Theatre Arts Prof. Christopher Kauffman ’92 appeared in Episode 6—the last episode—of HBO’s latest limited series by David Simon (The Wire), “We Own This City,” which premiered on May 30. In the episode, Kauffman played Steven Levin, a defense attorney for accused Baltimore police officer Wayne Jenkins, played by Jon Bernthal.
The show is inspired by the nonfiction book of the same name by Justin Fenton, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun who chronicled the corruption of members of the Gun Trace Task Force, part of the Baltimore Police Department. The part Kauffman played is based on a real person. In the book, Levin is seen at trial trying to paint Jenkins as a remorseful figure, someone who will make amends for his past mistakes.
“The series really fleshes out all the corruption that Jenkins was a part of—someone overcome by greed and lust for power—and there’s little room for Levin to try and show Jenkins’ remorse in the courtroom. The case against Jenkins was so comprehensive and rock solid,” Kauffman said. “I saw my part as someone who was fed up with a stubborn client—Jenkins refused to cooperate and didn’t see his chance to reduce his sentence by giving up the names of other people involved.”
As a fan of Simon’s work, being a part of his storytelling experience while working alongside powerful actors like Bernthal was an honor for Kauffman—an experience he anticipates sharing with his Gettysburg College students inside the classroom and on the stage.
“In addition to allowing me to grow artistically and develop my career, pursuing television or film roles helps me to keep track of how things are changing in the industry,” Kauffman said. “With this knowledge, I can advise the students interested in working professionally as actors, and the cinema and media studies majors in my acting and directing classes, about what opportunities exist out there.”
Always in pursuit of new creative endeavors, in addition to his “We Own This City” appearance at the end of May, Kauffman also finished shooting on set in Baltimore for another limited series—this one for Apple TV, featuring Natalie Portman. This series, which is currently under wraps, was directed by Alma Har’el, an Israeli film director, whom Kauffman described as experimental and creative in her approach.
“I hope that my students see that being an actor and creator can be a joyful, lifelong pursuit, even when you have other passions, like teaching and directing at Gettysburg,” Kauffman said. “The important thing is to follow your interests and do what you can when you can—to keep up a strong work ethic that has a foundation of knowledge in a field and resilience in practice—to remain positive, proactive, and flexible.”
By Molly Foster
Photo courtesy of Prof. Christopher Kauffman ’92