The Underdog: Alex Charak
Digest: How do you feel about getting this far?
Charak: I’m stunned. It’s an amazing opportunity and it feels incredible. So yeah, I’m relieved. But watching INTURN now, I get nervous flashbacks.Digest: How did you originally find out about it?
Charak: Through Backstage, like anything else. My friends and I make movies together and my friend just got all this new equipment so I said, “Do you mind testing out the equipment so I can do a scene?” And then I got the phone call to come in and it kept growing from then.Digest: When did you first start watching ATWT?
Charak: I had watched it every now and then, but once I started to get more involved with INTURN, I began to watch it more and more and read up on it. Definitely now I try and watch it as much as I can, but it was always difficult because I was still in school.Digest: You said on your CBS questionnaire that your favorite character was Casey No. 4. Do you know Peter Vack?
Charak (laughs): I know him as Peter Brown. We went to French Woods [Performing Arts Summer Camp] together and he was a good friend of mine. I haven’t seen him in awhile, but I thought if he saw that he’d get a kick out of it.Digest: What surprised you the most about doing the reality show?
Charak: I guess I could have done a little more research, because I had no idea what was going to happen. I didn’t want to expect anything or get my hopes let down. I was sitting back and whatever happened, happened. I had no preconceived notion about what was to happen, so I was just there to have fun and do my thing.Digest: On the first day, you got stuck in the bunk bed jumble. What was that like?
Charak: I went to a camp for a lot of years, so I’m used to the packed-in-like-sardines atmosphere. But it was fun. Some people, it was nice to get to know more intimately, some more than not, I guess.Digest: Who were you closest with?
Charak: I would say Meg because our personalities were similar and she seemed pretty laid-back. It was easy to talk to her and hang out. You can’t really do that with some of the other people.Digest: What was the most difficult challenge?
Charak: I guess the crying audition, only because it was out of context for me. I made it personal, but I feel like it would have shown more to the judges and audience if it was done in a scene and they were going a certain direction, but it was so specific that you had to cry.Digest: Which one did you most enjoy?
Charak: The improv with the trunk. I like improv a lot. That’s probably one of my strengths, so I tried to have fun with that.Digest: Michael Park said that you were too nice to strategize. Did you see anyone else attempt to sabotage others?
Charak: Nothing that dramatic, thank goodness. But I could definitely see that some people were trying to get in the heads of other people. I knew this was a reality show and I did come in with a strategy. In the beginning it was just to lay low and let them fight with each other [laughs]. And then I realized I’m here for who I am so I might as well have fun with it and let the cards fall where they may.Digest: How did you feel about the Screech comparisons?
Charak: I actually figured that was a good thing, because Ian was kind of grouping me with the nerds. So I’ll get, I guess, the “nerd vote.” Not the demographic that people are usually concerned about, but…. It was funny. I hadn’t heard that one yet. I shouldn’t say never, but I’m not really perceived as a nerd. But I guess in comparison to all these other beautiful guys, the guy with the glasses…. I don’t know, it was interesting. I was going for it.Digest: And then you won the push-up challenge.
Charak: Yeah, poor Ian and his confidence [laughs].Digest: You would probably fit in well with the teen scene. That could work to your advantage.
Charak: Thank you. When I was working with them, we had chemistry and off-screen we just had fun. It definitely felt like we were a good match.Digest: What was your most embarrassing moment?
Charak: They probably won’t use it because it’s so strange, but after being locked up in there for two weeks, I started to lose my mind a little bit, like when they put astronauts in those chambers for like 40 hours to see if they’ll go crazy. But I was wearing the robe that I always wear, and I was hot but I didn’t want to take off the robe, so I put bags of frozen french fries all over my body [laughs]. I hope they don’t use it. But maybe I’ll get the frozen french fry demographic, too. Digest: The Ore-Ida fans! What was the best thing about the loft?
Charak: The whole thing was really cool; the loft was this wonderfully divine thing. I’d never stayed in a place like this. The Brooklyn pizza was nice to have.Digest: Speaking of, are you still a delivery guy?
Charak: I had to take a leave of absence [laughs]. I try to make it sound as professional as possible. I wanted to make sure I had time for the end of the competition. Now I’m making a movie with my friends, so I want to film that. I’m going to college soon. Digest: What do your friends think?
Charak: They love it; they’re just as addicted as I am. Digest: Have you always wanted to act?
Charak: I started acting and singing when I was 9 or 10 because my older sister acts. I did it because I wanted to be like her, and I guess I got serious maybe three years ago. I devoted myself to it. I was also a musician, so I was trying to decide what I wanted to do more. Digest: You’re from New York, right?
Charak: Long Island, born and raised. Digest: Where are you going to college?
Charak: New York University in the fall. Digest: So you could do both if you win?
Charak: Yeah [pauses]. I really hadn’t even thought about that. My whole mentality for this INTURN thing has been, “If something happens, it happens.” Which I guess isn’t that great of a strategy being that I didn’t think that anything would happen and then they called me and I missed my high school graduation. I don’t even want to think about it because I don’t want to get my hopes up for anything. If it happens, I’ll have to deal with it then.Digest: What’s your Raven Lake character like?
Charak: My character is named Alex and he’s supposed to be a big nerd. I don’t know if there’s any connection to me. I’m a geek, one of those guys who’s just trying to fit in and have fun. My mother packed me up and I was ready to go with a whole pharmacy in my jacket. [The location shoot] was really cool, to hang out with the cast and crew. They’re all business down there. You’ve got to know your stuff. It was very professional and a fun atmosphere — something I could definitely see myself doing. Digest: If you do win, who on the show would you want to be paired with?
Charak: I guess I would want to be the nerd that Jen Landon cheats with. Is that too specific [laughs]? If I do get this contract, whatever character they give me, I’ll have a good time with it.Digest: Why should people vote for you?
Charak: I guess I could really only say that they should vote for me if they like what they’ve seen and they’d like to see me more. Or more than Ian and Geneva. I hope it’s not like the lesser of the three evils when it comes down to it [laughs].
The Underdog: Alex Charak