He's a Big Shot

 

Jeff Chase plays two roles in the new Star Trek film. But the roles aren’t as big as the actor who plays them.  




Jeff Chase

Jeff Chase’s break into acting came
when he landed the role of the
German airplane mechanic in
Walt Disney World’s Indiana Jones
stunt show

As you watch the new Star Trek film, keep an eye out for a certain Romulan character and a space cadet of indeterminate alien origin. Both are played by Jeff Chase.

Chase donned heavy makeup for those roles, but he might not be too hard to spot. The 41-year-old actor is 6-foot-7 and weighs 280 pounds.

J.J. Abrams, who directed Star Trek (set to open May 8), notes that there’s more to Chase than meets the eye.

“A lot of times you think a guy that size is sort of a big, dumb guy and you’re not going to get much from him,” says Abrams, who has also cast Chase in Mission: Impossible III and on Alias. “But the truth is that he is a very capable and talented actor who gives you great range and elevates whatever it is you’re doing.”

Those two Star Trek roles—there was actually a third (a Klingon) that ended up on the cutting-room floor—are only the latest credits of the gentle giant.

Chase’s resumé also includes The Rundown (with The Rock) and The Punisher, as well as guest shots on such shows as Chuck, Monk, Scrubs and Burn Notice. One reason he keeps so busy is that he also does stunt work.

“It’s rare to find someone who’s a genuinely good actor and also a genuinely good stunt person,” says Abrams. “Jeff is one of that rare breed.”

Born and raised in New Jersey and now living in Clermont, Chase did not set out to be an actor. When his wife, Kimberly, took a catering job at Walt Disney World in 1998, the couple relocated to Central Florida. Soon he found work with the Mouse, too, as a restaurant manager.

One day, thanks to Chase’s size, someone suggested that he try out for the German airplane-mechanic role in Disney’s Indiana Jones stunt show. He got the part and was soon auditioning for movie and TV roles in Miami and Los Angeles.

One of his most memorable roles—for him, anyway—was on Showtime’s Dexter. Last October, he played a scene in which he lay bound and gagged as Jimmy Smits plunged a knife into his chest.

Naturally, a retractable blade was used. But in one particular take, Smits apparently forgot that he was holding a real knife meant only to be displayed in close-up. Smits, Chase recalls with a wince, brought it down hard.

Fortunately, the knife hit the edge of a small piece of acrylic placed on Chase’s chest to provide minimal protection against the blow of the retractable blade. But the incident—which made the tabloids—was way too close for comfort. Still, he doesn’t hold a grudge against Smits.

“He’s a great guy and I’m sure our paths will cross again,” says Chase with a chuckle. “Maybe I’ll get to stab him.”

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