Between the Sheets: Travis Willingham

– Hello, my name is Brian W. Foster and on today’s episode, I sit down for an old-fashioned with Travis Willingham Discussing everything from voiceover, theater, football, and becoming a father All that and more today, on Between the Sheets (perky music) Travis thank you for joining me What are we drinking today? – Th e O.G – Old Fashioned? – That’s right – [Brian] Cheers man – Cheers buddy – Yeah – No muddled fruit in this biatch – Mm-hmm, that’s the secret – Yep – Ooh, that’s good (perky music) So you are a Texas boy – I am – [Brian] Born where? – Dallas, Dallas County, Dallas Texas – So what was home life like for you? You have a brother – Yeah, my brother is 33 He lives in Dallas still, as well – [Brian] You guys have the same exact voice – Yeah – When he’s around – Yeah – [Brian] and I hear him across the house or if we’re at a restaurant or whatever I can’t, I cannot tell the difference between you two – It’s crazy, yeah I often wonder if I sound that dumb sometimes (both men laughing) Or as smart– – [Brian] Is that me? – ‘Cause I hear him laugh and I’m like, “Oh that’s a big dumb idiot laughing.” And then I’m like, “Oh that sounds just like me.” – Probably how I laugh Have you ever been so busy that you had to turn down voiceover jobs and you were like– – There’s my fill in – Do you want to come in? ‘Cause Tom Hanks does that His brother does all of the Woody animate Like the commercials and stuff – Tom Hanks’s brother does? – Yes His brothers voice – No – [Brian] matches him perfectly – I should have thought about that I try to get Carson into like acting right when I was leaving high school because I thought he was such a handsome little bugger But he just can’t take pictures or act lines to save his life I don’t think he would read script very well either (perky music) – You end up getting into theater and acting around what age? – I think the first time I realized that there was such a thing as like drama, was like fifth grade I was super overactive, hyperactive ADD, all that stuff when I was a kid And I loved cartoons so much but I always say that I never really, I never understood as a kid that there was an actual adult behind like my favorite voices in Thundercats, or GI Joe, or SilverHawks, or any of that stuff I just assumed those were real things and real people and didn’t know that was a job My early years were in public school and then we tried a little private school stuff just because I was such a like a pain-in-the-ass kid, and where I was always like “We’re gonna be cursed if “you know, our kids do things like you.” – Turns out the same way – Yeah, and I had an English teacher in the fifth grade at Saint John’s Episcopal School who encouraged like creative writing and some like dramatic readings in front of the class And I volunteered one day with a couple of girls that wanted to do it Like all the boys didn’t want to have anything to do with it I fucking loved it Like I loved it Just like that The make-believe part of it – Did you feel like it harnessed some of that energy that was just kind of going all over the place and creating chaos? – Yeah, – [Travis] ’cause I hated school I was terrible at math I was okay at history Science I was just garbage And I mean like, when I say I hated math, I would like fall asleep in math – Teachers were like I think he has, what’s the disease where– – Chronic fatigue syndrome – That one, yup Or mono, they thought I had mono like all the time So that’s good But it would just wake up a part, something inside of me that I hadn’t really ever explored before And I remember her so well, her name was Trigger That was what we called her Trigger Butler And she would like have us draw a little like makeup comics and makeup like you know, dramatic readings and stuff like that And in doing that she really saw just, you know, sort of the change in me and like the interest I think for any good teacher, if you’re paying attention, you know, when that sort of stuff hits it they try to feed it right, nurture it And there wasn’t really a lot at the school for that There was no drama program or anything, but I think that was in fifth grade and then into sixth grade there was more that she said “You know, if you want to explore more of this “there are other middle schools “You don’t have to stay in the school system “There other middle schools that have more “fine arts programs.” And I was like “What are you talking about?” There’s like drama and musicals and one-acts and that all sounded terrifying, right But she was sort of the person that pushed me back out of the private school system and back into public school where those things were more prominent And I remember leaving sixth grade and going with her to a play at like the local middle school that was being put on Which you know it’s like a shit production

– Yeah of course, yeah – It’s middle school – [Travis] I thought it was like the fucking greatest thing I’d ever seen – Really? And you wanted to do, you’re like I wanna to do this – Yeah, just enraptured Like you know, crap made-up choir teacher written songs, synthesizers, stuff But like and the kids were like doing the box step You know and shit I was in love Like I was just like, this is fucking amazing! I look around, everybody’s enraptured you know? I was like I want to I want to do this And my mom’s like, “Do you want to do that?” I was like, “Yeah, I want to do that.” She was like, “Okay.” And my dad’s like, whatever, whatever Fine – Did they want you to follow any specific path or were they pretty open to whatever would work at that point? – I think I mean I think at that point, when your kid actually like declares that they’re interested or passionate about something, you’re like “Oh, thank god.” – They have an interest – Yeah something, right? Let’s see if we could feed it and we’ll just see what comes out of it I think my dad was a little bit like “Oh God.” We’re going into acting But I think my mom just recognized that all the energy that I had as a kid and you know, trying to give me different outlets Whether it was you know sports, or art classes I mean you know from the second I would get out of school every day, she had me in like every extracurricular program you could think of Just like back to back Like a sport and then you know maybe like pottery class over here and then like maybe another sport just to like run the energy out of me – Yeah, just to keep it going? – Yeah, so she was really glad just to see that be you know, a focus and kind of like, “If you don’t do your schoolwork you can’t be in the show.” So I think they were encouraged by that, but I think at that time they didn’t know that it was gonna be something that would, you know, be the thing that I pursued for like the rest of my– – For the rest of your life really – I mean I think about the times when I didn’t have stuff to do and Jesus, you know? It was like melting Ninja Turtles in the alley behind some kids house with like motor oil and styrofoam trying to concoct napalm Like keep your kids busy, holy hell – Yeah, I hate to break it to you but those weren’t Ninja Turtles Those were just regular Turtles you melted – Oh no, oh geeze – Pete is coming after us So then did you leave that Episcopal School to go– – [Travis] I did – To a school that had actual drama programs? – Yep yep I left in the sixth grade I went to J.L. Long Middle School in Dallas, which was right next door to the high school I ended up going to which was Woodrow Wilson And Woodrow, the high school was always known for its like a very well-regarded fine arts program – [Brian] Really? – Yeah, like one-act plays and these really expensive musical productions And I hadn’t seen any any of that yet I’d just seen the the middle school stuff Kids were bigger and they were older It was hopping back into like a crowd of kids that I had known from elementary school, but I had been gone for two years so it was sort of like a reintroduction of that whole thing It’s so funny, Laura had I guess a high school experience where, which I guess is pretty typical Where like the choir and the musical programs are kind of like the nerdy side of the school She hates it, but at my school, the cool kids were in choir, in musical Like that’s where the it crowd was If you wanted to hang out with like the coolest, it was in fucking show choir – That’s weird That is a little different than most schools, yeah – [Travis] I know, I know, but– – Did you sing too then? – I did, I did, I did I kind of always sang as a kid, just because my mom, we all grew up in church And so like, you know, she’d be there– – You’d hear all that singing stuff – Belting her ass off I could sing pretty well and then, you know, sure enough like sheet music I had to learn you know how to sight-read and stuff like that And the do re mi fa so la ti (imitates fart) stuff Didn’t really retain it, didn’t take to that side of it Like the technical aspects of music, but I just loved it like the performing, the energy and stuff like that Did the musicals there, did a little bit of sports still I had kind of fallen away from like sports I guess in that private school year time Just because we were trying to figure out what the, or you know, what it was that I was inspired by or to do And you know, half way through middle school I kind of hit that crazy growth spurt where I grew like, you know, six inches in a summer and all of a sudden changed, you know, a bunch of stuff (perky music) – What age were you then when you started to get into sports stuff? Was it was it kind of 50/50 of sports and artistic stuff or was one more dominant than the other when you were growing up? – Yes, it was weird ’cause I, I was always a slightly taller but in weird proportions on my body Like I was an automatic (chuckling) We’re just gonna go back to the beginning now – That’s good – I was an automatic c-section ’cause my dome was too large, right? It was just one of those things like “Ma’am your sons said is too large.” – I’ve seen pictures It’s the size it is now – Yeah, it’s like a balloon on a string It’s kind of crazy And when I was little I’d have like a larger upper torso, long arms, but I could like tickle the bottom of my knee Like my legs weren’t super long It’s just kind of gangly and weird Having all the energy that I had

I tried every sport possible My dad was massive into sports right Football, baseball He loved basketball – Did he play anything or he loved watching and then following the sports? – I mean, he didn’t play anything professionally, but in high school he would always tell me stories about how you know in high school sports changed his life Literally his life Like the relationships that he formed and the experiences that he had were things that he was going to remember forever Even when I was tiny right So you know his baseball team, he knew all the way through high school and afterward His football group he still kept in touch with till this day The basketball stars that he followed were things that I would love I loved football but I wasn’t really all that partial to like basketball or baseball And there were there were parts of him that I could see that kind of– – Disappointed a little bit? – Disappointed, yeah a little bit So being being like this kind of lanky kid, one of the the stories I’d like to tell, and I’ll probably tell my son a lot is in youth football, there are all these like youth football helmets And then this one adult small And then a bunch of other youth football helmets It’s just this domed kid And I was good when I was younger I was you know fast and everything And I was just a little bit taller and then everybody kind of evened out And so I just kind of moved away from sports a little bit and tried more artsy stuff And then when that growth spurt kicked back in like in middle school, teachers and coaches are like “Hey who’s the tall kid?” It’s like oh that’s that Travis kid that you hate so much that never shuts up and makes weird noises and is like (speaks gibberish) in all the classes “Get him into uniform, let’s try him out for stuff.” So it was like a re-indoctrination back into sports a little bit – So you did high school football – I did, but only the last two years of high school It was so funny, even though I was growing taller I was still like the nerdy kid that liked comic books and video games And didn’t really like contact sports Like a lot of other kids I was bullied like a ton in elementary school and middle school So when I hit the growth spurt and I came back and some of the kids that were like real true dicks that were all of a sudden like down here There was a little bit of comeuppance for that Just, you know, socially and at school But I never felt the desire to go around and like shove people or like hit people I was always It was always more important to me that like, because you could see you could see the difference between like previous to this Because it all happened over summer right So when I left school and I’d just be looking at eye level with somebody and then I came back and I saw him at school and they were looking up at me slightly, right There was just a different like body language and it always like bothered me And so I just wanted them to know that I was still normal They weren’t gonna see me all of a sudden showing up and like you know, shoving ’em or going like, “Hey, what’s up?” – Yeah, throughout the time that I’ve known you you’ve been sensitive to you know jokes or conversation about being put into that jock bully stereotype because you did grow up a nerd Were you the, one of the only real nerds that was doing you know sports and into stuff like that? But also mixing with theater and musical stuff? – Yeah, and being in Texas like, all my coaches would call me like Thes for Thespian and you know, choir boy and all that stuff And nerd is relative to Texas because And I tell Taliesin this I remember being in a typing class and seeing a Vampire The Masquerade book Big ass book And leaning over to this kind of gothy kid that I hadn’t really said much to And I was like “What is that?” And he was like “Oh, it’s vampire.” I was like, “I like vampires, what’s vampire.” He’s like, “Oh, it’s a role-playing game.” I’m like, “What do you mean?” – [Brian] What’s that? – We meet at the park at like four o’clock after school and we pretend to be vampires I was like, “I don’t understand.” – Can’t you guys not walk around in daylight? – Yeah, and he goes, “Do you want to look at the book?” And of course you know, like, you open the players handbook and then you’re like, nope ‘Cause it’s just so big That was the only time I saw it So I wasn’t like a hard hard core nerd, but I was into comic books and video games And anybody that likes musicals, that’s pretty nerdy But yeah, it was just, there were so many people that didn’t, they didn’t have the Ambassador on the sports side of things So like when people from the lacrosse team or the football team would be shitty to those people, it was really easy for me to be like stop So that was always something I was really like proud of – So you ended up using your size and sort of the changes that have happened to you to kind of create a shield between people like that and people that could have ended up getting bullied – Yeah, that was kind of the hope right And more of it, it was more just like I would be in the locker room and people would be talking about so-and-so kid did this in the hallway or in this class that I wasn’t there with And I’d just try and pop in and be like “Nah, that guy’s actually pretty cool.” Like he plays the same Nintendo 64 game at the time or Super NES or you know, whatever that you play

And he’s good at it and stuff like that And they were like “Word?” I’m like, “Yeah.” It was just trying to like bridge the gaps between like, I didn’t understand why everybody couldn’t be Because I would be in both sides of it and both sides would be welcoming And the choir people be like, “You got football practice?” Football guys would be like “You gotta go act “and put on your tights?” And I was like “Yeah bitch.” – But it is weird that we create those separations in the time of our lives that were in high school and stuff socially Because I think a lot of people are figuring themselves out so much still that they only really have bandwidth to align themselves with one group of people– – Like a tribal thing right? – Exactly, it’s sort of tribal and you were able to kind of live in both worlds – Yeah because I was forced out of one end to the other and I saw how kind of pointless it was Plus those people, you know, hindsight in your 30s, you can see that the people that were in some tribe that you may never saw when you’re in high school or even college are people that you’re working alongside with every day When you’re an adult So, I think it’s just important for people to explore and push and not pay attention to that shit (perky music) – What’s one of your favorite theater productions that you were a part of? – So my sophomore year was the first time that I was ever cast in a part that was on the high school stage And I remember, like I said, I was transfixed with the musical production of middle school But when I went to high school they did this big Proscenium Arts Theater, it was built in 1918 I think So they had all wooden chairs, high balcony, these floor-to-ceiling industrial almost factory windows with these long red drapes – Wow – It still at one of the most gorgeous theaters I’ve ever been in in this high school And actually being on that stage and seeing all those people was something I’ll never forget But my sophomore year was a musical called Crazy For You and I remember I was cast along with like all the seniors And I had to play a part – That’s a big deal – [Travis] that the senior lead had to like mimic and I had like this Russian accent which was this crazy deal It was just like– – You sound like Sofia Vergara (both men laughing) – Do you think I look just as pretty as she does? I bet you I do – Anyway, sorry – Yeah, so I just remember Crazy For You stuck out in my mind I was like man, what is this? And they’re like “Oh it’s Gershwin “We’re hitting Hammerstein.” That’s where you started to learn about older musicals That one was just, I just remember being so taken with all of the older classmen And wanting to do what they did and learn what they knew (perky music) It was one of the coolest parts of I think the whole fine arts department at Woodrow at the time (perky music) – Was fitting in important to you at all? I mean it sounds like you really carved a path for yourself because part of it was survival, part of it was I follow these interests because I need to It’s healthy for me And part of it was I follow this because I’m interested in it – I mean yes, right I think it would be cooler to say like, no I didn’t care about fitting in But yeah, like the truth is that I was terrified in high school I was scared fucking shitless and I was six two, six three at the time Nearing 200 pounds Even then you become the unintended center of attention for certain things that didn’t happen before You might have been bullied before for being shorter, but Jesus it’s a whole different thing when you’re the big guy Right, because then you find people that want to find the big guy and like start some shit Maybe prove something when you haven’t done anything And I grew up in a high school that was like very mixed race I think like you know white students made up like 11% of the population So I learned very early – Wow – [Travis] just like how to mingle right And we had some serious like, we had some gang activity going on in East Dallas at the time And I knew a lot of guys that were in some shit I think there were a lot of like jocks and other people that were like, “No, I’m not gonna make anybody laugh, “fuck that.” I’ll make you laugh if it spares me anything at any point right It’s the easiest thing to give Laughter just connects everybody and it’s such a tension diffuser There was one of the earliest things that I learned there (perky music) – [Brian] How old were you when you lost your dad? – Right, I was 14, a freshman high school when my dad passed from cancer I think we found out when I was in seventh grade that dad was like sick He had like tennis elbow So we went in and got it checked out Sat us around the breakfast table when you’re like you know 12 and I think my brother was nine “Dad’s sick, we’re gonna do some treatment “and stuff like that.” But we didn’t really think much of it And then they come back and a couple months later and be like “Dad we’re gonna try this other thing.” And so dad’s gonna shave his head, try some chemo and stuff like that – Did you gather at that point

the weight of what was going on or was it still confused? – No – [Travis] It was so slow Because there’s no fucking internet So cancer, you would you would say it to another kid or maybe like to a teacher or like a Sunday-school teacher and you would see their face do something if they knew what it was You’re like “Oh, is that bad? “I’m sure he’ll be fine” But was it was such a slow process of seeing like oh this hair is gonna go, oh he’s losing some weight, stuff like that We were like, it’s taking years Surely we’ll work something out And then in my freshman year in 1995 he finally passed when I was a freshman – How did that change things at home? – Oh man, I mean– – Because going into freshman year of high school alone as we’ve talked about with all the stuff going on has its own challenges and its own fears and all that stuff But then you sort of lose the anchor, one of the anchors in your family – Like the anchor, right And I mean, my mom is the anchor of that family because she’s shown us what like bravery and courage really is Especially with everything that’s going on But the single most pivotal moment of my life was watching my dad go through that and then pass Because you know I often say that like if you have a kid that’s like hyperactive or has ADD, I think a lot of that is just taken care of with puberty when your body goes through a natural change – But I was also a big slap dick I was the kid that loved comics and goofed around and kind of broke the rules and would push boundaries and not really think about consequences or have any exercise any foresight And my parents would always be like, “Why did you do that thing?” And I would be like “I don’t know.” And my dad would be like, “That’s not an answer “You had to have a thought in your brain “What were you thinking?” And I was like, “I wasn’t thinking anything, “I was just doing.” He was like, “You gotta think ahead.” And I would always remember him saying that And so when that happened it made life very real It took it out of the context of like, you know, the comic books, or movies, and watching things die, and people be sad But you didn’t really have– – A connection to it – Yeah, you didn’t have anything that made it real And watching how that affected my mom and my brother and just what it did to my world Just changed everything in an instant I would say in the course of a month I just became a different person – Did you feel like you had to grow up a lot faster because you know, just you two boys and your mom there? – Yeah, I think I think anybody that loses a parent at that age, you have to, right Especially if you’re an older sibling – Yeah, I was gonna say, you pretty much take care of Carson after that and look out for him – Yeah, and it’s so tough when you’re a kid that’s still trying to figure it out because I remember thinking things like, “I wish my dad would see me in these shows I feel like I’m really good and he never did He was even sick when I was in middle school so he never made any of those And then all of a sudden I got really big and I was like man I want him to come see me play in these football games I’m destroying guys and he never made those And so that was tough But I was trying to figure out myself so much that I, I often have a lot of regrets about not doing more for my younger brother and not shepherding him through that because I was so focused on me – And you were so young too I mean there’s not a ton you even had the emotional bandwidth to be able to be there for ‘Cause you guys were both so young when it happened – And you learn so much about the human experience and what it’s like to be a parent and what it’s like to have soul mates and see your mom go from holding out hope to like what’s today like? It was weird, finally after like the funeral was over and stuff, going back to school and then thinking like, “What’s my mom doing like at home, like right now “all by herself?” So it was it was really, it was really tough and it forced you to let go of like petty shit and really forced me to get my shit together Because you could see that she was trying to keep everything together And I realized at that point that the best thing I could do for her was to make myself not be a burden – Wow – Not be a problem – Wow – If I could take care of myself, that was the best thing that I could do – That’s a mixture of thought for somebody at that age But ultimately it’s what was best for your family – Yeah, yeah And I think there was a part of me that wanted to I don’t know if that always happens in everybody, but that realization, I was like that, that’s what I want to do If there’s anything I can do to help her now, and all it is is just making sure that I’m not a problem, that’s what I’m gonna do – Do you feel like a lot of the connection that you had to sports growing up and still do to this day is because it is one of those things that you and your dad shared and that was so important to him and you definitely want to carry that on in your life – Yeah, definitely definitely I love football I love my Dallas Cowboys Our Dallas Cowboys – [Brian] Yes

– And part of that is like you know, especially now people are like, “How can you like football? “It’s so barbaric and there’s this whole “concussion protocol and CTE “and the game is more dangerous than it’s ever been.” There’s also the argument it’s the safest it’s ever been And that’s all true All of it is true and there’s a place for all of it But there’s also like this tradition and there are memories that are formed sort of in the colors of the uniform and just the experiences that you had with your family members I always remember hustling home from church on Sundays Central Standard Time And trying to get home for the Cowboys game, and if we were lucky we like shoveled in our food while my mom is yelling like, “Chew your food!” We’re just like mouth fulls of it And then sitting there for the Cowboys game and more watching my dad watching the game as he like cursed and yelled at the TV And trying to figure out what he was pissed about but being like “Yeah yeah, yeah” with him And if we were lucky we would have like a root beer float or something And that is ingrained like in my mind And we were great in the 90s and then shit after that And it’s funny how you want to see your team do well Almost for like the memory of that person To see them so passionate about a team Like when they start sucking or when things start going poorly you feel like this weight Or when they’re really close to an achievement and they fall short I was surprised last year, or two years ago actually I think you were over for the playoff game – Yeah I was, yeah – With with Dak and the Packers I started like tear up at the end of the game And I was like “I’m sorry “I don’t know, I don’t know “This is totally surprised to me.” – It was the closest we had been in a while – That’s right – And I could tell it was bringing up a lot of stuff for you because it is such an important part of your life as it was for your childhood too – It surprised me I was like, I want it for me, but I want it for like the memory of my dad, and my brother and myself And to like share that and to have something that’s like good And so for me the Cowboys will always be that Even if they’re just garbage, you’re like constantly hoping that they’ll do more And I am looking forward to making sure that my son has plenty of Cowboys paraphernalia Just to just to choose from – Just to choose from – Because while we are in LA and there is a team here– – I don’t know what you’re talking about – [Travis] I know I know – What was the biggest lesson or maybe just the lesson that ended up sticking with you most to this day that you learned from your dad? Either by watching him or something that he, you know, actually taught you or wanted to pass on to you? – That’s such a good question You know, to me my dad was like larger than life Just such a character He was somebody that would go into a room and tell a story and he would have grown men and tears because he had them laughing and they’d be red in the face, and these big belly chuckles He would always come home from these like sales and marketing trips and talk about how he had just like owned some presentation right He worked with like the Salvation Army for a while and so he would go into these military meetings and they all look like they were bored and tired of being there And he walked in and I remember him standing in the living room and he would be like “I walked in and with “10 hut!” And like everybody like shot up and he’s like, “All right listen up now!” He was in the military for like a hot second Just the like the charismatic energy that he had and the way that it would affect people, I always saw that that was something that maybe I could do and that the energy that I had as a kid could be channeled through maybe more of like a gregarious personality right That if you could entertain people and make them laugh, that you could really connect with them faster And that was always something that I wanted to, I don’t know, I hope you know take from him or be able to like carry instead There wasn’t any particular lesson There were a ton of work hard, take care of your mom, you know no one comes before your brother Things like that Just family bond blood all that stuff But just who he was and how he affected the people around him, that’s how I wanted to make people feel they were in my life – And you do You definitely do, I can say that – Thanks (perky music) – So you go to TCU, did you continue both acting and sports? – I tried I tried The football was cool and I got like some scholarships and stuff, but I was a better swimmer I was like a 50 free 100 free medley freestyle swimmer Decent at butterfly as well And so I got some offers for football, I got like a real crappy offer to go to TCU for swimming But I showed up and man they swim three times a day and I wanted to do acting and so the theater scholarship that I took didn’t leave a lot of time for sports

So I was like “Alright I’m gonna give this “theater thing a shot.” And so that was when I kind of transitioned from sports and like team sports into just like weightlifting Just going into a weight room and trying to figure out what the hell you did in there for an hour You see people wandering around and they’re like looking at themselves in the mirror and their sleeves are cut off And you’re like “What the fuck?” I don’t know what these fucking machines do Does my head go there? You don’t know, you don’t want to ask like the guy and go like, “Hey bro, what the fuck does that one do?” – I have a hard time picture you walking into a gym and not knowing what to do with the equipment in there – Just like everybody else – It seems if there’s ever – [Brian] a time where that would be true – Nope, just like everybody else, I would walk in and look like real confident A bunch of gum in my mouth And maybe if you were lucky in the machine didn’t have the faded instruction panel on the side were like told you which – Yeah, yeah, you could – [Travis] muscle group it activated But that was it for like for sports for a while and it was just it was just theater after that – [Brian] Just theater? – Straight up theater And a little musical theater – So then after college, when do you get in voiceover? When did that come into your life? – Right So in college, while I was in my fraternity as long as I was in it Once you’re in the fraternity it’s like, a bunch of guys walking around the hallways drinking white Russians and not going to class And I was like “Oh I don’t have time for that.” – You were like, I don’t have enough polo shirts to be in this fraternity – I mean, they were a bunch of kids that can do like six-year College runs, but I was like I’m trying to get out of here before my scholarship runs out And while I was in my fraternity, the guys that I would hang with and guys that I knew from the football team, I tried to walk on and it didn’t last very long They loved Dragon Ball Z And it was this show Didn’t know it was anime at the time That came on Adult Swim like 4:30 in the afternoons And it had these fucking like ripped muscley guys with spiky hair and every time they would get angry they would power up and they would, you know, their muscles would grow bigger and veins would pop and they blow up planets and shit I was like “Oh my god, this is the best!” Why isn’t this real? We were watching we didn’t know anything about it and then we found out that it was anime and that it was done by a company in Dallas-Fort Worth And I was like “Well Jesus, that’s where we are.” And one day in the chapter room as the credits were going up I saw the name Laura Bailey And Laura bailey was a girl that was at my talent agency in Dallas at the time I had signed up with his after I left high school and I had seen her at you know some gigs where we were extras and in auditions and stuff And had like you know nice small talk I saw her name when I was like “Oh, oh my god! “She’s working on this thing!” So I called my agent I was like, “Suzanne!” Suzanne Horn at the time I was like “Suzanne could I have Laura Bailey’s number?” And she was like “Why?” I was like, “No, no she’s on the show Dragon Ball Z “I just want to talk to her about it “and figure out how she, see if I can do that.” She was like “Okay, I’ll give you her number, “don’t be weird.” I’m like, “Okay.” And so she picks up the phone, she was like, “Hello.” And I just like screamed into the phone I was like, “Oh my god, you’re the (speaks gibberish) And she was like, “Who is this?” – Why are you freaking out on me? – More of it was just like, “You watch Dragon Ball Z?” And I was like, “Yeah! “A lot of people do “I know a lot of people that do.” And she goes, “Oh, weird.” Because at that time it hadn’t even really like exploded yet – Taken off – [Travis] And so, she was like, “Oh it’s in Fort Worth “I don’t know if they hold auditions.” You know, kind of like the brush-off I was like “Well cool, if you hear anything let me know.” And then I would see her at other auditions for commercials and stuff and I was like “Hey, are they are they doing any? “Can you put in a good word?” And she was like “Yes “I told them about you.” And I was like, “You did?” She’s like, “Yeah yeah I told them.” If they have auditions they’ll call you And I was like amazing Two years – Did you think she was serious or were you– – Totally Bought it, right? – So you were waiting by the phone then – She’s a great actress – Yeah, well that’s true – And nothing right, nothing And finally there was a director that I did a show with in Fort Worth that I was like, “Hey, that was a great show “You have a good voice.” And I was like “Oh thanks man.” And he goes “We do voiceover it at Funimation.” I was like I know– – I’ve been trying to get a job there – Yeah, I was like I heard Laura Bailey’s been like dropping my name He was like, I’ve never fucking heard of you before It’s like she hasn’t said shit Just like the sweater unraveled I called her and I was like, “You lied to me!” He’s like, “We’re having auditions for this new show “called Full Metal Alchemist.” And I was like, “Not interested “Dragon Ball Z though, I’m your guy.” He goes, “Dragon Ball Z is done.” I was like (imitates crying) I was like, “It’s still on TV!” He goes, “Yeah, we record them way in advance.” – [Brian] Way ahead of time – I have no idea how that shit works He’s like, “Well come audition for the show “It’s cool, I’ll send you the character sides.” There’s this guy named Roy Mustang.” I was like, That’s cool name.” He’s like, He’s a flame Alchemist.” I’m like, “Sounds cool, don’t know what that means.” And I went in and read for it And I went in and I remember I was going in and I kept wanting to like power up Like in the audition and be like (imitates growling) And he’s like, “There’s no fighting

– This isn’t Street Fighter – “in this audition scene – [Travis] “Just read.” And I kept trying to like act And he was like “Okay, you’ve never done this before?” I’m like, “No.” And he goes “Just talk, just talk “Stop trying act “Like I can tell you’re a great actor, “I saw you on the stage “Just read the lines to me like you were talking to me.” And that’s after like 10 minutes And that went okay I didn’t totally fuck it up And they cast me as this character Roy Mustang That show recording, which I think started in my junior year of college was the most intensive like, spirit-crushing time ever in voiceover because it was like boot camp You had to learn mic technique and not to travel off the mic and do all this you know crazy shit – And you’re you’re dubbing so you’re having to like sync match – Lip flap – [Brian] Yeah, lip flaps – You had to read the line and then like kind of look up and see the mouth doing this I always say if you can dub anime you can do anything else So it’s sort of like how people refer to soap operas is like boot camp for acting – Yeah, boot camp – That’s how I started in voiceover And then I did a few shows there in Dallas And then my cousin Tyler was like, “Hey man, I’m going to California, you wanna go?” I was like “Oh no, God that sounds so risky “and like brave and courageous “And Jesus, I don’t even know how to “make a living as an actor.” And he’s like, “Pretty sure California’s “where you do that.” I’m like, “No no no, “I have to get like a career going here.” And he’s like, “In Texas?” I was like “Yeah yeah “I mean, you know, they shoot stuff down here.” He’s like, “Nah, come out man, come out.” I’m like “I don’t know.” So I asked my mom about it and she’s like, “Go for six months or something.” I was like, “Really?” She’s like, “Yeah, try it.” And never came back (perky music) – [Brian] You bartended it for a little bit when you got here right? – Oh my god Like all the odd jobs You too though right? You’ve done although like– – I’ve done everything – A barback, bartend, valet, bouncer, catering, operative You would just find these jobs in between I remember I had to wear like a pink bow tie and cummerbund and work like baby showers Like plate passing and like here’s a veggie sushi roll – Do you have photos of that? – Nope, no I came out and it was, I was shit It was expensive out here and I had five roommates in a house in Hollywood Right over by the 101 Cafe – [Brian] Oh yeah? – Yup And we try and go out for commercials and TV spots Had dreams of being a big TV or film star And every audition I got for TV, it was like for cop B Or Soldier F I was like oh, cause the size, I get it The thing I would hear often is they’re like, “Man you’re tall.” I was like “Oh, that’s what it is And one casting director was finally like “You know the average actor height is like five nine to five 11 Maybe six foot So if we cast you, that person that could be a lead all of a sudden look super short Or have to shoot everything on an apple box and they normally don’t want to do She’s like you would never work with a Tom Cruise or a Chuck Norris – Right, yeah Chuck’s working a lot these days – Yeah, big time – You’re like – The comeback – [Brian] “I’ll never do a Bowflex commercial.” Is that what you’re telling me? – God damnit Well he had Walker Texas Ranger which shot in Dallas And I went and auditioned once and the casting director was like, “You can’t ever come back.” – Because you’re just so big – She’s like, “We’re not gonna use you.” Okay – He would look so small next to you – [Travis] I know – So then did you do any voiceover auditions and stuff when you got here? Was it really not in mind because you were kind of trying to focus on doing TV and commercials and stuff? – Yeah, not at all – [Travis] I was like, “Maybe I’ll do some theater.” If I’m going to Los Angeles I’m definitely gonna be a movie star – [Brian] Right – Right – [Brian] That’s a given – Like this is where shit happens I’m here, let’s go ahead and start this thing Everybody can just stop waiting for me, I’m here I’ll go to maybe an audition or two and by then I’ll be famous – Resume show business, I have arrived – Yeah, not a problem Man, that just didn’t happen at all And I think I was here for maybe a year and a half or maybe even two years And I was working with an agency Imperium Seven, Marty Anhalt Who we know And she said, “Hey, you’ve got like a good voice.” I was like “Hey, thanks.” And she was like do you want to read for like video game copy? I was like what the fuck are you talking about? And she was like “We audition characters in video games.” I was like, “Right.” There’s acting in video games Right, of course And I was like “I would love to do that.” And I told her the story about like cartoons and never really thinking they were real people And she goes we audition for those too And I just kinda stopped I was like, “You do cartoons here?” She said “Where do you think they did them?” I was like “I don’t know, not in the United States.” Maybe Canada, I don’t know And so I started auditioning for some video game stuff and cartoon work I still wasn’t very good I was really good at dubbing

You know, fitting and designated flaps, but when it was just free and didn’t have to conform to any kind of space it was kind of limited I found myself really like nervous and too cautious to like take chances or do anything unique or just make a bold choices stick to it – You think that’s because you didn’t have the experience yet? – Yup Yeah experience and just nerve I’ve always had a little bit of a self-confidence problem Like whether it was going into high school, or college, or going into acting I think of all the things that are going against me Whether it’s being too tall, or having too deep a voice, or I saw her facial expression That definitely has to do with me even though it might not And I just like started second-guessing myself It took years to realize that if you’re there for the audition, that time is yours And in any casting situation they want you to be the person They want you to be amazing so they can stop casting All right they want you to be incredible So make that time yours and gives a shit like how it goes If it sucks, then just let it go because there’s gonna be another one And that’s a hard lesson learn and it took a long while for that to sink in (perky music) – When you started actually getting into doing it regularly, voiceover, did you like that more than the hustle of trying to do the on-camera thing? Because you grew up enjoying a lot of that stuff in video games and stuff so much Did it end up sort of fulfilling a different part of you? – Yeah It was much in the same way as seeing that musical for the first time in middle school Like doing voiceover I was like “Oh shit, “these are my people.” Because I wanted to be in TV and film and would still like it just because it would be fun to do But it wasn’t anything that I was like aspiring or dying to do I love movies, love films I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings and all these things But that’s just because I’m a fan I love voiceover because you’re not confined by any of those other things And the things that I love about theater which is you’re not confined by the way that you look, what your stature is, the color of your skin, what your voice sounds like You can change all that shit with your voice, makeup, costuming Really use your imagination You’re all sharing in this you know inclusive participation of the mind And voiceover is the same way And so when you know I would see a picture of like a grizzled 50’s scar down his face, bald with a cigar hanging out of his mouth, one eye missing He’s all in like this mech armor holding some big space rifle I was like, “Oh, I don’t think I’m supposed “to read for him.” He was like “You can’t sound like that guy?” I was like– – Yeah you can – Oh shit – [Travis] Yeah, I mean I guess I can try Something That sort of introduction takes time as well because there aren’t a lot of people that will pop in and go like “Hey man, you can do this.” Most of the time that you show up they’re like, “Can you do this?” For a lot of like young actors, a lot of the biggest advice I give is like get over the fact that you’ll go to a class or meet a teacher that’s gonna all of a sudden make you amazing Start practicing Like reading and doing voices like a psychopath in your own room And get used to being a boob And maybe your roommate hearing you or something like that And then when that’s ready, then you’re ready to go and audition – Yeah, because if you can conquer that sort of embarrassment or whatever, then when you’re getting in a room and there’s a bunch of people behind the glass that are all on their phones or whatever– – Not you giving a shit – Exactly – So I mean they’re hammering away on an email and you’re giving the performance of your life! They couldn’t give a shit and you’re like, “I’m bombing it.” – You’re dying in a trench over here Yeah, they’re like trying to figure out how– – Are you not crying? Are you not crying at this performance? – Are you not entertained? – Are you heartless! (perky music) – Having grown up playing video games and then watching animated stuff and getting into voiceover and all that, at what point did that take over and you go “Okay, I think this is actually “where the career trajectory is going “I’m gonna take the leap of faith “and quit these other jobs that I’m doing “because I want to just focus on this 100%.” When did that point come through? – Man, you know, I don’t even remember the year that it was But it was entirely based off of finances Because I mean, LA, half of it is just surviving Just paying for rent, making sure you have enough for some fucking ramen noodles and you know hopefully your utilities don’t shut off – Enough gas to get to the audition – Yeah yeah I mean I had roommates as long as I could just to try and keep rent down And then I remember I had an apartment in like Koreatown that was whoa It was some shady biz I had one of the like tiny 400 square foot apartments that had the kit, like the security door on the door of the apartment inside the building

– Oh wow, wow – I didn’t care I was like “Whoo, it’s secure.” And once there were enough jobs to quit being you know a valet, and a bouncer, and doing all that other stuff because you know staying up late at night doesn’t make you very much bushy tailed in the morning Then I really started trying to push that more And it was like any sort of job experience Like work begets work So even if it seemed like the most insignificant job, it led to something else and a connection that somebody else heard and that led to something else And so, that momentum helped a lot It was a real easy conversation just to say like, I might have to drive for 45 minutes to get to this audition that I won’t book for this TV commercial and maybe get a parking ticket You know in LA – A $350 parking ticket – And then drive all the way back or I can audition from my closet and send out 10 voiceover auditions So that was like, clearly this is much easier to do And if it pans out, it pans out And it did So I just kind of followed I guess where the road was going (perky music) – At what point did Laura Bailey stop seeing your name come up on the caller ID and instead of throwing her phone across the room she started smiling and getting excited that it was you on the phone? ‘Cause you guys knew each other when you were younger – We did We actually dated In the college years We were in an independent movie while we were both in college And like young actors do, had a little fling Definitely went to like BJ’s Brewery restaurant, wherever it is We’d get like a bucket of Coronas and then went and watched Freddy vs. Jason And it was just like– – That’s a good date – Romance It’s just straight romance – I like that – But being you know a young college idiot I was an asshole Like eventually one day I was like, “I don’t want to get locked down “I’m just gonna, I’m not gonna call her back.” And she didn’t take that very well – Well I would hope not – I know, yeah She was like, “Oh, fuck you.” So there was a number of years where she was just like, we didn’t talk And I had moved out to LA and we both had like these separate serious relationships She had one, I had one that lasted for a few years And they both, as the universe would have it, kind of ended around the same time And put us sort of in the same general area – ‘Cause she ended up moving out here – Well I profusely apologized for being a jerk because as we were in that same space the ice queen was hitting me with some daggers Trust me, I was feeling the chill And so I was like, “All right I’m sorry, “I was a jerk, please forgive me “I’m a better person now.” She’s like “Okay.” And she was like “I’m thinking of moving to Los Angeles.” And I was like well “Hey, that can be really hard “I could help you find an apartment “and introduce you to some people” and just try and return – I also have a very secure apartment in Koreatown if you needed to stay over There’s a door outside my door – Yup, yup, there are multiple doors And in no way will you life be in jeopardy going from your car to the apartment building And during that trip where I was trying to help her find a place to stay, some sake bombs may have happened I may have snorted some unfiltered sake in an attempt to impress her at a beachfront – Snorted unfiltered sake to impress a girl? – Listen, Tom Cruise sang you’ve lost that loving feeling right, classic I snorted unfiltered sake into my nose through a straw, kept a straight face, and told her that it was refreshing – Wow – Did it so well she bought that shit and did it herself – Right after you then? – Right then, right then – [Brian] What was her reaction? – It was pure murder Like pain, screaming, the waitress “You guys to need to keep it down.” And that would lead to our romance (perky music) – You’ve done some on-camera stuff, The Guardian, the legendary Nip/Tuck – That’s right – [Brian] episode which is still my wallpaper when you call me And then Secondhand Lions is another one – [Travis] That’s right, yeah – A lot of people don’t know you did MoCap for the frost giants in the Thor movie – Yes, that’s true, yeah – Didn’t you hurt yourself on that? – I did I was so excited to be cast to do MoCap in the Thor movie I was like “Does this make me a part of the MCU?” And he was like “Sure.” – He’s like just sign the god damn paper – You know your face isn’t gonna be there – You’re gonna be here for two hours, who gives a shit? – So during the first day there was a sequence where the frost giants were supposed to run off this shelf And it’s like four feet off the ground Run off the shelf, jump, and then as you’re coming down through the air, punch the ground and a bunch of like ice shards are gonna spread out And I was so amped up that I went and ran and jumped off the platform and threw my fist through the ground as hard as I could

And it’s just concrete with a layer of carpet over it and just like shattered this knuckle And like my whole hand turned purple But I did it and I came up and was like – [Brian] I’m fine, I’m fine – He’s like, “You okay? “It was really loud.” I was like, “I’m fine “I’m good “I’m ready to go again.” – You wanna to do this one more time? – On the second one it was like – Yeah it was just open palm – Like trying to throw a ball with your left hand All the dinosaur that appeared was a T-Rex It was terrible But yeah, yeah – But you were so stoked to be there, it was like, – So stoked – [Brian] I’m gonna push through it – I believed that Kenneth, Sir Kenneth Branagh, director of Thor personally selected me to play to his multitudes of frost giants – Yeah, I think so too – I don’t know if that happened, but in my mind it did – You could tell pretty much anybody that and they’ll believe you ‘Cause they’ll say “I never saw that one.” – Yeah Or I don’t know Kenneth Branagh – Or I don’t know who the fuck Kenneth Branagh is (perky music) It’s interesting to see in the last 10 years how interactive entertainment has changed and it’s become its own sort of art form with storytelling that has really changed I think changed the game in a lot of ways How has it been going from back in the I’m a fan of this Dragon Ball Z thing to looking at the way immersive storytelling is now in interactive media? – It’s been so incredible because I was one of the people that saw you know Tomb Raider Right, the original Tomb Raider with the blocky head and everything And the camera would move around I was like man, it won’t get any cooler than this Or even earlier than that Was it Pilotwings on Super NES? I forget, it was the first time that it would turn 360 degrees but with facial MoCap the way that it is and the narrative storytelling now of the Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption Things like that where it really drops you into a story – Angry birds – Angry Birds It’s just changed it so much and it’s made it, it’s made it so much more special for us because it’s one thing if you go and do like a video game session and you know that you’re gonna you know adopt some sort of a voice or speak up here and be real cartoony you know whatever And you’re gonna yell “RPG grenade, get back! “They have our flag “We’re losing this fight! – [Both Men] “We are losing this fight.” – That’s been said in our headphones a million times Those sessions are great, but it was really different to see the level of storytelling and the level of emotion that was portrayed in those games What Troy and what Ashley did was not only impressive but it just set a whole new bar You were like man, we can do so much in these games There aren’t a ton of games and developers that tell those stories and so it made it all that more you know precious I always hope that one day I’ll be able to work on a Nadia game But I was so thrilled to see Laura be able to like dig in and show her chops in Uncharted – And Lost Legacy – Yeah, so impressive To me it’s just changed everything I know that there’s a You know all the attentions on the multiplayer games eSports and Fortnite and Overwatch and all that stuff But man I want to get lost in the game – There’s a lot of conversation about that right now I remember at e3 this year there was a lot of people talking about is this the death of the single-player? – I wonder – I remember talking to you about it and going, “No, no, no, no, no, no.” – Don’t do it – [Brian] Because we do love I mean you and I have lost years to Call of Duty, Halo and different – Endlessly – [Brian] first person shooters – Yup, GTA – The ones that we end up sitting and talking about for hours are the stories The story based games – Just the brutal ones right Like I mean there are ones that you can get in and spend a couple hours to relieve some stress and that’s that’s great right Even the competitive nature and try and be as as good tactically and performance wise as you can but man, to be fucked up over some opening cinematics because a character lost their daughter before the game ever starts and to have you go like “What just happened?” That is, that to me was everything – An emotional reaction after 14 hours of playing something makes sense To be able to hook you in and to affect you in that way right away, it was like “Wow, this is a different type “of storytelling.” – Yeah you hear people talk about those video games where they talk about the really almost era changing movies The Godfather’s, the things like that People that were like I had never seen or heard or felt emotion like I saw in that movie And Uncharted lost the last of us Those moments, sometimes the first times that people had been like, “I felt like I was “responsible for that.” – For that life – I felt in myself, like grief or regret because I had my hands on the controller

I wasn’t passive third person watching the film And I could still be emotional and be like “Yeah that happened on screen.” Like I was responsible or there for that moment And where else can you make that happen? – [Brian] No, yeah – Well, I can make it happen in D&D – That’s true (perky music) You get a call, or an email, or a text that says come to this D&D game for ultimately as like a birthday present for Liam O’Brien Whom we had all known for a long time before this home game had happened Were you reluctant at first? Were you like I’m not gonna get this or were you gung-ho? I wanna try this out, I want to dive in – So I knew it was coming, and again, that early vampire book that I saw with Taliesin right I would go in to the comic book store and if I wasn’t trying to sneak back past the 18 plus curtain to go look at like heavy metal and other stuff, I would always see like the players handbooks of D&D, and stuff like that I was like, “I don’t get it” and I would ask And he’s like “Oh, it’s got dungeons the dragons “and dwarves and elves and all this stuff.” But I didn’t know anything about it And then being around Yuri Lowenthal and Matt Mercer and other people in hearing you know Zac Hanks and just other folks that had played, I was like, “So you play like now?” He’s like “Yeah.” I said, “What do you do?” He’s like “We show up for a few hours, “we have some food, we have some drinks, “and we roll some dice and we play D&D.” And I was like “Could I, could I come like watch?” He was like “Oh you don’t want to watch it “Nobody watches D&D.” And I was like “Oh okay.” He’s like “You want to come play.” I’m like, “No, no, no, no.” – Intimidating at first – I was like I don’t want to show up at the park and act like a vampire He’s like, It’s not like that He’s like “That’s a separate thing that exists.” He’s like, “But we should do it.” And I was like, “Okay.” Brush off So I did that with Matt a couple times, I did that with Yuri a few times, and then I did that with Liam once or twice And Laura had said she was interested I had said she was interested And Liam’s like “Let’s do it “It’s on for my birthday, we wanna do it.” I was like “Okay, we’re doing it.” And just the intro questions from Matt alone were almost enough to make me go like, “I’m sick, I can’t do it.” – [Brian] It seems like a lot at first – What race, what class, what? I was like ah What’s a big race? And he’s like “Orcs.” And I was like “Oh, what else?” And he’s like, “Well there’s a half giant race “called Goliaths.” I was like “Oh, I’ll take that.” He’s like “Whoa, what class do you want to be?” And I was like, “What hits things with axes?” He’s like “There are fighters, “there are you know robes, there’s barbarians.” I was like “Yeah let’s do barbarian.” I’m not gonna know much, so I want to be responsible for as little as possible And so that’s how that started But you never would have thought You thought maybe we get some good laughs out of it and that would be it One time, one and done, no big deal – Yeah, but it’s turned into something else entirely – Yeah, just a bit – I think about you guys and I think about how everyone for the most part has grown up gaming and has done voice work and acting and all these different things and how D&D is one of those rare things that sort of touches on all of those different not only skill sets, but interests that you guys have So it’s more fulfilling in some ways than just doing a video game or something else because you’re sort of touching on a lot of different artistic expressions at the same time, right? – Yeah, it’s weird the stuff that kind of like bleeds through Because if even if you look at our first campaign like Liam as Vax was this like tragic character And Liam is so He has that theater background and has so much emotion that he’s willing to share it any second Sam– – Always accessible – Always accessible Sam is musically gifted and that just came out with that energy I’m an idiot and I had that I had that size and that athletic perspective and kind of the naivete towards things that I had when I was a kid And now I would approach things Taliesin to me, the first time that we played, Taliesin and Laura were the ones where I was like, “Oh my god.” Because Taliesin just dropped in He was just playing this other character And Laura, the very first time we played at Liam’s house, I thought we were gonna get there and like talk about our characters And she was just this British woman – [Brian] Wow – She was already talking like this and speaking and giving facial expressions and flirting and I was like “What the fuck is happening?” Oh my god! – We’re in the deep end already – And being actors you’re like, “Well I gotta “fucking jump in too.” So everybody else starts doing accents and shit like that, except for Sam Because he was like, “I’m not doing an accent.” I’m not doing it But throughout that campaign, the way that you would look at solving a problem, or approaching a fight Especially for me, just playing sports Like different formations or plays or strategies that other people might not have been thinking of Or you know even the the small amount,

the small amount of military stuff that I know just from my brother or my uncle being in the military That terminology would come into play when we were addressing things And even though my knowledge of that stuff is so tiny, it felt to me so valued in that moment and it made it all that more special Because I was like I don’t know anything about tactics I wouldn’t ever be able to like lead or advise or do any of those things But in that moment, like it was worth something And that was so strange to me right And when it came to charming somebody or talking our way out of something, Sam was there with his fucking finger mustache and his immigration badge He was just like what, like what? Customs, customs officer – Customs badge – [Travis] Customs badge, yeah It was just crazy to see how everybody adapted to these new things I mean I know Laura I’m married to her She was this like wink, haggle, sexy, flirtatious, deadly woman And I’d have to look at her and be like “You’re still here right? “We’re good?” – Where is the woman that I love? – Holy shit I mean it was just a magical peek through the curtain, and we said like goodbye to each other at three in the morning and were like man that was fun And then Liam sent like a text the next day and he was like “I don’t know about you guys “but I feel kind of snake bit “We got to do that again.” And all of us are like, “Nah.” Nobody replied Just left him hanging – Wow, thinking about what would have happened if you guys hadn’t gotten together for another game – Right – We’d all be working at Walmart – That’s right, that’s right – [Brian] Or I guess I would still be– – I’d be the greeter in the front though Hi, welcome to Walmart – [Brian] Yeah, nobody would– – All smiles – [Brian] Nobody would be intimidated by that – No – ‘Cause your vest would be too small – Hi, welcome to Walmart I’d be a little, little Welcome (perky music) – I wonder then, leaving that first game, thinking about from there to you guys play once a month or every six weeks or however you know with everyone’s schedules you could get together When the idea came about to start putting cameras on the game and making it a weekly thing, what was your initial reaction to that? – Fuck no – Yeah, why, why? – Straight up no I didn’t want to be known as somebody that played D&D – Why? – Legit I remember having this conversation in our house Laura and I She was sitting on the steps and I was like “I don’t want people knowing “that I played D&D or that I liked it.” And she was like “Why?” I was like, “I don’t know “I’m not prepared for that.” – Was it too deep a level of nerd for you as far as the perception? – Yes, to me I kept thinking back to that vampire book Or maybe people would think less of me or think this or think that It was mostly from just naivete or ignorance I didn’t know anything about the game I didn’t know anything about the people that played it I had never seen anybody else play it I didn’t know what kind of people were interested in it or inspired by it or what effect it had in any way In my mind, it was just like something that people did in the basement The same thing that I had been told during the satanic panic in 80s That was it – Yeah, ’cause you grew up with the same satanic panic that I did about D&D – And I, again, kind of maybe going back to like a self-confidence thing, I had been someone that never wanted to do something that would keep me from being able to do something else in my career So I was always worried that’s doing something now might keep me from this or that I don’t have a TV or film career I have a great vo career And what does it matter? I’m playing with my friends right And after a little bit of just talking about it, the reason that I eventually was like, “Sure let’s do it” was we 100% said nobody’s going to watch this – Everyone thought it would fail It was like we’ll do it four weeks– – Four weeks, we’ll do it for four hours They’ll be like thanks that was awesome 12 people loved it We got to do some other stuff And the true sweat, the like cold sweat, was like when a few thousand people watched it the first time We were like, what? What do we do? – Everyone’s eating chips loudly into the microphones You’re on the set of a child’s bedroom – I still like pick food out of my teeth but I was definitely doing it that first episode Laura’s like “You are on camera.” I was like, “I can’t I can’t.” I still just like Just digging That moment was one of those things where So I always like to say that my wife Laura is like one of the best people that I know She’s taught me just so much about thinking about other people, her empathy, I’ve always tried to like learn from And in that thing she was like “Why do you care? “Why do you care what people know if you play?” She was like “You like musicals.” And I was like “Yeah but.” And she was like, “But what? “Musicals are so random “You go to a Buffalo Wild Wings “and you start singing a show tune, “people are gonna kick you the fuck out of there.” I was like “Yeah yeah, but man, D&D.” And she was like “Who cares.” She’s like, “Who knows who else might like it “if they see somebody like you enjoying it.”

I was like okay – And we’ve seen that happen since then We’ve seen a lot of people who look like you say “Oh man, it’s cool to be able to relate “to someone that’s in a show like this.” – The power lifters, the Olympic lifters, the veterans, the guys that play sports, the LaCrosse nerds, video games guys going like, “Man I played a couple times when I was in middle school “or high school and haven’t touched it since “And now I found like people who are not afraid “to like go into the comic book shop “And even though I may not look like every other dude “at that table, I plopped down and have an “amazing time for three hours.” And then I tell them I’ll see him again next week That is, like I don’t know where else– – There’s really no other feeling like it – Yeah yeah (perky music) – What are the important pillars for you in creating a character? Not just for D&D, but when you’re taking something that’s already been written for you to just perform, what’s your thought process like when you’re trying to come up with someone? – Man, that’s a good question Give me a little – You got it dude – That’s good – [Brian] Once I get drunk they start getting real good – That’s where it starts pouring off? – Yeah, I get all the surface ones out of the way – Man, I always have good stuff It’s funny, because I know everybody, everybody’s answer is different But for me coming from a background of not playing it very much, pick something or choose something that’s going to be slightly comfortable in the beginning I didn’t know shit about D&D, and when I looked at the magic classes for that first campaign I couldn’t think of anything more terrifying than all those spells So give me an ax, make me big, let me be dumb so that when I make a mistake it’s not as obvious and I’ll just hit shit They’re like we need a tank that goes in and takes the damage, you’re gonna get hit a lot I was like “Fine, great, cool.” I’m not precious with that character And that was a very simple rigid skeleton As we played and you start seeing what the other characters are and how they relate to you, then you start like slapping more clay I mean I don’t think anybody was more surprised than I was at the sort of like characteristics that he would start to show Like loyalty and protective qualities and really having the sense of honor even though he’s a complete moron I loved him so much because it was so freeing just to turn off all those filters that you’ve accumulated over 30 plus years and just be like this raw exposed nerve that you know can affect and be affected by so many things After that campaign was over with I was like, “Hey I got to have magic.” Because I gotta have magic And two, he’s going to try to speak more eloquently to people I think it’s both of us Hey, I am not terribly, I’m not very, oh my god (Travis laughing too hard) I’m not very good at talking to people about this – Never good at saying stuff – Bigly – Base licky – And even in the story Fjord, he’s not the person previous to the adventuring party that would like to talk to everybody He’s just trying it out for the first time Which is a lot of what this character was And I said “The last one was so far from “I guess me, let’s incorporate some parts of myself “that maybe make it feel a little more “like dangerous.” Like a little maybe closer to home So that if, you know the reaction is poor, it might hurt a little bit more I saw a lot of things in like Liam’s characters choices and Taliesins and Laura’s where there was so much emotion and Grog never cried And I was proud of that afterwards And then I was like “I might be being a little bit “of a bitch about this.” Maybe I’m playing it too safe? Like half of the game could really be exploring like the risk and the emotions of that So I put in a little bit more stuff that has to do with me and it’s going to lean into things that do require more of a risk And I don’t know how it’s going to go – But you’re willing to take that chance – Yeah, like make it comfortable in the beginning so that when the opportunity to roll the dice comes around, fucking go for it Like the only thing that I don’t like in sports and in D&D is when people fucking play it safe It’s so boring right Boring to be a part of, boring to watch Especially in a game where, let’s be honest, if a character dies it’s gonna fuck some things up for you and for other people – As we’ve seen – [Travis] As we’ve seen But it is a game right? And if the opposite side of that coin is something that you will never forget, isn’t it worth that chance? Because in life it’s so hard Life is precious, right? There are a different set of rules and standards I think it’s easy to forget that I remember in the cab deck fight, Grog had four hit points and I was gonna be toast and Laura was like carrying me away and I was like “No, I can’t run from this fight.” I leaned over and I was like “Just drop me “out of the necklace “Drop me out of the necklace, I’m gonna roll

“I’m gonna try and hit him “If I miss I’m dead.” Fine, at least I tried And it was a natural 20 and he fucking died and it was the coolest moment for me of that entire campaign And if you play it safe you get out of there and you live Cool – But to you, that risk and the possible reward of it being the coolest thing that had happened, for you at that moment it would have been up to that point But that was enough for you to say like “I got four hit points, fuck it.” – Totally Which is why I loved– – And it seemed closer to what the character would’ve what he would’ve done – That’s right – [Travis] And that’s why I love Taliesins play as Molly because he was doing those blood maledicts and he was taking those chances and it was all going wrong And having it back I’m sure he would do it differently, but he just charged into it And that’s a choice And Jesus, did it not have like the craziest effect on us and the audience and everything else? – The whole community, yeah – Yeah, I mean they could have run and that would have been the safe thing, but it’s it’s called an adventuring party for a reason (perky music) – What kind of stories inspire you? You’re somebody that every year we all watch Lord of the Rings Every year because we just need the purity of that good versus evil journey And plus it’s just so good – So okay So movies and music to me fall in two categories And this will make Laura and Troy crazy I’m terrible with bands and song names I mean literally, you could play Leonard Skynyrd, AC/DC, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, and there’s a fair chance I couldn’t tell you what the band is half the time – All sound the same to you? – I just don’t have it right, but I could tell you any player on the NFL their first and last name, where they went to college, what round they were drafted in I don’t understand it It doesn’t make sense to me – All their previous injuries – [Travis] 100% But for movies and music, they satisfy if you’ve seen them or heard them For me, different like emotional feelings, like a cocktail So if I’m feeling like melancholy or I just want to kind of think about some stuff, there are movies or music that I will listen to If I’m wanting to get ramped up for a workout or get pumped up– – Vanessa Carlton – 100% of the time (imitates piano) (both men laughing) – Oh that’s it! When I hear that piano rip I can make it! ♪ Making my way down ♪ – Oh my god Just maxing it out When I met Laura I was like listening to Linkin Park and Tool and you know my Primus days and Metallica and all this stuff and she was like “God, that’s so aggressive “Is that like you?” And I was like “I don’t know if it’s me, “but they are just parts of me.” I was very angry, mad, and confused after my dad passed and figuring out high school and going into college That sound nurtured and echoed what I was feeling And so I listened to it And I felt very at home listening to those things But I’m also a guy that loves fucking show tunes – True – [Travis] Right? – It’s true Like half the time when I’m driving to a session I’m listening to Hamilton or– – [Brian] You’ve got the whole soundtrack memorized – Yep, once or anything I know it all And I’m singing it as loud as I can I’ll look over and some guys like looking in the car going like, “You okay?” And I’m like ♪ Ya ♪ No problem But for me, stories, they fulfill like a thing So I love sports movies right, because I want to feel those goosebumps I love fantasy storytelling because I want to believe that those places exist Harry Potter to me is a mix between wonder at the magic and the storytelling that was crafted But it’s also like this chicken soup Because when you hear all those you know, British accents young and old Especially like Richard Harris Just hearing that old sound I remember like just wanting to fall into the TV and thinking it was the most amazing thing I’d ever heard Plus, as a voice-over person, the Irish and Scottish and that’s dappled in there, those are things that I love to just lose myself in And I’ll watch them 100s of times Laura’s like “Oh my god, Harry Potter’s on again? “You’re not even watching it.” I was like “I know, but it’s in the background.” Or The Hobbit – I need it all – [Brian] because it’s comfort food – Yeah, yeah like The Hobbit I’ll watch the traveling troupe of Oakenshield as they’re coming together in his in his home Just that part, because of the food, the smoking of pipes – Washing the plates and oh my god! – and singing – [Brian] And yeah, doing all that stuff, yeah – It just feels good and it reminds me sort of our game and what I picture while we’re playing So different movies have like different things for me Blade Runner 2049 Oh my god I’ve been watching that one more and more just because the way it’s shot is so wide and vast and so beautiful and the sound

Just those like (imitates deep base) You know, like it, ugh (perky music) – You’re a dad now, how does it feel? – Oh my god It feels amazing and terrifying I tell Laura all the time that I feel like people quite often give like the PC response to having kids and to going like, “My life is rich and it’s such a miracle “and there’s so much love.” I’m like, “Where’s all the talk about the panic? “And the fucking stress.” And never sleeping again right? And just feeling– – I have to keep this person alive – Like you’re a totally different person and you’ll never be able to take your eyes off or leave the room never again That’s also just culture shock ‘Cause just in the difference between 2:34 pm and 2:36 pm, your life is forever different We’ve adjusted now that he’s nine weeks old And he’s amazing and we figured out a rhythm Like anything that’s new, it’s almost like learning It’s like being dropped in a country where you don’t speak the language You’re just in sheer panic mode And then you start to pick it up So now it’s good And also we’re rewarded by the fact that he smiles Which holy shit – Game-changer – Yeah, those first couple of weeks I was just like Somebody gave us a book and the title of the book was, What Did We Do? I was so grateful for it because I’m like, “Okay, it’s okay to feel like I’ve made a mistake.” – You’re not alone out there – You’re like “Oh god, what happened?” And when you figure it out and when he starts smiling and the like first thing in the morning he wakes up he’s like (imitates cooing) and he smiles you’re like oh my god – [Brian] It makes it all worth it – Yeah, it’s amazing, it’s amazing – What excites you about being a dad? Thinking about the future – That That Laura asked a crazy question She was like “When you thought about having a son, “did you think about having a baby “or like a small young boy? – Wow, yeah – I was like “Oh shit, a boy.” Like a little kid She was like “That you could like throw a ball too “and like teach ride a bike?” I was like “Yeah, I didn’t really think about “like the little screaming crying thing “that needs all the love and nurturing.” And I don’t think that means anything, but I think it just shows that that’s like what I’m looking forward to the most I know that that’s in a large part just because my my dad was such He was the Sun in my solar system right He was everything He was Superman to me He was like my protector I learned what the world was when he was gone versus what it was like when he was there I didn’t have a care in the world And I think I’m looking forward to being that for someone And also living up to what that idea was before me I know that it’s a unique thing to have like a very strong and good father figure and I’m so thankful that I did But that’s the thing that I’m excited about the most Is being able to make sure that that kid has like everything that he needs And no matter how scared he gets or how panicky he is, or if he’s unsure that like dad’s gonna be there And that he will fucking knock the world on its ass to make sure that he’s good – That he knows without a doubt you will love him unconditionally, unless he becomes an Eagles fan – Barred from the family Change the locks You’re out – Gone – [Brian] There’s no paperwork on this kid anymore It’s all been destroyed – There are actually, – [Travis] we got relatives that are Eagles fans up in Philly You can start walking your ass right now (both men laughing) – [Brian] Thanks for coming on man – Yeah man – This was great – Dude, we got down to like– – Cheers – The bottom of the thing – Let’s finish this – I didn’t even – And then – [Travis] I didn’t even eat the cherry first That’s how like on my best behavior I’m just gonna eat it – Well, it’s 7:30 in the morning right now – Shh They can’t see my watch (perky music) – The debate over how to make the perfect old-fashioned has been going on for 100 years I’m not sure about the perfect recipe, but here’s how I like to make them First, add just under a quarter ounce of simple syrup to your shaker I like to use simple syrup instead of sugar packets or sugar cubes because it mixes well without leaving a coat of sandy sugar at the bottom of your glass Then you’re gonna pour in two ounces of bourbon or rye In this case I’m using bourbon Or you can use a high rye bourbon as well, which is also a delicious option Then, you’re gonna do a few dashes of regular bitters Few dashes of orange bitters for that nice citrusy flavor Add a couple of ice cubes to your shaker And this is a really crucial part You want to stir this drink This is not one of those drinks you want to shake, add soda water to it, or muddle the fruit Just give it a nice good stir

Then, strain over a nice ball into your cocktail glass I like to garnish with a cherry Soak up all that sweet bourbon and eat when you’re all done And an orange peel Some people like to flame the orange peel before they put it in, but the last time I tried that I nearly burned down my high school There, a simple, classy, time-honored cocktail perfect for any occasion Enjoy and stay turnt responsibly Better than breast milk (perky music)