Travis Fimmel

by E. Ryan Ellis

Girl's Gotta Eat
There are paths seen and unseen. There are paths taken. There are the Midwestern housewives who sit at home, who formerly popped bennies and ran topless through every jam band show at the local amphitheater. There are the vagrant, longhaired transients who receive stares as they push their cart of nothings around sweaty Southern towns, that formerly received stares only because they were professing at the front of a philosophy class. There are the attention-deficit young men, oft chastised for their inability to focus, but given open creativity, become playwrights and screenwriters. There are the balladeers. There are the celebrities. There is the you. There is the me. And there is Travis Fimmel, sitting in a hotel room in Vancouver, freezing his balls off. His is a story of barefooted farm boy turned bare-bodied model turned actor.

“It’s bloody cold,” he says in a relaxed Australian drawl. Of course it is. Fimmel grew up helping out on the family farm in a small town on the fork of two rivers in the middle of sunburnt Australia. He’s currently in the benumbed west Canadian port city filming Duncan Jones’ Warcraft: a film of epic proportion and expectation. But despite the video game-based spin-off, one gets the feeling Fimmel is the kind of lad who would much rather be chopping wood than mashing plastic buttons on a gaming controller. “I’d never heard of it,” he freely admits.

The path begins. When I ask about his early foray into Australian-rules football, he concedes what stymied the course, “Yeah but I sucked at it, man, I was very bad.” And thus he skipped the sporting life and tried college, “I didn’t pass any classes because
I didn’t end up showing up—I was doing project managing for construction, like a foreman. Architecture and commerce [was the] main part of the course, I didn’t really want to go to college, I was just trying to fill in time…but then I ended up going overseas.” Fimmel wasn’t meant to be a paper-pushing desk jockey; just as Paul fucking Newman wasn’t meant to sling charred chicory at nine-to-fivers. With those baby blues and gilded locks it wasn’t long before Fimmel was modeling, most notably for Calvin Klein and most times wearing not a stitch. Previously Fimmel has played down his years of modeling, crediting favorable lighting, advanced cameras, and Photoshop for his looks and success. In fact, it’s speculated—and blatantly obvious upon viewing—that Fimmel was the inspiration behind Samantha’s washed-out brick-bod lover—“Jerry” Smith Jerrod—on Sex and the City.

The path winds. “Wound up in L.A., got into an acting class and then that’s where I started acting. I had no idea, never wanted to do this stuff, still don’t really want to do it, mate,” he admits. Fimmel is even-keeled, he exudes a thoughtless vibe, and as much as Fimmel plays it all down, one even has to question how hard he worked to get to his current status. Sometimes his nonchalant nature can come off as arrogant, and it’s easy to imagine he’s often misunderstood, but couldn’t care less; he’s just riding the wave. At first, Fimmel took jobs everyone in Hollywood thought would pay dividends but floundered [see: WB’s Tarzan] until he grew a beard and started swinging an axe. Ah, the farm boy swinging the axe again. It’s in History Channel’s Vikings that Fimmel found his niche, receiving acclaim for his portrayal of the contemplative but merciless, Ragnar Lothbrok, a deep-thinking maniac from Viking Age Europe. There is a swagger to his character that is maintained somewhere within Fimmel. When I ask about his association with Ragnar, he states, “Every guy that I know that fights is always the quietest guy in the room; I just try to think more than talk. You’ll always learn more by listening rather than being the loudest guy in the room. And whatever you do, you do because you enjoy it, so I try to make my character enjoy fighting.”

The path straightens. And so we find ourselves back in that Vancouver hotel room, freezing our balls off with Fimmel, as he’s in the midst of shooting the biggest film of his career. With all the aloofness Fimmel radiates, it piques one’s interest to know what he really is passionate about: “Farming, mate. That’s what
I want to do. I love the country. It’s hard to explain. When you grow up in the country you just enjoy it so much. I love animals and I love trees and anything country.”

And, lastly, that beard that’s quickly becoming his trademark: “It just grew I guess,
 I couldn’t for ages. I would have loved to grow one when I was a kid, I would have loved to have gone to prom and school and shit with a beard.”

Nothing to do with shedding the barefaced image of your Calvin Klein days? “[Audibly scoffs] Shit. I couldn’t grow one then. Otherwise I would have had one.”

That would have been a different path.

Photographer: Tony Duran for Stylist: Aaron Cassou. Groomer: Marissa Machado for Photography Assistant: Justin Schwan.