John Chambers, the actor, writer, director, producer and videographer who is one of the creators and creative forces behind the Web TV series Infamous was born in Shreveport, Louisiana on December 6, 1977. While attending Shreveport’s Caddo Parish Magnet High School, he took part in community theater in the Shreveport/Bossier area of North Western Louisiana.
His father and grandfather were gifted storytellers, which inculcated a love of the oral tradition and drama in the young John. It’s a love affair that has never ceased. His father was very supportive of John’s decision to have a life in the theater, a dream that was nurtured by theatrical pros and others in the thriving Shreveport/Bossier arts community that he remains a part of.
An Actor Prepares
John Chambers took an associate’s degree in broadcast telecommunications at Bossier Parish Community College (Bossier City, Louisiana) and degrees in broadcast journalism and theater arts from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. He developed his acting “chops” at Northwestern State, where he learned not only acting, dancing and singing, but all of the technical aspects of the theater, including directing.
In addition to theater arts, John studied journalism at Northwestern, an intellectual and professional discipline that has grounded him in life as it is lived. It is there in his work on Infamous: an embrace of the ordinary, gritty life that people exist in, including the comic book-style superheroes of Infamous.
The influences on his acting style were eclectic, beginning with his family and midwifed at university by Dr. Jack Wann, who not only taught him the full spectrum of theatrical life — from classical drama to the practical business of making a living as an actor — but became a life-long friend.
Other influences on his craft were the comic actors John Belushi and Danny DeVito, those legendary avatars of American machismo John Wayne and Clint Eastwood (Chambers is a big fan of combat choreography and Infamous features many battles royale), and Jack Lemmon, the great American actor who was adept at both comedy and drama. Another influence was the Emmy Award-winning character actor Pruitt Taylor Vince, a fellow Louisianan and a friend. The two friends co-star together in the Web TV series Infamous.
Chambers is well established in the Shreveport/Bossier-area theatrical community, appearing in regional and community stage productions as well as in movies filmed in the state of Louisiana, which has established itself as Hollywood South. He recently appeared in a production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado.
His portrayal of the psychic Solomon in Infamous is one of the best reasons to watch Web TV, as the medium finally comes of age. In creating Solomon, Chambers claims Leo McKern as Number 2 in The Prisoner was a major influence. Like McKern, the Australian actor who played British characters such as Rumpole of the Bailey, Chambers displays impeccable comic timing while maintaining an everyman quality that is essential to the mise en scene of Infamous.
His Solomon is a bravura performance and is the anchor of the show, which is about extraordinary beings who are down-at-the-heels and living at the end of their tether, trapped in a rather “ordinary” world that includes mind-reading, “scanning,” dematerialization, and the transubstantiation of the dead to go along with genetic engineering and corporate-mandated assassinations, both attempted and realized. (Thank the gods of sci-fi for those regenerative powers!)
Filmed in Shreveport, John Chambers is outstanding as the ringmaster of this three ring circus that blends aspects of X-Men with the early David Cronenberg. (Is he the ringmaster? Solomon is certainly the eye of the hurricane, but the appearance of “The Patriacrch” played by Pruitt Taylor Vince, a psychic like Solomon but his “superior” in powers and the one person he is afraid of, foretells a shift in power dynamics in Season Two.)
As one reviewer of the series has said, when the Batman franchise considers the casting of The Penguin (played so memorably by one of John’s heroes, Danny DeVito, in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns), it couldn’t do any better than casting John Chambers. He is that good. He is an actor who deserves bigger and more prominent parts that will showcase his talent and energy.
In addition to acting, John Chambers worked as videographer for KSLA Channel 12, the CBS affiliate in Shreveport. He still freelances for CBS as a regional producer. Stories he has covered include the Columbia Shuttle Disaster and the evacuation of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.
John also works in the electronic press kits/behind the scenes videos for many films that are shot in Louisiana.