"Lights, camera, action!" Though audiences are highly familiar with the world of acting that follows those words that have led to the creation of so many films and television show favorites, movie viewers are far less familiar with the world of acting prior to lights and cameras. Thanks to a gracious friend, I had the unique opportunity to attend San Diego's Comicon and not only meet "Archer"'s Aisha Tyler and "Vikings"' star Travis Fimmel, but was also able to sit in on a podcast interview Thursday, July 21st, between the two actors as they shared with fans their thoughts and feelings on being an actor both on and off camera.
From writing her own books, doing stand-up comedy and starring in television series such as "Archer", "Criminal Minds" and even "Friends", Aisha Tyler has been an iconic example of the modern woman, full of both power, individuality and, most importantly, sass. However, this highly successful actor first fell in love with acting by falling first for a boy.
"I liked a guy, followed him around to acting class and found out I liked acting more than the guy," said Tyler. "So I became an actor."
Tyler said that though she may have started out as an introverted shy child who spent much of her time "throwing a tennis ball against a wall for hours of entertainment," acting and playing the roles of made-up characters helped her discover who she really was. "I think loner kids tend to be artistic adults," said Tyler. "There's something about becoming an actor that makes you think you know yourself better."
For Travis Fimmel, star of the show Vikings and leading role in the latest film Warcraft, it was being around like-minded individuals and the friendly competition that drew him into acting and helped him grow into his own skin. "You become an actor because you can be around people like you," said Fimmel. "My drive was if somebody else can do it, I can do it."
While discussing the various actors and actresses they grew up admiring, Tyler and Fimmel address the fact that it is hard to measure the success of acting because it is so deeply rooted in self-growth and self-discovery.
"It's really a competition with yourself," said Tyler. "I don't think you [as an actor] ever reach a state of complete satisfaction and that's what drives you to continue to improve."
Fimmel adds, "Truth is, it's a very hard industry to be amazing at. In my opinion, it can even be harder than being a doctor."
Though perhaps the surgeons who spent ten plus years in med-school would disagree with the star's analysis, the reasoning behind Fimmel's statement makes sense. Tyler explains, "The spleen is always in the same spot, anatomy usually stays constant, but with acting there's so many things you can do and change to improve."
A surgeon can only go so deep into a body but there's no limit to how far an actor can go into the mind. Acting is a world of grey rather than black and white do's and dont's. Like an open-ended answer on an exam, you can always improve no matter how well you believe you do on the ten millionth try. Creativity is full of nooks and cranys waiting to be explored and actors rarely have the chance to discover them all. "You're just constantly trying to be better," said Tyler.
So does an actor need to have had radical experiences in order to be artistically radical? According to Tyler, the real treasure is in the everyday experiences that anyone might experience, good or bad. "If you've gone through a lot in your life, it can shape you...as an actor, you can use it," said Tyler. "Everyone is going to go through sh**, the key is not to let it overpower you. Use it to your advantage."
When asked by an audience member what the most rewarding and enjoyable experience about being an actor is, both Fimmel and Tyler agreed that the pure joy that actors have the power to give to the fans who look so highly upon them compares to nothing else. It is by far the most rewarding.
"It's amazing how happy you can make people, fans and kids," said Fimmel. "The best feeling is when someone comes running up to you giggling."
According to Tyler and Fimmel there are two kinds of actors, the ones who want to be famous and the ones who want to act. "Some want to be recognized for their fame and others want to be acknowledged as regular people. That's who I want to be," said Tyler. "I like that as a celebrity, you can show up at an event and change the world. You can use your fame to do such amazing good."
While some actors measure their success by how well they are known, actors like Fimmel and Tyler measure their success by how well they know their fans and the impact they make on their lives. At Tyler's meet and greet session prior to her's and Fimmel's podcast interview, Tyler added an extra 30 minutes to her tight schedule so she could personally meet and greet all the fans anxiously waiting to see her. Fimmel happily allowed for fans to stop him in the hotel hallway after the interview so they could all get pictures with the Aussie actor. Tyler even instructed all those present for the interview to grab their chairs and get them as close as possible to the stage and each other for a more intimate environment.
Both Fimmel and Tyler treasure their fans and seek to use their stardom as a chance to make a difference and improve the world. It was a treat to be able to meet both of these genuine and out-going actors and hear about their wild stories and personal journey through Hollywood fame.