10 THINGS – Adam Aalderks
You were well on your way to having a career in Industrial Education. And, then, came acting. What prompted this decision?
It takes a special type of person to be a teacher. Their patience and selflessness are second to none, and it is easy to differentiate the good ones from the bad. I always told myself, if I was to ever begin resenting the students or falling into the “bad teacher” category, then I needed to end my teaching career for the sake of the students. Well, it took about six hours on the first day to realize I was not as patient or as selfless, as I thought I was. No amount of training can prepare you for taking over a classroom and the stresses of the expectations that come with that. So, I made the decision to take a step towards a career change, and ultimately put me on a path of not looking back.
Which actors work did you admire and which ones inspired you to choose acting as a new path?
I watched a lot of movies as a kid. My family always geared toward Jim Carrey, Chris Farley and Adam Sandler. To this day, my brother-in-law and I can carry complete articulate conversations, just using movie quotes. This quickly found its way into my classrooms, which I know caused my teachers some heartache. But, making someone laugh, is a sensation like no other. I loved helping people look at the lighter side of issues and ultimately getting through some difficult times, just from using humor. I think early in life, it became the drug I felt addicted to, and I never truly let go of it. I always felt I could do what those guys did and choosing it as a new path seemed more like freedom, than a fear of failure. Later, I found my love for dramatic scenes and the darker side of characters. But, I always reflect back to the comedic timing of those original films.
How did you first hear of the opportunity with HBO’s Ballers? And, besides hanging out with some cool guys and talking football, what made you decide to be a part of this show?
There is so much good TV on air right now, it is impossible to keep up with all the shows. Plus, at the time, I didn’t have cable. So, when my agent told me I had an audition for Ballers, I had to do some research to see what this show was about. I put my audition on tape and sent it off. I had no idea, that audition, would change my life. A few weeks later, my agent called me and told me I had booked the show, but I still didn’t understand how vital this role was. It wasn’t until getting onto the set of Ballers, and hearing some say “I bet you’re excited” and “congrats on this character”, that I began to understand this was a bigger opportunity than I imagined. My agent was the one who helped me decide that this show, was the better option. I had booked a lead role in a pilot shooting at the same time as Ballers. Again, we didn’t know how big this Travis Mach role was, so when he presented me with both options, we both agreed Ballers was the better choice and had a better future. Now, looking back, there was no question Ballers was the better choice. Luckily, I have an agent I can trust and ultimately follow his guidance.
Do you have a background in football or any sport that has helped you with your role on the show?
I grew up in a small town in Iowa. It is a football town much like “Friday Night Lights”. Football was always a part of my life, and playing in the NFL was a childhood dream too. Being a pro player was quickly taken off the table, but I did play Linebacker and Nose Guard at the collegiate level, for a while. So, I had knowledge of the game and had experience to tap into, during certain parts of the show. I used that experience and training to get my body in shape for the show. I knew the average linebacker would weigh in around 240lbs. So, I began my training, going back to Agility, Olympic Lifts and a little Crossfit, to help me look the part. I went 103 days total, which included the right nutrition and training, with no off days or cheat meals. I focused very intently on my post workout recovery and kept my nutrition as the staple of the plan.
Tracking my progress from booking the show to the final day of shooting, I am fairly happy with the results. Anyone playing a character that has to do a body transformation, will always want one more week or a little more time. But, you don’t get that. So, I’m happy to say, I did everything in my power to look the role.
As mentioned, you play the role of Travis Mach on Ballers. What can you tell us about Travis and his relationship with the rest of the crew?
Travis Mach is a fun character to play. I like to joke and say, he’s the kind of guy you bring home, to make your parents mad. He tends to have a narcissistic nature and manages to offend nearly everyone within listening distance of him. But, below the sarcasm and quick wit, is a kid who has devoted his whole life to football, and desperately needs Spencer Strasmore’s (Dwayne Johnson’s character) help to take the next step. And, Spencer needs Travis to pull through, to save face with his boss. Travis deals mostly with Spencer Strasmore on the show. Spencer puts Travis into these situations that expose Travis’ weaknesses, not only with his game, but with his character flaws. Spencer has been the only one able to meet Travis on his level and break him down enough, to show him a way out. It is neat to watch the breaking down of walls and watching their “hard headed” mentorship transform into this dynamic friendship.
That has to be so cool that you get to play alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. How much have you learned being on set with him?
I met Dwayne at a very crucial time in my acting career. I have always been in the fitness industry and tried to stay fit. But, watching how serious Dwayne takes his training, has taken my own training to a new level. Beyond the obvious physical stature of the guy, it’s who he is when the camera isn’t rolling, that impressed me. His calm and humble demeanor allowed him to seem approachable and like “one of the guys.” I watched how he approached the scenes and worked through them with the other cast members. I was amazed how he talked with other actors, inviting their opinions, openly. Every scene we had, was a creative collaboration, which made me feel like I mattered. This was the last thing I expected. I think the thing that I learned from Dwayne the most, was his constant eye for the business side of things. Whether it is taking a photo next to a nice car, so he can post it later or crossing over barricades to talk to fans, the guy simply “gets it”. I watched how much he truly cherished fans wanting photos and how he interacted with them. I watched how he made a point to talk to everyone in the group, either a hand shake, autograph or a photo. The guy is a class act and I am so grateful I was around him early in my career.
What can fans expect to see from Travis and company, as the season comes to a close?
The rest of the season is going to get crazy. There is a lot of story left to tell. After the ending of episode seven, it is clear that Joe and Spencer are just getting started, and Travis desperately needs Spencer to pull through. The audience is going to love seeing how these stories all either find restitution or end up more savage than they began. I don’t want to give away anything, so I’ll just say DO NOT miss a second of the rest of the season.
Now that you’re fully immersed in acting, any plans in dabbing back into the Industrial Education field?
No, my high school teaching days are done. I still love to create projects, so I do wood-working and metal fabricating in my garage, as a hobby. Usually, I pull my scrap pieces out and study them for a few minutes, contemplating what I need in my house and how I’ll build it. Then, I’ll draw up a sketch and plan out my approach. I’ll crank up Hank Williams, David Allan Coe or Willie and dive into my imagination. I’ve always loved creating and I find the problem solving more therapeutic than anything.
What types of fashion and styles appeal to you the most?
I’m a big fan of the classic crew cut T-shirt, boots and shades. I actually fell in love with the Buffalo clothing by David Bitton. I started using their styles on Ballers and quickly fell in love with them. Now, I use them for references for new styles. But, I’ll always lean towards the rustic leather jacket and jeans.
Besides HBO’s Ballers, what other projects do you have coming up?
I recently have learned of an action film that I’m in, starting mid-October, with some classic action legends. I’ll get to do more physical fighting and stunts, so I’m really looking forward to it. I then learned, that my close friend booked the role of the guy I’ll be fighting. This should make for some interesting rehearsals.
Photo Courtesy: Jeff Daly/ HBO, Max Eremine, Portrait PR