulfilling partnership.
Chris, who attends daily Mass there,
was the moderator of the “Faith Bowl,”
a roundtable discussion of athletes and
actors about living the Catholic faith
amid the trappings of celebrity. It was
televised in February of 2008.
Other participants included Milwaukee
Brewers’ pitcher Jeff Suppan, Carolina
Panther Chris Horn, former
Olympic softball player Lauren Bauer,
and actors Matthew Marsden (Rambo)
and Eduardo Verástegui (Bella).
Chris also emceed the Rosary Bowl,
which Holy Cross Family Ministries
sponsored, in May of 2007. The event
drew tens of thousands to the Rose
Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.
Father Wilfred “Willy” Raymond,
C.S.C., executive director of Family
Theater Productions, sought Chris for
“Father Willy came to me about two
weeks before the Rosary Bowl and asked
me if I would lead the Rosary,” Chris
says. “It was such a blessing and such
an amazing experience.”
Ever humble, Chris has also done
far less visible work for Family Theater.
Father Willy praises Chris’s lack of ego.
“A lot of people would see certain
jobs on the set as beneath their dignity,
but Chris is out there with a paintbrush,
he’s carrying extension cords
around and applying masking tape and
all that stuff,” Father Willy says.
“It’s great to see someone like that
who is not at all worried about his dignity
and then he can go sit in a chair
and be a star.”
Chris’s most recent work with Family
Theater Productions was as a featured
celebrity—and assistant director—for a DVD called Rosary Stars: Praying the
Gospel, which features 21 young-adult
Catholic celebrities offering personal
reflections on the Rosary and its role in
their lives. The program had its premiere
screening and product launch
on February 7 in Hollywood.
Celebrities who participated in the
project include actors Matthew Marsden
(Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,
Rambo); Samia “Sam” Doumit (CSI:
Crime Scene Investigation); Immaculée
Ilibagiza, author and survivor of the
1994 Rwandan genocide; and professional
baseball players Jeff Suppan and
Mike Sweeney, among others. Each
celebrity reads reflections on a particular
mystery and leads a decade of the
More information can be found at
www.FamilyTheater.org. The launching
of this project is in observance of
the 100th anniversary of the birth of
Family Theater Productions’ founder,
Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton,
C.S.C. The theme is: “Honor his memory.
Continue his mission.”