Michael Chernus has been popping up in movies and TV shows for years. He’s one of those guys you recognize when you see him in something, but you can’t quite put your finger on what you know him from. Until recently, that is. If you didn’t know him from The Bourne Legacy or 2013’s Captain Phillips, he’s probably familiar to you from your weekend binge session of Orange Is the New Black, where he plays Piper Chapman’s brother, Cal (you know – the “edging,” guy?)
Peruse his IMDB page and you’ll find Chernus playing roles in films like Love & Other Drugs, Men in Black 3, and The Messenger. On the small screen, he’s done HBO’s Bored to Death, played Pastor Rick on The Big C, and even showed up in an episode of Law & Order SVU. Here’s what Chernus had to say to Vulture about playing the chief mate in Captain Phillips, a film that required all of the actors to be confined to a real container ship each day for the duration of filming:
For every one of us, there was an actual real second. All of us had a Maersk merchant marine who was actually operating the ship. So not only did I have to research the real Shane Murphy, and the events of those days, I also had to know everything that a real chief mate would do on a merchant marine ship. So it was very helpful to be able to ask the actual merchant seaman what he would do in any situation. It was tricky, because it was an all-Danish crew. Paul would be like, “Find out what you would be doing an hour before you depart from port,” and I’d go to Christian, who was the real chief mate, “So, the crew’s getting ready, we’re about to pull out of the harbor, it’s going to be a long trip, what would you do?” And he’d be like [in a Danish accent], “Ah, they would know what to do. I would do nothing.” “Okay, but it’s a movie. Speak your thoughts to me. Tell someone, ‘You got to go do this.'”
Aside from OITNB, you can catch him in WGN America’s Manhattan, a drama about the development of the first atomic bomb, premiering 7/27.