Christopher Brian McCombs (born 25 August 1980) is an American actor and model. He is the creator, star, writer, and producer of the Japanese on demand series The Benza and its spin off series Benza English on Amazon Prime Video. He is known for portraying Michael in the Netflix original series Followers,[1] and for stage roles such as Hoteye in the live action production of Fairy Tail.[2] McCombs is fluent in Japanese, and has won several acting awards for his performances in English and Japanese alike.[3][4]

Christopher McCombs
Christopher Brian McCombs

(1980-08-25) 25 August 1980 (age 43)
Alma materCollege of Southern Nevada
Occupation(s)Actor, model, writer
Years active1995–present
Parent(s)Karen Callahan
David McCombs

Early life edit

McCombs was born in Geneva, Ohio and moved to Cleveland with his mother, teacher Karen Callahan, at a young age. He began acting and modeling professionally in high school at the age of fifteen when his gifted education teacher pushed him into auditioning for shows.[5]

He credits his father, David McCombs, for his interest in the Japanese language. When he was a child, his father bought him and his brother a Super Famicom and he began playing video games in Japanese. This led to his interest in formally studying the language as an adult.[6]

Career edit

McCombs moved to Tokyo, Japan in 2010[7] after studying Japanese at the College of Southern Nevada and University of Las Vegas.[8] Though he initially went to Tokyo to work as a model, he began working in variety television shows and appeared regularly on MX Television's Go Ji Ni Muchu for a year.[9] In addition, McCombs appeared as a regular cast member on educational television shows like NHK E Television’s EiEiGo!, Shigoto no Kiso Eigo, and Omotenashi no Kiso Eigo.[10]

In 2016, in both the Chinese and Japanese stage production of the manga series Fairy Tail, McCombs portrayed the character Hoteye.[2] In 2020, McCombs played the recurring role of Michael in the Netflix series Followers.[11]

Since 2017, McCombs appears weekly as the host of Television Asahi’s Kodawari Navi.[12] He appears as himself semi-regularly as a guest commentator on NHK1’s Bento Expo.[13] He occasionally works as a reporter for NHK World on JTrip Japan.[14]

McCombs is the creator, writer, and star of The Benza, a Japanese on demand television series which began streaming in 2019. Additionally, he created the spin-off series Benza English in 2020, and wrote the story and dialog for a retro RPG video game based on The Benza, called The Benza RPG.[15]

Tokyo Cowboys edit

In 2015, McCombs founded the Tokyo-based independent production company Tokyo Cowboys to help create better roles for foreigners wanting to work in entertainment in Japan, regardless of race, gender, or sexual preference. McCombs acts as both producer and head script writer.[16]

Though originally focused on making short films, like the award-winning LGBT short "The Actor and the Model",[17][18] Tokyo Cowboys began making serialized entertainment in 2019 with The Benza on Amazon Prime Video followed by its spin-off series Benza English. In 2023, McCombs executive produced and appeared in Tokyo Cowboy's first non-narrative streaming series "Getting Dirty in Japan" via Amazon Prime Video of Japan.[19]

He is quoted by SoraNews24 as saying, "I had only been here for six years but I had already realized that the quality of roles for foreigners in Japan were not (and are not) very good. Lost gaijin, loud gaijin, rude gaijin...To make matters worse, there is a lot of confusion in Japanese culture as to who is 'talento' [celebrities who often appear on TV as themselves] and who is an 'actor.' So, when you are appearing as an actor and playing the fool, it is often mistaken for 'talento.' People assume you are...a fool."[20]

Filmography edit

Christopher McCombs at Tokyo Comic Con 2022

Television edit

Year Title Role Notes Ref(s)
2012 Gojinimuchuu (五時に夢中) Self
2015 EieiGo! (エイエイGo) Various Roles
2017 Shigoto No Kiso Eigo (仕事の基礎英語) Various Roles
2017–present Kodawari Navi (こだわりナビ) DJ Chris [12]
2018 Omotenashi No Kiso Eigo (おもてなしの基礎英語) Various Roles
2019–present Bento Expo Self [13]
2019–present The Benza Chris Creator and producer
2020 Benza English Chris Creator and producer
2020 Followers Michael [11]
2021-2023 Onishi Hiroto's Basic English Recipe (大西泰斗の英会話☆定番レシピ) Self Studio commentator [21]
2023 Getting Dirty in Japan (ゲッティング・ダーティ・イン・ジャパン) Self Reporter and executive producer

Film edit

Year Title Role Notes Ref(s)
2014 Miracle: Devil Claus' Love and Magic Carlos [22]
2024 Aichaku Lucas Currently in Production [23]

Video games edit

Year Title Role Notes Ref(s)
2021 The Benza RPG Chris Writer [15]

Theater edit

Year Production Theater Role Ref(s)
2016 Fairy Tail Sunshine Theater Hoteye [24]

Awards edit

Able to perform in both Japanese and English, McCombs has won several awards for his acting. Most notably, he won Best Actor for his role in the Japanese short film The Actor and the Model at Formosa Festival of International Film in Taiwan as well as the Rising Star award at the 2018 Seoul Webfest in Korea[25] and the Best Actor award at the 2019 edition for his leading role in the television series The Benza.[26]

References edit

  1. ^ Weiss, Hannah. "Netflix's 'Followers' takes viewers inside the glittering world of Tokyo's Instagram influencers". Insider. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "ライブ・ファンタジー「FAIRY TAIL」 | 日本2.5次元ミュージカル協会". Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  3. ^ Inc, Natasha. ""壊れた便座"巡る日本発のコメディ「The Benza」韓国の国際映画祭で2冠(コメントあり)". 映画ナタリー (in Japanese). Retrieved January 9, 2021. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  4. ^ "LGBT映画『The Actor and The Model』が国際映画祭で賞を取ったぞ!!". ちるちる (in Japanese). Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  5. ^ "Foreigners in Japan Profile - featuring Chris McCombs". The Japan Guy. September 13, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  6. ^ "Hamish Downie's Five More Questions With Christopher McCombs". Two Gay Geeks. February 25, 2022. Retrieved February 27, 2022.
  7. ^ Sturdevant, Kayla (April 1, 2018). "Tokyo Cowboys shoot for more diversity on Japanese screens". The Japan Times. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  8. ^ "The Benza (Prime Video) : interviews de l'équipe -". (in French). July 3, 2020. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  9. ^ "TOKYO MX * 5時に夢中! - 曜日コーナー紹介". Retrieved March 18, 2021.
  10. ^ "The Benza Chris クリス". tokyo-cowboys. Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  11. ^ a b 株式会社フリー・ウエイブ (October 15, 2020). "NETFLIXオリジナルドラマ『F♡LL♡WERS』に クリス・マッコームスが出演!! | 東京で外国人モデル・タレント・ナレーターをお探しならフリー・ウエイブ". Free Wave (in Japanese). Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  12. ^ a b "vivia". Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  13. ^ a b 株式会社フリー・ウエイブ (July 2, 2019). "本日放送!NHK総合「BENTO EXPO」に外国人俳優のクリス・マッコームスが出演します! | 東京で外国人モデル・タレント・ナレーターをお探しならフリー・ウエイブ". Free Wave (in Japanese). Retrieved March 17, 2021.
  14. ^ The Age-Old Beauty of a Castle Town & The Deep World of Origami - J-Trip Plan - TV | NHK WORLD-JAPAN Live & Programs, retrieved March 17, 2021[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ a b Goodpastor, Joshua (December 30, 2020). "The Benza RPG Brings Free-To-Play Retro Action To PC and iOS Devices | Happy Gamer". HappyGamer. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  16. ^ "外国人もLGBTも普通に生活している、それが当たり前だと思える日本の未来を目指して一" [Foreigners and LGBT people are living normally, aiming for the future of Japan, which seems to be the norm]. Badi (in Japanese). Japan. November 21, 2017. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  17. ^ "アメリカ人×日本人のゲイカップルを描く「The Actor and The Model」12月に上映会へ". (in Japanese). November 17, 2016. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  18. ^ "LGBT映画『The Actor and The Model』が国際映画祭で賞を取ったぞ!!". ちるちる (in Japanese). Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  19. ^ "新しいスタイルの旅番組『ゲッティング・ダーティ・イン・ジャパン』アマゾンプライムで配信開始!". Kaigai Drama Navi. Japan. April 18, 2023. Retrieved April 20, 2023.
  20. ^ "Toilet-seat themed comedic-adventure The Benza breaks new ground for foreign talent in Japan". SoraNews24 -Japan News-. August 14, 2019. Retrieved January 9, 2021.
  21. ^ 大西, 泰斗 (September 18, 2021). "テレビ 大西泰斗の英会話☆定番レシピ 2021年10月号". テレビ 大西泰斗の英会話☆定番レシピ 2021年10月号. Japan: NHK. Retrieved September 19, 2021.
  22. ^ "Miracle devil claus love and magic" (in Japanese). Retrieved September 17, 2021.
  23. ^ "Aichaku". Retrieved July 9, 2023.
  24. ^ "ライブ・ファンタジー「FAIRY TAIL」". Nelke (in Japanese). Retrieved September 17, 2021.
  25. ^ Maxwell (September 13, 2023). "How To Maintaining Physical Health essential for Living a healthy life – Learn Healthy Life". Learn Healthy Life. Retrieved September 13, 2023.
  26. ^ "日本発のコメディ映画「The Benza」が海外でダブル受賞!シリーズ化が決定!". ニコニコニュース (in Japanese). Retrieved January 9, 2021.

External links edit