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COMMENT





Chris Jericho changes his spots
Pro wrestler Jericho ventured into music and is now acting
By SCOTT ZERR - Edmonton Sun




Chris Jericho's career has taken some interesting turns.

In the world of professional wrestling, Jericho has grappled in broken-down bingo halls in front of 500 rabid fans and drop-kicked opponents in main events before 60,000 screaming spectators.

As he ventured into music, it was virtually the same. On some nights, his band Fozzy played in front of 50 beer-swillers in a grungy club. But there were also occasions when Jericho was belting out songs to 20,000 metalheads on the festival circuit.

And now as an actor, Jericho is starting out small again. He has a starring role in the play Opening Night, although it's just a modest three-night run in July in the 200-seat Studio Theatre of Toronto's Centre of the Arts. In Opening Night, Jericho plays Jack, a man juggling the importance of a night of theatre with his wife on their anniversary and keeping track of the score of a big game.

Just as he was under the tutelage of Stu Hart when his wrestling career was launched in 1990, Jericho became a student again when he put his focus into acting.

"I can do a match in my sleep because my skills are so honed, but to me nailing a scene in class is just as exciting," said Jericho during a break from watching the Stanley Cup playoffs at his home in Tampa.

Jericho, the son of former NHLer Ted Irvine, spent eight months in Los Angeles taking acting classes and honing his craft just as he had done in Hart's famous Calgary "Dungeon" -- just without the bumps and bruises.

He must surely have been at the top of the class, considering the depth of talent he showcased during his long run with World Wrestling Entertainment. During his Hall of Fame-worthy career, Jericho cut some of wrestling's best promos, complete with perfect facial expressions and rapier wit.

Taking those abilities to the stage seemed like a natural progression.

"Acting is a big part of wrestling," said Jericho. "In the ring, you play this character and you have to get across to the fans the idea that you're selling. The acting in wrestling is often pretty campy and there are a lot of bad actors, so it was different for me going to class and studying all these scenes.

"One day I'd be a 45-year-old salesman in Glengarry Glen Ross and the next I'd have to portray a pedophile. It was all about showing different traits. Acting comes from within. It has to come from emotions."

Rather astute for a relative newcomer to the art. But many wrestlers have deemed their calling an art as well, so Jericho should feel right at home expressing himself under this new spotlight.

While Opening Night sees Jericho in a comedic role, his preference seems to be with more serious material.

"Comedy is pretty natural for me, but I would like some deeper roles," he said. "But I don't really want to look for anything in particular. I just want to become a better actor and I'll get better by learning and continuing to grow. I'm sure I'd work well in a Hollywood action but I just want to learn this new craft."

Jericho's apparent passion for study would seem to indicate that a return to the wrestling ring is not in his foreseeable future.

He currently has a weekly stint hosting The Rock of Jericho on XM satellite radio. There's a return engagement with the Groundlings improv group last week, and his appearance in the SciFi Channel flick Android Apocalypse will air next month.

And on the horizon will be the completion of his biography, A Lion's Tale, regaling stories of his early years in wrestling.

"It's a stranger in a strange land, coming-of-age story rather than just about wrestling," he said. "It's a great travelogue. Like the story about getting mugged at gunpoint in Mexico and left for dead at the side of the road.

"I don't feel I have a hole in my life (without wrestling). I watched WrestleMania this year and that was really about the only time that I've missed it. I wouldn't mind coming back at some point.

"I never said I wouldn't be back. Depending on the situation, I would look forward to some day being back in front of the fans. I had a lot of fun being in the band. It was a blast playing in front of people, but there is nothing like being in front of a crowd in the ring."

RELATED LINKS

  • More on Chris Jericho
  • Chris Jericho's website
  • SLAM! Wrestling Movie Database