Chris 'C.T.' Tamburello Is Ready To Play The Most Dangerous Game - Exclusive Interview

Fans of MTV's "The Challenge" know Chris Tamburello or "CT" for his many seasons competing on the show. He's been a contestant for years and has won six seasons, according to Distractify, but Tamburello has passions beyond reality TV, and he's recently started pursuing a career in acting. He starred in the 2019 horror "Habitual" and just came out with a new film, "The Most Dangerous Game."

The film is a rendition of a short story by Richard Connell and a remake of the 1932 film by the same name. In this latest rendition, Tamburello plays Sanger Rainsford, who becomes stranded on a mysterious island after a shipwreck. The island's only resident welcomes the survivors into his home, but after the host reveals his true nature, Sanger is forced to run and fight for his life on the desolate island. 

Tamburello stars alongside Casper Van Dien,Tom Berenger, Bruce Dern, and Judd Nelson. During an exclusive interview with The List, Tamburello discussed his experience making the film. He shared the most significant challenges, fun stories from behind the scenes, and opened up about his biggest concerns making the transition into acting.

Why he wanted to be part of this story

What made you want to be part of this project?

Ooh, that's open-ended. Where do I even begin? From the legendary actors to the legendary story, why wouldn't I? It's a lot of fun, [and a] classic story. I'm sure you've all read it in school, for the most part. To get to do a rendition of this classic, and with actors that I grew up watching, they're major league names, and it was a lot of fun.

As you said, the film was based on a classic story, and also, there was the original film in 1932. Had you seen the film or read the story growing up or anything like that?

It's a rendition, but I'd like to believe that the intent and, I would say, the value behind it are still there. I haven't seen it ... I've heard that it plays big. That's what I keep hearing. I'm waiting for someone to give me some details or something. I guess I have to wait for the film.

Are you going to see it [for the first time] at the premiere?

I'll be at the premiere.

Are you excited to actually see it all come to life and everything?

I am. I'm really excited to see it, and I'm hoping that ... One thing I thought of a couple of days ago. Can you imagine if my son goes to school, and not only does he read the story, but they also show the film in school, and his father's Mr. Rainsford? That's so cool.

Oh, yeah, that's so crazy to think about.

"Dad, why didn't you tell me you were Mr. Rainsford?"

How he prepped for the role

Did you do anything ahead of time to prep for the role?

Of course, with my coach and a lot of scenes, a lot of practice. I tried to engulf myself into Sanger, everything from the original story to backstory to tapping into the real-life emotions that I had been suppressing for a long time, not able to get them out.

I was feeling, at one point, that maybe I should be sending production an invoice for the therapy for a lot of these suppressed emotions that I was able to let out. I'm hoping that people are pleasantly surprised. I really wanted him to have some depth, and I hope that ... I'd like to think that there is a level of depth, because you don't really know everything ... You know he was a war hero, and he survives, but he's also in this place where he's questioning whether or not it was worth doing what he had to do to survive. Did he become what he was fighting against to survive, but then for what? Is it to go on hunting trips and continue on killing for the rest of his life?

I felt like the world made him a soldier or a warrior. You don't necessarily know what he was. He could have been an accountant, for all we know. He's in this place where he's struggling to move on and to live. He's alive, but he's not really living, and his father means well, and he's trying to snap him out of it, and take the tools that God gave you, and he's going to fight for all the things, and it's over.

I can't remember where I read it, but there was something about, "Sometimes more trauma helps you get over the trauma." Hopefully, there's a level of growth when you see him re-finding himself along the way, and coming to terms with what he'd done in the past, and having something to look forward to. That's the route, and hopefully, near the end, you see that he's ready to move forward in living it.

Connecting to a character with PTSD

I definitely feel like that came across. Like you were talking about, he's a character who has this PTSD that he's going through. What was that like for you?

The guy didn't know it because back then, they didn't have that [term. It was] shell shock. They were more like, "I'll give you something to cry about" back in the day. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Throw some dirt on it."

What was that like for you to try to connect to that to play him?

I loved to be able to dive into him. I try to become him as much as I can. It's like I'm playing adult pretend. I do that with my son a lot, where we have theater, and he always comes up with a big, crazy story that we have to portray, so maybe he's my acting coach. 

I tried to understand Sanger's situation and tried to make it my own, the best I could relate to it. From there, I would do research on whatever I felt he was going through, like PTSD and that kind of stuff. I would do a lot of research on that, everything from mannerisms to outbursts to anything I could that would help me. 

There's also a sense of [what it was like] back then ... Even though the original story, I believe, was based in the late '20s or early '30s, this is a [later] rendition of it, so it's in World War II. What was the culture like? What were people like? They were generally ... they had a tougher outlook... they were harder.

Today, it is a good thing that people are more open and vocal to letting out your emotions and how you feel, and it doesn't make you vulnerable. It doesn't make you weak to be vulnerable. Back then it was more [about how] you suppressed what you were going through, and maybe it'll go away.

How the actions scenes reminded him of The Challenge

The film also has a lot of action scenes. What were those like to plan out and to film?

Those were a lot of fun. Honestly, getting my butt kicked was the easy part because I've got some history with that, getting thrown out of a plane or shot into the ocean with some contraption. Falling and getting tossed around was the easy part for me. There were times when I wanted to do more, but I guess it was more than enough.

We were running out of wardrobe, because I remember there was one scene where we were filming, and I don't know ... if I can say, but it was an action scene, and we were getting shot at, and for some reason, we kept doing it over and over, and I kept backflipping down a hill, and I kept splitting my pants in half. It got to the point where they were like, "Okay, enough's enough. Maybe not go too hard, okay? We're running out of clothes for you, and we're pissing off the wardrobe department." Every time I would come back from lunch or whatever [break] it was, I would have a pair of pants get sewn up. It was fun. I don't know what I can say and what I can't, but it was fun.

I was like a big, giant kid, running through the mud and the trenches and stuff. That was a lot of fun. I remember when we were shooting the trench scene, there were explosions going off in the back, and I was supposed to get sent into the trench, but the way I was going about it was too aggressive. I had to tone it down, and that was a lot of fun. I ended up stubbing my toe. I didn't really get hurt or anything.

I don't think it actually made the cut because we didn't end up doing it, but there was supposed to be one scene where I was going to run and jump off of a cliff into the ocean, and for whatever reason, we didn't actually get to film it, but I was ready. Even though it was freezing cold ... To me, honestly, part of me was thinking that running through the woods for three days while people were trying to get rid of me, it reminded me of the old finals in "The Challenge."

He hopes people see Sanger and not C.T.

Because a lot of people know you from "The Challenge," what do you think it'll be like for fans to see you? You're still doing this action stuff, but you're also playing a serious role.

One thing I am concerned about is that ... I really hope that people see Sanger and not CT, because it's not me as a person. Sure, it's me there, and it's a familiar face, but that's to be expected. Over time, that's something that'll go away. When I look back in the day, when other people from MTV have tried to go on to do other things, that was earlier in the reality TV days, and if you wanted to do anything else, you had to stop doing MTV stuff and let that fade away, and then move on to other things. 

That's a little different now. Reality TV is more accepted in the industry, whereas before, it was super frowned upon — not that it's not now, but I am concerned that people won't see Sanger. Hopefully.

Learning from his castmates

What was it like for you to work with the other cast members on the film?

They were all great. I'll be honest with you. Me and Elissa, we spent a lot of time together going back and forth through the scripts, every day, tweaking a little and making them our own. She was amazing. 

I got to learn so much from being around Judd (Nelson), Casper (Van Dien), Bruce (Dern), and Tom (Berenger) — watching them in action, and more than that, seeing them in action and how they can turn everything on and off, and how to dive right in, to some of them taking the time to actually give me some pointers, and take the time to listen on what I had in mind. 

[These were all] tricks of the trade, and having these people that have been doing it for decades, to actually have the patience to take the time to work with me, I'm really grateful. I'm lucky. It was great. I love it a lot. I want to do it again.

What would you say was the biggest challenge while making the film?

I expected it, but to an extent, the only real similarity between reality and film is the equipment. I've said that before, where everything is about making sure you're on top of intentions, physical state, given circumstances, and being able to tap into exactly what needs to be, how you need to feel. At the drop of a dime, if something changes, being able to adapt to it quick while staying true to the character, that's the biggest challenge. 

That was probably it — being truthful to Sanger, to the character, making sure that I'm getting across what needs to get across, and making sure that the director is getting what he needs from me, and making sure that Sanger comes off sincere and genuine. 

The Most Dangerous Game arrives in limited theaters and digital August 5 from Mill Creek Entertainment, along with Koenig Pictures and Charach Productions.