Reno actor overcomes addiction, succeeds in Hollywood

Published: Aug. 14, 2020 at 8:34 AM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -Chris Browning has come a long way since his days in Reno. And so has the city itself.

"You know, Plumb lane had cows on it," said Browning.

He lived in Reno until he was 8, moving away with his mother. But he spent his summers here with his dad, and later lived here again after college. Now he’s carved out a career in Hollywood.

"Like my social media says, that guy who died in that movie you like," joked Browning.

He’s been in numerous movies and TV shows, often depicting one of the bad guys. It’s what made him want to branch out and star in a new independent short film called Clarity.

"I just loved the script," added Browning.

He plays an older father who’s suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and is reunited with his son who he doesn’t immediately recognize. In the story, he’s confronted over their past abusive relationship. The movie earned numerous honors, including the Grand Jury Award for Short Film at the Mammoth Film Festival this summer. But it’s a career that was nearly derailed.

“You know I lived on the streets for six years, and spent half of that time in jail,” admitted Browning.

Browning fell out of Hollywood and into addiction. It took him 12 years to finally make it 90 days into recovery; kicking both alcohol and drug addictions.

“You know, you reach your bottom when you stop digging,” added Browning. “Whatever you put ahead of your recovery, you’re going to lose.”

He wound up in New Mexico, right when the state started luring movie productions to the area with their tax incentives.

“The Book of Eli comes to town and they’ve got Denzel and Gary Oldman and Mila Kunis and all of their heroes and main villains, and then who else is left? People that die. The bad guys,” said Browning.

After years of being out of the business, he was back in.

“And then the L.A. people saw me again, in movies like 3:10 to Yuma. I did Terminator Salvation there.”

That led to many other roles, including alongside Will Smith in Bright, and Gerard Butler in Angel Has Fallen. He’s also had roles in hit TV shows like Westworld, Sons of Anarchy, Ray Donovan and Bosch. He’s voiced video games, and the tag lines in commercials for Miller Lite and DirecTV.

“You don’t just watch TV, DirecTV. I was the DirecTV guy for two years,” added Browning.

His past also makes him appreciate every day he’s in front of the camera, knowing that he’s part of something that could be seen for generations.

“That’s a good reason not to phone it in, because it’s forever.”

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