Exclusive interview with Chai Hansen

June 14, 2017 | With Ilian on Season 4 of the postapocalyptic show "The 100", Chai Hansen landed his first role on American television and quickly turned into a fan favorite. We had the chance to ask Chai a few questions about his acting career, his experiences on “The 100” and his future projects.

Foto: Chai Hansen
Chai Hansen

Note: © myFanbase 2017 - The interview is exclusive to myFanbase and may not be published on other websites or the like. You may share the first two questions (up to 180 words) if you link back to this site. Translations other than English and German may be posted with full credit including the link to this site.

Deutsche Übersetzung des Interviews. | German translation of the interview.

With Zac Blakely you played your first lead character in a series. How much has your life changed since you were cast for the role in "Mako Mermaids"?

It has changed quite a lot actually from my first role as Zac in "Mako". I have travelled the world for work and I couldn't be happier or more proud of what I have achieved so far. I am constantly trying to strive to reach my potential as an actor, but that would be similar in anything. As you continue to grow and achieve different goals you grow mentally and physically. I feel I have become quite a strong individual from experiencing the things this industry has to offer. As actors, we are problem solvers trying to overcome obstacles / adversity and portraying flaws and weaknesses as well as strengths in our own unique way. I’m constantly trying to find new ways to portray characters on screen and having these opportunities that I have had so far I appreciate greatly and I run with them.

After three seasons on "Mako Mermaids", which is aimed at children and teenagers, what was it like to film a comparatively dark series such as "The 100"?

It was quite the experience going from not being able to do or say anything naughty to the first scene of "The 100" just casually killing my own parents and siblings, haha. Just like anything though I took it on board and ran with it. I do remember struggling to hold the knife at first; there was a tube that ran up the edge of the knife that I had to squeeze to release the blood as I cut my characters brother’s throat in the first scene. I wasn’t experienced at doing that so I had to go for a few takes, haha.

Could you please tell us a little bit about the casting process for your role as Ilian on "The 100"?

The audition for "The 100" was most probably the BEST audition I have ever done. I was living at home with my Mother at the time, feeling a bit down and out, I decided to really put 110% focus into everything I did. I read and researched random things and I stumbled across an amazing book by Eckhart Tolle. After reading "The Power of Now" I completely let go of the pressures and expectations of needing to achieve anything, just stayed in the moment and appreciated what is. I know this sounds a little bit crazy and the skeptics will have their reasons of doubt but I truly feel it had influenced all my work from that point on in such a positive way that when it came time to doing the audition I was just ever present and I let the beats really hit home.

On Twitter you said you cried watching "Inside Out". Which emotions would you say were primarily in charge of your mind’s Headquarters filming Season 4 of "The 100" – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear or Disgust?

That’s a difficult question to answer. As Chai, I’m always going through mixed emotions which could be possibly 3-4 different emotions at a time, haha. But for Ilian it would be constant Sadness with Joy sneakily following closely behind to make sure Sadness is ok. I really feel for Ilian as he is so misunderstood. I really wanted to tell more of his story but to me Ilian lost everything when he lost his family, and eventually found hope when he met Octavia. She was something else to live for and to protect. Metaphorically speaking he always classed Octavia as a beautiful glowing flower, something to admire from afar but to never pick. He could see she was hurting from a past love which is constantly haunting her so he couldn’t do anything but protect her from either the threats of war or even herself.

Your character Ilian interacted primarily with Octavia. How did you like working with Marie Avgeropoulos and which other of your fellow actors would you have wished to have some more screen time with?

I really enjoyed working with Marie. She is very, very professional. Actually at times intimidating (in the best way possible). Her approach to every scene is so intense so I naturally had to bring intensity to match her performance. It’s not easy to do as I’m not as experienced as her or have the confidence she does. I think all the stuff that I shot with her was possibly some of my best work. I’ve always believed an actor is only as good as their counterpart.

Since Ilian is part of Trishanakru of course he spoke Trigedasleng. How hard was it for you to learn your lines in this fictional language?

Learning Trigedasleng was one of the funniest parts of this job for me. I absolutely love learning languages, I mean it does frustrate me but I also love it, haha. So tackling this language was just one of those things I had already done when trying to learn Japanese or Thai. You have to understand the alphabet first and the sounds of the alphabet spelling each word out phonetically. It takes practise but when you get it it’s quite satisfying. In the end it’s similar to learning a song; you can recite it whenever wherever and then give it your own meaning.

On one hand, Ilian was a skilled warrior. On the other hand, growing up on a farm he was very connected to nature and a peaceful way of life. Are there any aspects that you and your character have in common?

I think there’s heaps of things Ilian and myself have in common. I’d like to think that in some alternate reality where Ilian and myself existed we’d be great friends, I think about those things sometimes, haha. I feel the things we have in common would be the way we put our love and trust in people easily, also the love in our surroundings and environment ESPECIALLY the love of animals. I made sure that whenever Ilian saw an animal I had to show it love. Everytime Ilian walked past Octavias horse he showed admiration and love to it. Chai is definitely no warrior, so I feel this is where we differ as Ilian would probably kick my arse, haha.

Foto: Chai Hansen
Chai Hansen

In #4.10 Die All, Die Merrily you had some fight scenes und played a heartbreaking death. Did you do all your own stunts and what retained especially in your mind from that shooting?

That was a great episode to be a part of. I couldn’t be prouder as an actor to go out in that episode as it was SO epic, haha. We had a couple of rehearsals coming up to episode ten. It’s where I met Curtis Braconnier, one of my favourite human beings on this planet, haha. He is one of the most talented stuntmen I have come across and I don’t say that lightly or often as I usually love everyone equally, but Curt is on a whole new level, haha. He doubled me in that fight and I couldn’t be more stoked to have someone of his calibre join the Ilian team, haha. I really look up to him. Curtis did a lot of the stunt so I can’t take credit for it but what I did I thoroughly enjoyed.

"Fürchte nicht den Tod, jener ist nur der Beginn der nächsten Reise." - This is the German translation of the Trishanakru-saying "Do not fear death, for it is only the beginning of the next journey." You offered your German Fans in a video to talk to you if they see you on the street and teach you some German. Has anyone used this opportunity or do you like to share another story with a fan?

As I said in a previous interview I ALWAYS love it when I am approached on the street to say hi or to tell me what you thought about the shows I have been on or anything about my character, haha. It always makes my day to think that I have affected or influenced the audience in a way. I always appreciate any feedback as I do this for you guys and girls, so if you ever see me, PLEASE come say hi, I love meeting new people.

The filming of your new project "The Legend of Monkey" started in Auckland recently. "Journey to the West" has often been adapted; is there a work that you maybe like especially? And please tell us something about your Monkey-Version in the series.

I am so very proud to be a part of this special gem of a series. "The Legend of Monkey" revolves around a monk who is escorted by 3 fallen gods, Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy, to retrieve sacred scrolls in order to bring light back into a dark world. Very similar to the book, which I absolutely adore, Monkey is quite naughty and I’d say classed as a bit of an antihero. He doesn’t really worry much about anything but himself which makes it interesting as one of the journeys in this story for Monkey is self-discovery and a road to humility, which I think he will eventually get to, but quite a way away still, haha.

Earlier this year you apologized on Twitter for not tweeting as much. How difficult is it for you to keep in touch with your fans through social media?

When you are filming a series or film the pressure of the project does eventually get to you as the workload becomes overwhelming, so there are times when social media isn’t really on my radar. I do love reaching out to the people who take their time to respond to me and my work and it means the world to see positive tweets and constructive criticism. It helps me grow. I apologise to all the people I haven’t responded to yet, keep tweeting me and I will eventually get back to you, haha. Please don’t think I am ignoring anyone on purpose. I would love to be able to respond to everyone, haha.

Since myFanbase is an online magazine about U.S. television shows, we would like to know what your favorite shows are?

Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Suits, Breaking Bad, Family Guy, The Simpsons, sooooooooooooo many… I wish I had time to watch them all, haha.

Thank you so much for making time for us, Chai, we wish you all the best for your future!

Sina Behling & Charleen Winter - myFanbase