‘Follow your bliss’ – Chase Korte

It is often the brightest lights are extinguished first.

Adri Mehra

Last Saturday night, my dear friend, confidant, colleague and hero, Chase Korte, was senselessly killed by a drunk driver.

Chase was driving back to Los Angeles from a busy weekend in Sedona, Ariz., when a car collided into his from the rear, killing him instantly.

He was 24 years old.

Needless to say, the memorials have been pouring in faster than they can even be collected.

Chase, an Elk River native and 2005 graduate of the department of theatre arts here at the University, was something of an anomaly, even in the quirk-happy acting universe.

Imagine all-American matinee good looks postered over the icy intensity of Joaquin

Phoenix, the wild-eyed abandon of Jack Nicholson and the short fuse of Al Pacino – leavened with the Method School melancholy of a young Brando – and you’ve at least got a guy who might want to have a smoke with Mr. Chase Korte, ’cause they’d have a lot in common.

You’d probably recognize him. Chase was the brash teenager in the little red Ford Escort who tried to drag-race a cop at a stoplight in the famous Treasure Island Casino commercial.

“You’d have better odds at Treasure Island Casino,” blares the ad.

My parents just saw the commercial again on TV a couple of weeks ago. A friend of mine just caught it on the Jumbotron at a Minnesota Twins game late last season.

The latter broadcast makes sense. Chase was larger than life, and I’m sure he had no trouble filling a stadium-sized Jumbotron with his humor and heart.

After phenomenal success as an actor in a wide variety of local stage, screen, commercial and industrial roles, Chase decided to cash in his chips and move to Los Angeles upon graduating from the University in late 2005.

It wasn’t easy. Chase slept on the floor of a house in West Hollywood (rented by Minneapolis resident and “Fargo” actor Bruce Bohne) for months, and work was often slow in coming.

In between days that he had auditions, Chase was busy “not shaving” (as he put it) and working on several ideas for his own screenplays, as he was a budding filmmaker in his own right.

And yet, when Chase did find work, it was fantastic.

After further solidifying his Screen Actors Guild union eligibility on a Hyundai industrial video shoot, Chase landed a part last year in a “Sinking of the Titanic” re-enactment on the highly rated “Seconds from Disaster” series on the internationally syndicated National Geographic Channel.

Not long after, Chase saw a posting online looking for an actor to be filmed hiking across the entirety of Great Britain – six weeks and 1,100 miles from the northern coast of Scotland to the southern tip of England.

The project, called “Peace Walker,” is a self-described “hybrid film” (combining fictional narrative with a documentary style) that tells the story of an American man named

Ray who loses his brother in the Iraq war and is spiritually moved to make a pilgrimage for peace by walking across the United Kingdom – a place he had once planned to visit with his brother.

The idea behind the film was to capture, in real time, the perils and promise of constant travel on foot, all through the lens of one man’s personal journey.

“The plan was to meet interesting local characters Ö and to integrate them into the story, and it worked,” wrote director Tara Golden in her filmmaker’s journal.

The project was inspired by the true story of a mysterious silver-haired woman called “Peace Pilgrim” who had walked over 25,000 miles throughout North America for peace from 1953 to 1981.

Of course, the summer trip was not without conflict. “Creative differences” resulted in two crucial crew members refusing to go farther than Glasgow, Scotland, and a car accident nearly derailed the timetable further.

However, Chase and director Tara – the only two left on the production team – stuck it out, and returned to the United States in August with over 40 hours of footage.

During the past six months, Chase and Tara had continued to work together closely on post-production for the film, which often involved Chase shuttling back and forth between Los Angeles and Tara’s ranch in Sedona.

Just last week, Tara completed the latest clip from the film, part of an ongoing series of teasers she has been featuring on her YouTube “Peace Walker” channel.

No doubt Chase was excited about the project nearing completion. Also, he had recently reconciled with his longtime girlfriend and had just put a deposit down on a new apartment in Hollywood – his very own.

He had everything to live for.

It was at some point on this frequent weekend drive through the cool desert air that Chase Korte’s life came to a tragic end.

And now, because our country is a slave to the liquor lobby masquerading as “free market,” my beautiful buddy – like so many thousands of others each year – is dead and gone.

Please help me in writing to Congress about zero tolerance for drunk driving. Visit madd.org for more information.

Rest in peace, Chase Korte. Thank you for the light you brought to this world. Things will never be the same without you.

Adri Mehra welcomes comments at [email protected]