It’s autumn of 2020, smack dab in the middle of a mind-numbing global pandemic. Christian Rose gets an email from his talent agency, Strutt Central, reminding him about his self-tape audition for NBC’s sci-fi drama series Debris.
The audition tape was due five minutes ago.
Leading up to this moment, the 20-year-old actor and musician from Peterborough-Nogojiwanong had already auditioned for some big roles but, beyond some commercial work, he wasn’t really landing many parts.
Rose was almost ready to give up.
“I was kind of starting to feel a bit defeated,” he recalls. “Like maybe I’m not a good actor, maybe this just isn’t my thing. So when I got the email reminder for the audition, I was going to just say ‘I’m sorry, I forgot, it’s past the deadline, never mind.’ But instead, I said I would send it right away.”
Rose scrambled to his room to hastily make his self-tape audition, battling his stubborn computer to create something — anything — to send in, even though it was already late.
“I made the tape as quickly as I could. Before that, I had always done like five and six takes for each clip. I would really overthink it. This time, I didn’t. There wasn’t any time to, they were waiting.”
“As soon as I sent it, I thought ‘There’s no way I’m getting that part. It was rushed. It was late. It was terrible. I’m going to look unprofessional. There’s no way.’ It didn’t seem good at all.”
It wasn’t long after that fateful day that Rose found himself being flown first-class to Vancouver, to shoot his first of three episodes of the NBC sci-fi drama series Debris.
VIDEO: “Debris” trailer
The 13-episode series from Fringe creator J.H. Wyman follows two agents, one MI6 and one CIA, as they investigate the mysterious effects caused by debris that falls to earth from an alien spaceship explosion.
Rose plays the role of 17-year-old Dario Maddox, the son of CIA operative and handler Craig Maddox. Dario has not been able to speak or move since surviving a terrible accident at the age of six.
“I don’t want to spoil anything, but a lot of Craig’s actions throughout the show are because of that accident — because of what happened to Dario,” Rose explains. “It’s actually a very interesting kind of role. That backstory underlies a lot of the show, you know, a lot of the conflict.”
Many career actors dream about landing a role as a named character. Portraying a named character whose story moves the plot forward is no small feat, especially for a young actor’s breakout role.
“This is my first really big role,” says Rose. “It was challenging, for sure, because you have to convey a lot without being able to move or speak. So, it was tricky, and I was really nervous. But at some point, I thought ‘just go with it.'”
“Because I use a wheelchair, I grew up kind of feeling trapped in a wheelchair, so I can relate to Dario. I was always kind of tapping into that. Getting into that character was just like, ‘Okay, what is my experience?’ The actor brings something unique to the character and, for this one in particular, I didn’t have to really do a lot of digging.”
Rose says his own lived experience gave him a unique insight into the character of Dario Maddox.
“At one point, I kind of was that kid. Mind you, I have a lot more ability than Dario does. But still, I very much understand. I didn’t go out and do a whole lot because of the wheelchair and a lot of other reasons. I mean, in the winter, the sidewalks (in Peterborough) are garbage — ableism is absolutely a thing. So I know what it’s like to kind of feel trapped in your own body, so to speak.”
When he’s not jet setting the world to shoot a major network television series, Rose works at Maar’s Music, a popular independent music store in Peterborough opened in 1993 by Markus and Nicole Maar.
“Maar’s is amazing — I might be biased, but I think they’re the best,” he laughs. “They’re like family. Markus is actually my main photographer. We’re going to be doing a photo shoot at the store here soon to update my IMDB page.”
While he’s thrilled to have landed an acting role, Rose considers himself first and foremost a musician. He has a new album on the way, and his newest single “Hello” will be available for streaming on Spotify soon.
“Music, for me, is a way that I can escape,” Rose explains. “When I’m focused, when I’m writing a song, it’s like I’m not thinking about stuff — I’m not getting stuck in my own head. With music, I can express myself. That’s why art is so amazing. It gives a voice to the people who don’t have a voice.”
As a wheelchair user, Rose says he has been “very much underestimated and overlooked” — but, instead of allowing that perception to limit what he can do, he’s used it for motivation.
“That drives a person to say, ‘You know what? Screw that! I’m good enough! I’m so much more than what you thought I was and screw you for thinking that in the first place!’ Just do what your heart tells you to do, regardless of all the doubt — whether it’s from yourself or from others — just do the thing, whatever it is. Do it for yourself.”
So what’s next for this remarkable, talented young man? Well, first thing’s first, he’s going to watch the 13-episode series in which he had a named role.
“I’m going to be completely honest, I haven’t even seen the whole first season yet,” Rose laughs. “I have them all recorded on my TiVo so I can binge them all at once.”
Rose appears as Dario Maddox in episodes three and four of Debris as well as in the season finale.
Editor’s note: Following this interview and the season finale on May 24, NBC cancelled Debris after just one season — despite the show being well received by critics. Debris is currently unavailable to watch or stream in Canada; it can be seen in the U.S. on NBC, Peacock, and Hulu.
This story has been updated to clarify Maar’s Music is owned by Markus and Nicole Maar.