Adam Aalderks talks auditions, Dwayne Johnson and meal plans.
When you hear about an actor that throws away the energy drink that he is drinking to start getting ripped for a role, you take that interview. Adam Aalderks is one of the new stars on the block with his big role on the second season of the HBO hit, Ballers. Aalderks is starring opposite lead actor, Dwayne Johnson as a potential first round draft pick in the next NFL draft. Aalderks character Travis Mach is a player who is used to winning but decides to skip the combine because he, “doesn’t want to be a piece of ass.” You have seen Aalderks on episodes of NCIS: New Orleans and Rectify among others, but keep your eye out for him in the future. Make sure to check out Adam Aalderks as Travis Mach on Ballers on Sunday nights at 10PM on HBO.
Wingman Magazine: Tell us about your character on Ballers this season.
Adam Aalderks: Travis Mach is a linebacker that plays for FSU. He is an incredible athlete that is being looked at for the NFL and desperately needs to get his ego put in check. He’s always won and has always been the go to player, so it’s a really neat dynamic between Spencer ( Dwayne Johnson) and Travis Mach, watching how Spencer uses his own vices to get through and show Travis the way. A lot of to my scenes are with Dwayne. He is an incredible guy to work with and only one or two of my scenes are without him.
Wingman Magazine: When working with Dwayne Johnson…did he give you any kind of tips or direction? He seems like the nicest dude ever.
Adam Aalderks: We talked very candidly in between scenes and I feel for the guy. A guy of his stature gets bombarded with questions about the industry non-stop and you can tell he craves the non-acting candid conversation. He did give some advice there, but the best advice he gave was indirectly. Watching how he interacted with fans, his own little process of approaching a scene, and that Dwayne really gets that the people watching the show are making the show, and his paycheck. He really does truly cherish his fans and I took a lot of pages from the book that he was showing me and I have already tried implementing into my own career. The time with him has been very invaluable.
Wingman Magazine: How did you find out? I hear there is an interesting story.
Adam Aalderks: November 2nd, 2015 I found out. In the Atlanta market of the industry, if you don’t book something by Thanksgiving, you are pretty much done until mid-February. It was getting close and I had no auditions set up and let me guard up, and slipped into vacation-mode for the holidays back home. I had two auditions, one was Ballers so I cranked them and went for it. I didn’t hold anything back, and had fun. In the Ballers audition, I played my guitar and just tried something different and went for it, but I didn’t think I would get it and would have to wait until the February auditions started up. My agent called me on November 2nd and was like, ‘they loved your audition and want to book you for the role.’ This was awesome, but they did have a request that I start a physical training regimen so I could look a linebacker. I was drinking a Monster Energy drink at the time and I immediately threw it away since I knew that wouldn’t help me. Luckily I was a trainer beforehand and knew what I had to do, but I just needed to start it. I asked my agent how long I had and he said, ‘three weeks.’ Anyone in the fitness world knows that three weeks is crazy. Good thing for me was that Dwayne had his baby right at the end of those three weeks so I was given an extra two weeks. It all worked out for the best.
Wingman Magazine: How did you get started in the entertainment business?
Adam Aalderks: When I was a kid I wanted to be either a professional musician, athlete or actor. I had a successful high school career and then went into college and played college football for a while. I got discouraged by all of the meetings and the business side of college football so I wasn’t meant to play in the NFL. Then I toured as a drummer in a band for four years. I tasted what it was like to live out of a van and have lavish meals at McDonalds and and stealing Starbucks WiFi. As fabulous as it sounds, sleeping in a van with five sweaty dudes, is not as pristine as you would think. So I went back and finished my teaching degree at Northern Iowa and told myself that if I ever resent the students or get annoyed, then I will be a bad teacher and I will get out. I became a teacher and that lasted about six hours and I just really hated my job and told myself that I am gonna go for it. I looked at my wife and told her that I had to go and do this (become an actor.) She has been great and said, “okay, let’s do this.” I moved down to Atlanta on September 24th, 2012 to establish myself and get an apartment and a job. I called my wife two weeks later and told her that I couldn’t do it, and that it was just too hard. You can’t book if you don’t have an agent, and you can’t have an agent unless you book. She told me, ‘give it two years and if after two years you don’t book, then you can come home.’ That next weekend I booked my first independent fitness DVD and since then I have been booking consistently and getting bigger roles and now Ballers is my big break. I am very indebted to the whole HBO team and the people at Leverage, and everyone that took a chance on me.
Wingman Magazine: What did you teach for those six hours?
Adam Aalderks: I taught Industrial Education…aka shop class. If you tell a new Industrial Education that it’s a shop class, you will get some dirty looks. ‘Shop class,’ is looked upon as being the lower graded class, but now the IE class is pretty cool and they are doing a lot of STEM, physics, math and Project Lead the Way. It has come a long way since Grease Lightning shop class, working on a car and flipping around a towel. It’s much more engineering than anything else.
Wingman Magazine: Have you gone out for any big films and thought you nailed it, and didn’t book it?
Adam Aalderks: That is the acting way! We all have regular jobs on top of acting and sometimes we think the casting directors forget that. We are working our regular jobs and given a 10 page audition piece for the next day and it’s like, ‘alright, I wasn’t planning on sleeping anyway.’ You devote all of your energy you have into your audition and make a full side breakdown the best that you can and you work it. That’s the fun part of being an actor is the auditions. You go in and you think the audition went better than it ever could and saying, ‘I totally booked that, that was amazing.’ Those are the ones that you never hear from again. The ones you walk out thinking that you did horribly, and you can’t let it go and forget about, and those are the ones that you book. It’s a funny universe that actors live in, where we get so used to being let down that it comes with the job.
Wingman Magazine: Are there any shows that you have to watch weekly?
Adam Aalderks: Ironically enough, I am a huge Discovery Channel fan. If it has the word Alaska in it, I am tivoing it and I am watching every episode. Anything that is really a survival show I tell myself I can do it. I keep telling my wife that I am going on Naked and Afraid! She tells me to get naked and go in the backyard and see if I can survive back there for 21 days. It’s a little different and I am sure the police department would have something to say about it. I also love anything that has to do with cars.
Wingman Magazine: What is your worst audition story?
Adam Aalderks: Going off the fitness part of my life, I have always messed around with meal plans and everything. Anytime that you change your meal time, your “plumbing system” changes as well. I changed my meal plan, the same day I had a big audition. There is a specific casting director in Atlanta that is very hard to impress and please. I showed up for the audition and I was memorized and made bold choices and decided that this was the day I would make this casting director like me. When I am in the holding hallway and got called in, I stood up and suffered the consequences of changing my meal plan that morning. So I am standing in front of her, and I am nervous and get butterflies, which I love, but had something else on my mind. We were doing the audition and I was stoic and she told me to lighten up a little bit, which I was trying to do. We tried it again and she wasn’t satisfied and I knew why. Finally she looked at me and asked if I was ok. I flat out said that I wasn’t feeling great and had to go and use the restroom. She rescheduled my audition for the next day, which didn’t happen and have still never received a call back from her. But now I know, that when you commit to something to watch when you make the adjustments, because that can come back and bite you.