More to the Story: Charles W. Harris III
By Taylor Harrington 3/29/2021 6:30pm EST
Charles W. Harris III is an actor out of Philadelphia, where he was born and raised. Charles took a few acting courses during college and during one of these courses, he was asked to be a security guard extra in one of his classmate’s short films. Charles told his classmate, “I don’t know how to act, but I’ll do it.” The new actor sat down and spent 10 to 15 minutes going over the lines and already had them down perfectly. He was quickly moved from playing the extra role to the lead when the original actor could not be on set that day and Charles was so quickly able to memorize the lines.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Charles says that there is a great community of actors there that are flying under the radar. The Glass actor told Confessional Magazine that having a background as a law enforcement officer was key to him landing a speaking role in Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson film Glass. Originally he was not in the position to be speaking, but Charles noticed that something in the scene wasn’t the way that a security guard’s interaction would be in real life, and Bruce Willis told him that they would now be getting into a scuffle, and Charles was given his lines.
Charles, how did you get your start in the film industry?
Oh, man. That’s a long story. Ten years ago now, almost eleven, a friend of mine was making a film and he asked me to come on board as a security extra. I’ve done security so I thought this should be easy. I didn’t know how to act, but I decided to do it. When we got to set, the lead actor, which was a police officer at the time, had some type of emergency where he couldn’t be on set. He didn’t show up so my friend the director was like, Alright, we got to keep the ball rolling. Anybody? Can anybody memorize lines quickly. He’s like, bro, come here. Memorize this. So I sat in a corner, looked at the script for ten or fifteen minutes, and I had the whole thing down pat. He’s like, yo, alright, you got it. So it turned from me being an extra to being the lead actor. Once that project came out, it was getting so many good reviews and everything like that. Different directors and producers started inquiring about my acting. So you know, it’s started like that.
After that first experience were you all in on acting?
Not totally at that moment. At that moment, it was it was more so fun. When I started looking into it more and taking it more seriously is once I started getting picked up on bigger films and was able to network with bigger actors.Being able to sit in the same room, sit across from them, and even have dialogue during films, it was like yo, am I really doing this? Even if you’re an extra, you’re making at least $150 a day and you’re not doing anything, so the money is good. I’m growing a network and I’m getting to be up there in front of all these different people and I love the attention.
What would you say was your first big film break?
Stomp the Yard: Homecoming was one of the bigger names.
What was it like to be on set for that film?
It was dope. I felt at home. I’m in a fraternity as well, shout out to my brothers in Iota Phi Beta Fraternity Incorporated. Basically, it took me back to college, I had fun and enjoyed it. Just being able to, you know, be a part of that. It was pretty dope.
What’s the audition process like when you are new to the industry?
I want to get to the top and you get there by giving it your all. Maybe you’re not the right fit for that lead role, but they could be looking at you for something else. So instead of me just trying to sign up to be an extra in the background, no, I’m going for the top. So if I’m not good enough for that lead role, maybe I’m good enough for the third on the list.
If you could pick any actor to play next to you as the lead, who would that be?
That’s a hard, hard question. I don’t really have just one individual, I would like to work with a lot of different people. I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside with Samuel Jackson, Bruce Willis, and Michael B. Jordan. There are so many folks so it’s kind of hard to just pick one, but of course I would love to work with Denzel (Washington). My nickname is Chuck Washington, so hey Uncle Denzel, when you see this, lets work!
Where did you grow up, Charles?
Born and raised in West Philadelphia.
How is the theater and entertainment scene in Philadelphia?
We’re under the radar, but Philly we has so much talent down to musicians, actors, actresses, everything like that. We are talented people here, we just need that opportunity. We’re not big like New York, Atlanta or LA, but we have a strong community atmosphere, a small community, but we work.
Most people think of New York City, or Los Angeles for the entertainment industry, but now, all the money’s in Atlanta.
That’s why I’m trying to move there in a couple of months before the years out. There are so many opportunities out there right now. So many different productions, everybody is filming there currently.
What was your background in before you started acting?
Back in school I wanted to be a forensic specialist. That quickly changed once the science part came in. I became a law enforcement agent, not a police officer, for our transportation system down here, where we collected money and transported it back and forth. SWAT uniform, all that good stuff. Once acting came into my life, my career has been about just that, because I love it.
Did your background in law enforcement help you land any roles? I know you played a cop in the hit Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson film, Glass.
My background actually helped me get that part. When I was on set I was noticing certain things they were having the law enforcement characters do, and from being in the field, I knew they weren’t doing it correctly. I spoke up about something. The director was like, Oh, you’re right. You’re right. How did you know that? I told them my background in law enforcement and they said, now you’re with him (Bruce Willis), you’re escorting him into this scene. At the time, I had dialogue in parts of the movie but for this scene in particular, I was supposed to be walking in while he is handcuffed, take him to his cell, take the cuffs off, and then give him another dialogue where I tell him, Don’t act up, we hear you and you don’t want this trouble. Coming through the door calmly, it just didn’t seem right being who his character was, you know? Look, if I’m arrested and I’m coming into this institution, I wouldn’t be real calm. So he was like, why don’t we actually kick the door open, I’m gonna give you a tussle, and we’re gonna have some words. You’re saying some words.
What was it like leaving set that day?
Oh, it was amazing, man. To be real it is a great feeling but, in my mind, we’re all just coworkers. I don’t get starstruck. I’m just like alright, let’s get this work in. It is definitely a pleasure working with certain people, but we’re in the same career. They might be in another tier, but we’re in the same career. So it’s basically like, you got the boss, the supervisors and just the regular employees. I’m just a regular employee right now, you know, but one day I will be a great manager. It was a bittersweet moment when I realized I’m really doing this. I never imagined even thinking about becoming an actor, and look what happened. You know the saying, “God works in mysterious ways?” …I’m just rolling with his punches.
For the last few years, Charles has been working on his own short film, Going Home, which is dedicated to telling the story of his Father’s journey as a veteran, the power of family, and the importance of a father’s love. The film currently has a Go Fund Me and can be found at www.gofundme.com/goinghomefilm. The full interview can be found below and on our YouTube Channel, as well as everywhere podcasts are available.
As always, 25% of all income received by Confessional Magazine through donations and elsewhere will go directly towards Felicia Merritt’s battle with Multiple Sclerosis. https://paypal.com/ConfessionalMagazine