You might not recognize the name, but you know exactly who he is.  He played Chris in the popular television series, “Northern Exposure,” and Nia Vardalos’ love interest in the runaway hit, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”  Most recently, he was Kate Hudson’s “sexy pastor” boyfriend in “Raising Helen.” 

In his latest gig, John Corbett appears alongside Hilary Duff in “Raise Your Voice,” a film that tells the story of a talented young singer who loses her older brother, then goes on to fulfill her dreams at a music conservatory.  Corbett plays Duff’s music teacher and mentor, Mr. Torvald, who believes in the young woman, even though she is still grieving her brother’s death, and very unsure about her abilities.

I met with Corbett, a professing believer, at a recent press junket in Los Angeles where he shared some of his thoughts about the film, his faith and what he plans to do next.

Describe  your role in “Raise Your Voice.”

John:  I thought I was a little too old to be in a teen movie, but when I finished the script I thought it could be a great little movie.  Mr. Torvald really enjoys teaching the kids and is sort of a big kid himself. He’s also pretty observant and recognizes that Terri (Duff’s character) is a diamond in the rough, so he gives her a little extra attention and she starts to shine a little brighter.

In the film you’re a mentor.  Who would you say have been mentors in your life?

John:  I had a great teacher named Lou Volpe when I was a sophomore.  I went to Catholic school, and Lou was my English teacher.  I had the typical ADD that every second or third kid has got today, and I couldn’t concentrate. I was a D-F student, you know, and totally disrupted the class.  My poor teachers – I was always making jokes, the class clown, because I couldn’t pay attention. And Lou let me be myself.  He was a really great guy, kind of like Robin Williams in “Dead Poets Society” – just inspiring.  Another teacher was in Hollywood when I was doing those three years without having any success.  I had a fear – and still do – of being judged, in my acting class, which was maybe 20 years.  The class requirements were you had to get up every week and do a scene, but I couldn’t do it, and I was going to quit the class.  So my teacher, whose name was Howard Fein, and he still teaches, said, “You can just come to class and sit in the back.  You don’t have to get up.”  He let me come to class and he didn’t charge me – and it was pretty expensive back then.  Even in 1988 or 1989, it was like $500 a month.  But I didn’t have to pay.  I sat in the back for two years and didn’t do a scene.  If he didn’t do that, I doubt I would ever have gone to another acting class.  And I still have a problem getting up … I couldn’t do a play.  I can get up with my guys and play, but there’s something about acting in front of people, where I open myself up to criticism … I have a fear of it.

You’ve played an awful lot of positive role models.  Sometimes it’s just a lot more fun to play the bad guy.  Have you ever really wanted to play somebody evil?

John:  Yeah, because even though I’m blessed with this great career, I’m just tired of playing the boyfriend.  Every movie I get, I’m the nice guy boyfriend.  I’ve never done a movie really with guys.  I’d love to be in a movie where it’s me and two other dudes.  I did have a small part in “Tombstone,” in 1992, and that was the best time of my life, watching those guys.  I actually learned how to behave on a set from watching Kurt Russell.