Travis Fimmel was known for being a successful model, with an assignment modeling underwear for Calvin Klein making him world famous. He talked to Eye For Film's Darren Amner about what it’s like starring in his first film role and how he wants to be known for his craft, not just for the sake of being famous. Be warned, however - this interview contains spoilers.
Darren Amner: Ron is your first lead role in a feature film. What was it about this character that drew you into making Restraint?
Travis Fimmel: Ron’s trying to find some way to fix his broken life through first the love of his girls and then through the acceptance and love of his new friend, Andrew. A friendship that may seem adversarial, but since Ron has no background or history in healthy relationships, this is how he comprehends creating a profound relationship. Ron really feels betrayed by Andrew in the end, as he expected his stripper girlfriend to stray, because that’s how women who are strippers behave. But he’s devastated when Andrew betrays him. Ron is a complicated human being, whose tortured soul creates his behavior. He truly means well, and just wants to be loved. Ron is tortured, lonely, acts out like a child, has anger management issues and dies a tragic death. Who wouldn’t want to play a role like this?
DA: This is just my observation, but being a former successful model and also a television star with Tarzan I imagine you were offered many romantic lead roles to capitalize on your appeal to women.
TF: Ron has many layers to him; this was one of the main reasons I decided to take this role. The answer is in the question. I steer very clear of that obvious romantic and cheesy type of role. I didn’t get into acting to be famous, but to disturb people’s sensibilities. To make people think, to make people relate to my character's pain and therefore feel that they're not so alone in their circumstances. I also want to always grow as an actor, and one needs the kind of role that affords that opportunity.
DA: David Denneen is making his feature debut with Restraint; so are you. What advice did he give you whilst working on Restraint and how was your experience making this movie with him?
TF: David is a visionary. He directs like an artist would paint a picture. I felt that I was in a living and breathing canvas. It was like being directed by Salvador Dali. It was all very surreal, and very, very cool.
DA: Your chemistry with Teresa Palmer on-screen is great. Could you tell us what it was like working with her? From reading the press notes it seems you enjoyed it immensely - it must have been tough working with a beautiful, talented young actress, right?
TF: Teresa’s hot, and very open to exploring her darker side. This is crucial in creating the team that is Dale and Ron. Though she was only 19, she seemed much more substantial than that. And, she’s hot.
DA: Ron is one confused guy. He clearly has many issues. How hard was it to get into the mindset of this character?
TF: I’m sorry to say that it wasn’t too difficult. I’m one really fucked up guy.
DA: I read in the press notes that you felt modeling got you noticed for the wrong reasons. How important is it to you to alter people's perceptions of you as an actor? For example, as Ron you cut your hair, remained unshaven and chain smoked heavily. Was this already in the script or your own creative input?
TF: It really had nothing to do with trying to separate myself from my background as a model. That is the past and inconsequential. I look at every role I do, not as how to change people's perceptions of me as a person, but to dig deep into the character, and all that that means regarding the behavioral traits of that character. I try to become Ron, and Ron has crazy hair, doesn’t shave (because he simply doesn’t own a razor, no other reason) and smokes way too much.
DA: Ron and Andrew's scenes together are some of my favourite moments in the movie,
especially when they battle over Dale. What was it like working with Stephen Moyer, who would have been the most experienced actor on-set - was it a good learning experience for you?
TF: Stephen loved to rehearse, and we did it even on our days off. We experimented with different choices to see which ones would be the most cutting edge. Pushing the envelope kind of thing. We worked symbiotically.
DA: Whilst shooting Restraint what were your fondest and most challenging memories?
TF: The sex scene. Loved it! Also found it challenging not to take it all the way, if you know what I mean. Did I happen to mention Teresa’s hot?
DA: I see you have been cast as Dirk in Gregor Jordan’s The Informers. Have you finished your part and can you tell me a little about your character and story segment?
TF: Great role. Dirk is a vampire (or thinks he is) who likes to play mind games with his prey. Very sexual, very twisted, sociopath. (Again with the type casting). But ultimately I couldn’t do it, for right before I was to get on a plane to go on location to Uruguay, my lawyer called with visa issues. If I left, I wouldn’t have been able to get back into the US. So, couldn’t do it.
DA: You’re a busy guy, mixing up working on both films and also a new TV series called The Beast, co-starring Patrick Swayze. Have you started filming yet and what can we expect from this role?
TF: Patrick plays Barker, a rogue undercover FBI of the vein of Denzel in Training Day. I’m the rookie (Ellis Dove), just out of Quantico, who starts out as a by the book kind of guy but ends up just as out of control and screwed up as Barker. Ellis ends up defying the hierarchy of the FBI and goes deep undercover with Barker. Doing a lot that is questionable, both morally and legally. The show is called The Beast. It’s really well written, and is somewhat like The Wire, or The Shield.