Charlie Weber photographed by Clinton Gaughran for TheBacklot.com
Last night actor Charlie Weber turned up on Warehouse 13 as Liam Napier, who we discover is the former boyfriend of gay warehouse agent Steve Jinks (Aaron Ashmore). That was more than enough excuse to grab the handsome Charlie for a photo shoot in Los Feliz, California. We also spoke with Weber about his guest role, his former career as a male model, his very memorable stint on the fifth season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and more!
The Backlot: We’re talking to Charlie Weber of Warehouse 13, and my first question is just what makes you think you’re good enough for our little Jinksie?
Charlie Weber: [laughter] I don’t know that I am. I think that’s why he left me.
I don’t know, I think the episode kind of bears out that you weren’t the problem.
Oh, no. Circumstances around his new job are the reasons we didn’t work out. Apparently given what we went into with our conversations we had a pretty good thing going before he was tapped to work for the crew.
One of the things that struck me is that you’re both federal agents, and Jinks is obviously fairly reserved, but you came off as fairly reserved as well. Does that work in a relationship?
I don’t know. I think you need to have things in common, but for me, finding someone who has things you don’t possess is always a good thing, to fill gaps in your own self. But we were both like-minded individuals given the jobs that we did, and that’s probably how we ended up together.
Of course for viewers who haven’t seen it yet, you are a U.S. Marshall working a case that the Warehouse team shows up for. When you two meet, it’s awkward to say the least. Is that easy to do when you’re new on the set and meeting your ex for the first time?
You try to put yourself in that place and play that emotion. We’ve all had that moment when you bump into an ex, and it can be a pretty disturbing thing. But Liam, U.S. Marshall, has a job to do, and so he deals with that awkward moment when Steve is suddenly there. My character is busy with a case, and has a job to do, and he’s just trying to move forward with the case when his ex is there.
This being Warehouse 13, Jinks can’t really tell you why he’s on the case, and that reticence feeds into the way that you two broke up.
Exactly. Just one day, he was gone. And now he won’t even tell me what he’s doing, which is why he left in the first place. It’s frustrating.
Weber (left) with Aaron Ashmore in Warehouse 13
I’m going speculate that our viewers are going to be upset at the lack of physical affection between you and Steve, but in a way, it fit the characters, didn’t it?
It really does. When I read the script, nothing was omitted. They were in a serious relationship, and there’s a lot going on with the case. To bump into each other in this situation, there’s so much going on with these two people, emotional turmoil, I think it worked nicely the way we shot it.
I quizzed Jack Kenny about the final scene with you and Aaron as the case is wrapping up, with police and ambulances everywhere, and I was convinced that there was a hug between the two of you that ended up on the editing room floor, and he assures me that that wasn’t the case. But you guys played it like there was a hug. Did you choose to play that.
We did choose that. It was a nice moment between two people who have a past. We suddenly got each other and why Jinks did what he did, and we’re in a better place now. It was a nice moment when everything wrapped up.
Except it’s not wrapped up. Have you seen the completed episode?
I have not.
I don’t know if you were on set for it or not, because there’s the final scene back at the inn, and we find out that you hooked up with Steve.
You weren’t aware your character had a one night stand with his ex?
I don’t remember that. I wonder if they read that or if they threw that in. I don’t know.
You had a really, really good goodbye is the way it was put.
[Note: We asked EP Jack Kenny about it, and he says that Charlie might not have read the scenes he wasn’t in, because the hookup was in the original script.]
Now Warehouse 13 isn’t the only thing you’ve done. One of your biggest roles was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Ben on season five, who had quite a relationship with Buffy. You were demon possessed.
That’s right. Glory, the villain of that season, lived inside of me, and she found a way to get out, and that was the source of the mayhem that season.
What was your relationship to Buffy?
We sort of danced around a romantic relationship but it never came together. Buffy wasn’t capable of killing me because I was a human being. Glory lived inside of me and was able to get out, but I was able to get her back in. So when Buffy is beating Glory up in that last scene, I get Glory back in and turn back into a human being, and killing a human being isn’t something that she’s capable of doing being the hero that she was, which is why Giles had to step in and kill me.
Which made you just one of the many elements of the high body count that show racked up over the years.
It did rack up quite a body count.
What’s it like working on a Whedon show? I’ve interviewed several actors who worked on his shows, and they all say it’s like no other show they’ve worked on before.
It is, because it takes place inside a complete world he’s created. One the coolest things is that there is this set on the west side of Los Angeles that you could go and it was Sunnydale. You walk in, and you were in Sunnydale, stages, exterior scenes. So you went to work in this world that Joss created. Despite there being no rules in the world of sci-fi, it was an experience to go work in that complete world he created.
Jane Espenson, who worked on Buffy, once said to me that when you work with Joss, it’s all about the character, he says “What’s the Buffy of it?” It’s not about a plot line, it’s about the character interactions.
It’s true, it’s all about the relationships.
Now one thing I’m curious to ask about is that you were an Abercrombie model. How long ago was that?
I did the Christmas catalog 1998. It was a fun one. It was in August, in upstate New York, that came out in November that year.
And you were on an elephant?
Well, in the catalog I think it changed. In the original shoot, I was naked on an elephant with a girl, and that was a two page spread in Vanity Fair. It was a controversial ad because it was two naked teenagers on an elephant and at the bottom said Abercrombie & Fitch, but there were no clothes to be seen. Beautiful shot though.
But for the catalog I think they wanted to use an older girl. By older, I mean the girl they brought in was about 20, and we reshot it on a different elephant. The shot that ran in the catalog ended up being just the girl. But the shot of me naked on an elephant with a girl only ran in Vanity Fair.
Charlie Weber pictured front left in Abercrombie & Fitch advertisement
I’m assuming as a young model, working on an Abercrombie catalog is a charged atmosphere. It’s basically a clothing catalog about naked people.
Yeah, pretty much. The one I did, there was plenty of nudity, certainly on my part. There were some that came on the heels of the one I did that were even more naked. But we did wear clothes some of the time.
This was Bruce Weber shooting it right? While I’m aware that models get naked all the time, but as a young model, does this not seem strange to you? In 1998, these catalogs were fairly new in the style they were doing.
That was right at the beginning when Bruce took that over and really changed the landscape of Abercrombie.
So do you look at your agent when he books this and go “Are you serious?”
No, not really. I’ve always been very comfortable with my body and I didn’t think anything of it. I did the underwear part of the campaign that year which I loved doing. I loved that shot on the elephant, I think it’s such a cool thing to look back on and say that I did. I think one of the reasons that people become a model is a certain comfort with nudity and what you look like. I was never uncomfortable with that.
It always seems like it’s one step away from being a giant brothel.
Well, that’s the fine line between art and being, well, that.
Of course, I know you have a young daughter. What if she wants to be a model or an actress?
I will support it if that’s a decision she comes to me with as she gets older and she really wants to pursue one of those things, I will support her. I’ve been doing this since I was 19 so it would be hypocritical of me to not support her if that’s what she wants. She’s only 8 now, and I want her to have as normal as possible childhood, but she’s starting to hint around that she thinks what I do is pretty cool. But we’ve got some time, because it’s hard enough for me to get around to do everything I’ve got to do, so 16 is the absolute minimum so she can drive herself, because I’m not driving her, she’s going to be able to get herself there.
Would you let her do Bruce Weber Abercrombie?
We’ll see where her personality takes her. Because that kind of thing isn’t for everyone. But I do admire the artwork of photography. But I feel far enough removed from it now to be discussing it, but when the decision came, I have to feel I might be pretty uncomfortable.
Bruce is art.
Absolutely. If it was Bruce Weber, something of that caliber, I like to think I’d support it, because my parents supported me in everything I did, and I’d like to give her the same opportunity.
Coming back to Warehouse 13, was this your first gay character?
I don’t want to say, well, it was my first job where my character had substance to it that was openly gay. My first job ever, my first Hollywood gig, was one line in Greg Berlanti’s movie Broken Hearts Club, which was a gay movie in the late 90s. I had one line. Andrew Keegan played a young closeted gay guy who comes out to his circle of friends, and my character has this one line after a party, and it’s almost a glimpse of Andrew’s character in the beginning, you’re kind of revisiting that. With one line, it was hard to establish a character, but the idea was that I was this young guy who would be coping with coming out much like Andrew’s character did. But I would say that this [Warehouse 13] is my first gay character, yes.
I’m always curious about that. And it’s nice that these days actors don’t even blink to take these roles.
No, not at all. When I read the script, I loved the character Liam. And as a gay character for me, it was about approaching Liam through his job and his relationship with Steve, not that I’m playing a gay character. I’m playing a complicated man, a U.S. Marshal, who happens to be gay rather than playing a gay character who happens to be a U.S. Marshall.
I think some of the joy we’ve had out of Steve is that he’s gay, but that doesn’t play front and center. He was never closeted, but he was a character first, and he “came out” when Claudia hit on him. It’s there, but it’s not about him being gay. It’s the new paradigm for gay characters on TV.
I really love that that’s the trend now. I just watched Behind the Candelabra last week, and I thought Matt Damon, not that I’m putting myself anywhere near that caliber, but I thought that was how he managed to play that role. He made that similar choice to play this young man who just happened to be gay, rather than this gay character. I thought it was a brilliant choice.
I was pleasantly surprised with that movie. I was expecting to be horrified. Before Warehouse 13, were you a fan of sci-fi?
I love sci-fi. Love living in sci-f. I’ve done Buffy, I did Charmed once, it’s just great to live in this world where there are no rules, it’s a lot of fun to be in that place.
I’ve gotten to talk to everyone on the show over the years, and everyone tells me how the show is a family both on and off the screen. And you walked into that family that Jack writes in all of his shows as the ex, and you were completely embraced by for lack of a better term, the in-laws. Did that seem odd?
My character Liam had to work a little bit for it, especially with Myka. But it was cool, but that’s a reflection of what they’re like off screen. And as an actor I was immediately embraced by everyone. I think that was what helped translate that onscreen. Very warm, open on and off screen.
How does it feel to be the gay version of Pete, or Eddie?
I loved that part of the script. So funny. Eddie and I made a lot of jokes about our chins all through the filming.
You’ve been hard at work on 90210 as well.
We just wrapped up a couple months ago.
That’s another iconic show. You’re not exactly a household name, but you’re a working actor, but the work you get, looking down IMDB, it’s all pretty amazing.
When I look at the TV I get to do, I’m really flattered when I see the list of shows I’ve been on. It’s been an honor to jump on some of these iconic shows. I don’t know if it’s been by design or just luck or both, but it’s something I’m very, very proud of.
A few Warehouse 13 questions. What artifact, or the artifact effect would you want?
Teleportation would be really awesome. The ability to just jump from place to place would save me a lot of driving. I live in Santa Monica. I travel a lot for work and pleasure, and the ability to just be there would be great.
What else do you have going on?
Well, I just wrapped up with 90210, and finished voice work on a video game coming out this fall. I took a few weeks to myself. I just spoke to my manager for the first time in a few weeks about taking some meetings. That’s how my world works. I take the characters and I focus completely on that until it’s over, then I look to the future once I’m done.
I’m amazed at those of you who can do that. I can’t imagine not knowing when the next paycheck is coming.
I know. I don’t know why I’m like that. I have friends who are actors who audition endlessly, even when they’re in the throes of a character. I like to take this person, be this person until that’s over, then start thinking about what’s next. I like that uncertainty.
We had the sad news that Warehouse 13 is coming back for a final six episodes. It’s not much time, but if they asked you to come back to play Liam, would you do that?
Absolutely. I had a great time. And I think that if they had been given a ten episode run to wrap that up, I think that would have been possible. But with six episodes, I think they’re going to have to focus on those core four characters. But who knows?
Looking at your filmography, you’ve been on a ton of great shows with some amazing actors, Reaper, House, Buffy. Was there an actor you worked with that really surprised you?
I’ve been so lucky that I just walked on set after set with just such welcoming actors, and that’s great because you hear horror stories. But I remember having to do a very emotional scene on CSI, and at the time, CSI was the #1 show, 30 million viewers each week, absurd numbers, you would think that if there was one set there would be big egos, it would be that set. But I had this one emotional scene across from Jorja Fox. She was so gracious and open and warm, it helped me get to where I needed to be. I remember that vividly. They shot me first, she was so patient. I had to excuse myself from the set for a moment, and she was so open to what I needed as an actor. Here I was just a guest spot, and she was a regular on the #1 show on television, and she was focused on making me comfortable.
You may be the only actor who has done all three CSI shows. You resume is vast, I keep seeing shows I loved, Everwood, Veronica Mars, which is coming back as a movie.
I originally tested for Jason Dohring’s character, which obviously went his way, but they kept looking for a way to bring me on the show. And one day they had this character that no one knew what to do with and they let me try it, and it was such a great show.
Charlie, I really want thank you for taking time to talk to us, and I want to say that I really did enjoy your character Liam on Warehouse 13. I want to go on record as saying yes, you are good enough for our Jinks.
That means a lot. That’s a tall order to be good enough for him as much as the fans love him. I’m glad you think I did a good job with him.
Below, check out our exclusive photo spread with Charlie Weber!