“We stay pretty busy,” he adds.
When not acting or casting, Freihofer is busy in another crucial industry mission. He offers quality acting classes at The Actor Factory in Norman. The class instructors are among the best available. Would-be actors have the opportunity to sharpen their skills while learning from industry pros.
But what about Friehofer’s desire to live and work in the Sooner state? Most people in the film industry feel pressure to migrate to the West Coast. However, the 1981 OHS grad has proudly made an incredible mark from his base in Oklahoma.
“I live in the middle of the country and I get to work (in the movie industry),” he said. “It’s bizzare ... and I love it!”
Another bonus is working with some of the biggest names in entertainment. Friehofer was a deputy to Hal Holbrook in his first feature film, “Eye of God.”
Tim Blake Nelson later cast him as assistant coach Jeff Jeffries in the movie ‘O.’ The role put Freihofer beside Hollywood heavyweight Martin Sheen, who played the head coach in the movie.
Freihofer has worked with Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, James Cromwell, Josh Brolin, Johnathan Banks, Edward Norton, Delta Burke, Connie Britton, Keri Russell, Danica McKellar and Heather Graham.
After reflecting on his fast-paced life, Chris Freihofer admits he’s busy man.
Busy alright. Busy living his dream.
AT A GLANCE
(movie and TV acting credits)
• Parkland - (Phil Chamberlain)
• Secrets of a Psychopath - (Lt. Harris)
• Higher Mission - (Tex)
• Leaves of Grass - (Doctor)
• ExTerminators - (Department Store Man)
• W. - (Evangelical 2)
• Return to Sender - (TV Reporter)
• American Indian Graffiti: This Thing Life - (Antwoine)
• O - (Assistant Coach Jeffries)
• Eye of God - (Les Hector)
• Breaking Bad - (Dan Wachsberger)
- Gliding Over All
- Say My Name
- Hazard Pay
• Army Wives - (Martin Keen)
- Hearts & Minds
• The Deep End - (Board Chairman)
- Nothing Personal
• Friday Night Lights - (Jake Reisen)
• Wildfire - (Smith)
• Prison Break - (Agent Montana)
- The Message
• Inspector Mom - (Donny Haskins)
- The Haunted House Horror
• Walker, Texas Ranger - (St. Louis Desk Officer)
- Lazarus (2000)
• Ruffian - (Saratoga Guy)
• The Year Without a Santa Claus - (Sparky's Attorney)
• Inspector Mom - (Donny Haskins)
Stefanie filled out the online information. She then had a friend take a picture of her from my iPad. She submitted her entry on-line.
“Then, since I had nothing to lose, I went to check out the speaking roles,” she said. “When I got there, the casting agents said that the speaking roles had been taken, but they were only for men anyway. I thanked them and was getting ready to leave and they asked if I wanted to sign up to be considered for a non-speaking extra role.”
She explained that she had already applied on-line and probably did not need submit another application.
“They said to go ahead and sign up again anyway,” she said. “So I filled out the paperwork and they took a picture of me.”
As she left to casting call, she was given an information sheet with the name of the production on it. She was also given general information about the project. Each person was told to not contact the casting office. If an actor was cast for a role, the person would be contacted.
“Once I knew the name of the production, I started following the news on it,” she said. “I did not hear anything for a couple of weeks and had given up. Then on Friday evening, January 25 the casting agent called and said I had been cast as Lady Bird. What a surprise!”
Her next step came on Monday, Jan 28. She went to a wardrobe fitting session and hair and make-up consultation.
The OHS graduate was now ready to join the cast when filming began. She ended up on the set for a total of 4 days during the shoot. The site for the work was a studio in Austin Studio, where Stefanie worked from Tuesday through Thursday.
“We filmed the swearing-in ceremony on Air Force 1 on Tuesday, Jan 29,” she said. “It was the iconic arrangement with Lady Bird on one side of LBJ and Jackie on the other.”
Most of well-known actors had not yet arrived yet, so Stefanie enjoyed the perk of her own dressing room trailer. She admits having the ‘star treatment’ with her own dressing room was so much fun for a ‘non actor.’
“When the real actors and more extras came the next day, Lady Bird lost her dressing room. She quickly became just an occupant of extras holding area.
On Wednesday, Jan 30, Stefanie was in full costume and on location all day. However, she was not called to the set - except to watch other actors shoot the scene of the president’s casket being carried up the steps and into Air Force One.
“That was in the afternoon,” she said. “That morning, however, they shot the crowd scene at the parade.”
Stefanie was back again on Thursday, Jan 31 and had a lot more fun.
“We were in our respective cars (the LBJ car was a convertible with the top down) racing to the hospital after the shooting,” she said of her scene. “I know I sound so naive, but I was surprised there was someone there occasionally between takes holding an umbrella to shield Lady Bird from the sun.”
Later that day, the director shot the scenes of LBJ (actor Sean McGraw) and Secret Service men running into the hospital from their car. The next setup was of Lady Bird (Stefanie) and her SS men running to the hospital.
The Okmulgee native then had a brief break in filming. However, she was back on the set the following week for additional acting work.
“I reported on Tuesday, Feb 5 to shoot scenes at the Austin Hospital,” she said. “It was (a scene) of us running in the hospital to the ‘safe’ room. With all of the running I had done the previous week and then this, by the end of the day my poor vintage shoes simply gave out.”
In one take, one of her shoes just tore apart.
“It flew off my foot and was left behind while we continued to run down the corridor shooting the scene,” she said. “It was getting late in the day. Wardrobe (workers) tried to tape it, but it just wasn't working - so finally they had to get me a different pair of shoes. Actually, if there is fear on my face during these shots, it's because I was petrified of throwing a shoe again - and not necessarily because Lady Bird was supposed to be scared in real life. Talk about a wardrobe malfunction!”
Stefanie was thrilled that her time on the set provided her a chance to bump into some of the stars of the movie.
“The day we were shooting the car scenes, one of the cars was the ‘Billy Bob (Thornton)’ car,” she said. “One morning when I was in make-up and hair he came in. One afternoon when I was getting out of make-up and hair (getting my wig removed) Zac Efron was in the trailer, too. There were a couple of times when I was in hair and make-up with Jackie (played by Kat Steffens) and JFK (played by Brett Stimely.”
Like all good things, Stefanie’s time on the ‘Parkland’ set came to an end. She was having so much fun that she was not thrilled when time ran out on her Hollywood-style dream.
“It was over and back to the real world,” she said. “Those 4 days were so fun. The really easy part was that I just got out of bed, showed up in the right place at the right time. My clothes were ready and my make-up and hair were done for me.”
She was delighted with the cast and crew on the project.
“The people were great,” she said. “Everyone spoke so highly of Lady Bird. One of the other extras told me how LBJ helped his grandmother get electricity.”
Stefanie recently had the opportunity to see the completed version of ‘Parkland.’
“I saw the movie at the Paramount Theater in Austin, before it officially came out,” she said. “It was a fundraising event and thank-you for the use of the Austin hospital. The director was there and had a Question-and-Answer forum. Someone asked (him) about scenes that did not make it. He said that because he was trying to keep the film to about an hour and a half, that he was not able to use some very good scenes.”
There is a good chance the deleted scenes will be included on the DVD when it is released.
“Maybe when the DVD comes out, Lady Bird will be in the director's cut,” Stefanie said.
Looking ahead, the Okmulgee graduate said she is eager to work in more movies. Her role as Lady Bird was a rewarding experience. She hopes to land future roles in upcoming movies filmed in Dallas and Austin.
By HERMAN BROWN
Okmulgee Times editor
The recent release of the movie ‘Parkland’ includes two Okmulgee High School graduates.
The Okmulgee Times recently published a feature about actor Chris Friehofer’s role in the feature film. The 1981 OHS graduate was cast as a Kodak lab employee. His character was sought out by the Secret Service to develop the Super 8 color film from Abraham Zapruder’s video camera. The film was the only footage recording as President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
The movie ‘Parkland’ focuses on the events unfolding in the hospital after the fatally-wounded president arrived there on November 22, 1963.
As it turns out, Chris Freihofer was just one of two OHS graduates who worked on the film. Stefanie Bone Medack is a proud member of the Okmulgee High School Class of 1972. She is the daughter of Wynelle Bone and the late Roger Bone. Stefanie is also a graduated of Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. The current Texas resident recently spoke with the Okmulgee Times about her work on Parkland. It is the third movie she has worked in as an extra.
For Stefanie, the experience was more powerful because she still remembers – clearly – the actual day the President was gunned down in Dallas. News of the shooting was reported almost instantly on TV and radio stations everywhere. Students at Horace Mann Elementary School in Okmulgee found out about it very quickly.
“My recollection of the day President Kennedy was shot was being in class,” Stefanie recalls. “One of the teachers, Velma Dorrer, came to the room visibly shaken. I don't remember what was said; I just remember her reaction to the tragic event.”
The nation went into mourning over the death of President Kennedy. Time would pass, but those who were alive in 1963 would never forget the national tragedy. Stefanie was reminded again 50 years later when she won a minor role in the movie ‘Parkland.’ She was cast in the feature film despite her limited experience in the field of acting.
“In high school, I was in a couple of acts in Finley's Follies,” she said. She also competed in speech tournaments as one of the Dogs of Speech.
“I worked on the Haunting of Hill House and most likely it was with props,” she said. “As far as the adult world, I had no acting resume to speak of.”
Stefanie did do some stage work in local plays.
“In the early to mid 1980s I worked props and had a very small onstage nonspeaking role in ‘A Little Night Music’ at Zachary Scott Theater. She also volunteered to work with props on ‘The Mikado’ at the Paramount Theater.
“As far as a movie extra, I was a spectator in the ‘Big Green,” she said. “I can see myself in the bleachers if I look really hard.”
The Okmulgee native also worked as an extra in a movie about (young murder victim) Adam Walsh.
“I was in a crowd scene shot at the Capitol,” she said, “but it ended up on the cutting room floor.”
Her next entertainment assignment came in the Fall 2012. It would be a church production - which is about as far from Hollywood as you can get.
“I was asked to be in charge of 50+ costumes for our church's Christmas pageant,” she recalls. “Mind you, I don't sew, even to replace buttons, and I don't iron.”
Luckily, Stefanie was blessed with wonderful committee members who could sew. The group turned out amazing costumes for the pageant.
“I think God's way of thanking me for accepting the challenge of the Christmas pageant was to give me the role of Lady Bird Johnson in ‘Parkland.’ Although it was a non-speaking role, it was an honor for me to have been part of the production.”
Stefani admits the “Lady Bird” role came about in an odd way.
“I did not answer the traditional casting call,” she said. “I routinely receive emails from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) with job announcements. I have never seen anything other than your traditional office/sales rep/business type jobs. This posting was for speaking and non-speaking roles in a movie. It did not specify the (name of the) movie. The posting instructed those seeking non-speaking roles to apply online and provide a picture. For speaking parts, you had to go to a certain TWC office on a certain date.”
By Herman Brown
Okmulgee Times editor
Chris Freihofer is a busy man these days.
He’s busy living his dream.
The former Okmulgee resident is currently on the big screen in the movie Parkland.
Parkland is a drama that unfolds on Nov. 22, 1963 - the day U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. The script “weaves together the perspectives of a handful of ordinary individuals suddenly thrust into extraordinary circumstances.”
One of the individuals in the story is Phil Chamberlain. He is a worker at a Kodak lab in Dallas. Friehofer was cast in the role of Chamberlain. The current Norman resident discusses his role in the movie.
“When the Secret Service learns that Abraham Zapruder has Super 8 millimeter film of the assassination, they try to find someone that can develop it,” he said. “And because Super 8, at the time, was very new technology there was only one person in the city of Dallas that could develop that film. It was Phil Chamberlain. I play Phil Chamberlain.”
Freihofer’s role puts him in scenes with two incredible actors.
“Paul Giamatti plays Abraham Zapruder,” Freihofer explains. “Billy Bob Thornton is Forrest Sorrels with the Secret Service.”
The characters played by Giamatti and Thornton come to the lab seeking help with the biggest crime in U.S. history - the assassination of the president.
“I develop the Zapruder film and then we screen it,” he said. “We set up a little projection room in the lab and watch it with Zapruder and other members of the Secret Service - seeing the assassination for the first time. It is the only photographic evidence of the assassination (of President John F. Kennedy).”
The Okmulgee High School alumni was on the movie set filming for 3 days.
“I worked a lot with Paul Giamatti and a little bit with Billy Bob Thornton and some other actors who played Secret Service agents,” Freihofer said. “It was such an honor to be included in the cast, not only the actors I got to work with but the director and writer Peter Landesman. He had an amazing vision for the project and he was so fantastic to work with. It was such an honor. There are so many familiar faces (in the movie).”
While fans are just now seeing Parkland, Freihofer has already watched it. He was invited to a cast and crew screening of the film in Austin, Texas, about 6 weeks ago.
Freihofer enjoyed his work on Parkland. He also had a wonderful time working on the ultra-popular TV drama series Breaking Bad. He was cast as seedy attorney Dan Wachsberger, who was paying off the criminals with regular visits to a bank safe deposit vault.
Freihofer recalls how he ended up with a coveted role on the show.
“It is unreal,” he said. “My agent got me the audition opportunity. We just auditioned in my office (and) e-mailed the video like I do on some. Five days later I was on a plane to go be on this show. I hadn’t seen it before (laughs) so I quickly watched the pilot. But I didn’t know what was going on when I go to do this thing. But I knew everybody said it was brilliant. After coming back, we started watching it and getting caught up on Netflix. A few weeks later I get called to go do another episode. I was blown out of the water. I didn’t realize I was going to be back. When I went back and met with one of the producers she said they liked what I did and re-wrote some stuff and put my character in (again) and it popped back up.”
He appeared on three episodes: Gliding Over All, Say My Name and Hazard Pay.
“It is sureal because critics are calling it the greatest drama ever on television,” he said. “To be a part of it is so strange. To be living in the middle of Oklahoma and I’m on it.”
Season 5 of Breaking Bad won the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series . Freihofer’s episode ‘Say My Name’ was nominated for an Emmy for Directing and Writing. Even better, the episode he worked in called ‘Gliding Over All’ won the Best Editing Emmy.
Chris recently saw the cast and crew again during a special screening in Los Angeles. He was invited to attend a fundraiser event for the final episode of the show.
“Aaron Paul’s wife, Lauren, is a co-founder of The Kind Campaign,” Freihofer said.
“They raised $2 million by selling tickets to the screening with cast and crew. Jimmy Kimmel was there and most of the cast was there. There was a little talk-back afterwards. They invited us up on stage to take a (group) picture. To get to go do what we did last week was great!”
Freihofer’s link to the show has been a blessing in many ways.
“Breaking Bad is opening some doors for me that I thought had closed,” he said. “It’s cool. One of my friends is Charles Baker, who plays Skinny Pete on the show. He has a MUCH larger role than I did ... but he was saying it (Breaking Bad) completely changed his life because there is this huge respect for the show and respect for everyone on it.”
To be one of those cast for a role has stunned the veteran actor.
“There are thousands and thousands of actors in LA who would kill to be on that show,” he said. “Somehow I luckily got on it. I am happy to get paid doing anything they want to pay me for.”
Friehofer is also awaiting release of the feature film ‘Secrets of a Psychopath.’ The movie stars Kari Wuhrer, Mark Famiglietti, Mia Serafino and Ty Fanning.
The Okmulgee actor was cast in the role of police officer Lt. Harris.
“I worked for about a week on that thing,” he said. “It’s a major supporting role.”
The feature film was shot in Austin earlier this year.
“It’s by legendary filmmaker Bert I. Gordon,” Freihofer said.
Gordon has produced, directed, and written more than 25 Sci/Fi and Horror features. According to his published bio, he also directed comedies such as ‘How to Succeed with Sex.’ His film, The Food of the Gods, was awarded the Grand Prix du Festival International Du Paris Fantastique in 1977.
“He’s in his early 90’s,” the actor said of Gordon. “He did some cult classics from the 1950’s through the 70’s. He did ‘Empire of the Ants’ and ‘The Amazing Colossal Man’ and stuff like that.”
For the actor, the work on the movie brought back wonderful memories of his youth.
“It was a lot of fun (to work for Gordon),” he said. “When I was a kid, I loved staying up to watch Plenty Scary Movies - a weekend TV show featuring classic scary movies.”
When not acting, Freihofer attends to other important work in the movie industry. Wanda Freihofer’s baby boy is Oklahoma’ leading casting director.
His phone almost always rings when a feature film ramps up production in the state. He is the only Casting Society of America casting director in Oklahoma.
In a related note, Freihofer is getting excited about the upcoming Christmas 2013 release of ‘August, Osage County.’ The film stars Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper and Ewan McGregor.
He was hired to cast all local principle and extra roles for the movie.
Since then, more casting work has followed for the Freihofer Casting.
“We did ‘Lights from the Darkroom’ recently,” he said. “And we are working on two films right now -“The Veil” and “You Can’t Win.”