|American star Michael Trevino. File photo
LOS ANGELES, California — You don’t have to ask Ben Chan why he tapped Michael Trevino as new endorser of Bench Underwear, coming on the heels of the Philippine Volcanoes whose bigger-than-life billboards were ordered removed by city officials who found them “scandalous” (come on, come on!).
The reason is as clear as sunshiny California on that Sunday morning two weeks ago as Michael turned this way and that, very comfy in about a dozen eye-catching Bench Underwear, as ace Darren Tieste clicked away during a photo shoot that lasted until mid-afternoon. He’s a perfect Bench-er.
Bare from the waist up (naturally since he’s modeling underwear), his well-trimmed body beautifully complemented the Bench design. Every now and then, he would dip his hands into his underwear to arrange whatever was inside it. Initially, he wore trunks with a star on it, so as Michael flexed his muscles very gently and, flashing his “were-wolfish” drop-dead bedimpled smile, all eyes zoomed in on “that star.”
Did I say “were-wolfish?” Oh yes, Michael is the guy who has been playing werewolf Tyler Lockwood in the hit US TV series The Vampire Diaries since 2009, and that presumably was what won for him the 2011 Teen Choice Award in the Scene-Stealer Make Category (he was also nominated for Favorite TV Actor-Supporting Role in the 2011 Alma Awards).
You must have seen him in other TV shows, such as CSI (Crime Investigation Scene): Miami, The Riches, Austin Golden Hour and 90210 where he appeared as guest.
Michael turned 26 last Jan. 25. He was born and grew up in Montebello, California. His mother was originally from Zacatecas, Mexico; and his father was born in Fresno, California, to Mexican immigrants.
During the photo shoot’s lunch break, Conversations did a free-wheeling, no-holds-barred talk with Michael who was friendly (like all Latino actors), engaging, endearing and delightfully game. He’s a dream interviewee.
It’s your first time to endorse a Filipino brand. How do you feel about it?
“Actually, it’s the first time that I am ever endorsing any product. This whole procedure…you know, including this pictorial…is very new to me but it’s very interesting, it’s an experience that I’m welcoming. It’s really nice, especially the first part which is this photo shoot.”
What was your reaction when your agent told you that you were being offered to endorse a Filipino brand?
“You know, any brand or product was interested in me being their ‘face’ gives me a nice feeling. I’ve been in this business for quite a while and it’s nice to kind of be recognized. And the fact that I’m endorsing a product from the Philippines is even more mind-boggling. It’s halfway around the world from Los Angeles where I live and from Atlanta Georgia, where we shoot the show. It’s, as I’ve said, nice to know that we have fans in that market.”
I guess your fans in the Philippines will be excited to see your Bench Underwear billboards all over the metropolis anytime now.
“I guess so, I hope so! Part of this campaign is for me to go to Manila and I’m looking forward to that trip. It’s going to be fun!”
I could see during the photo shoot that you were comfortable and sexy in the Bench Underwear.
“Yeah. It’s my first time to be photographed in an underwear.” (Laughing self-consciously) “It made me feel like I was damn-near completely naked.”
Haven’t you posed completely naked?
“Oh no, I haven’t! This is the closest that I’ve probably been as far as being photographed, so it’s quite an experience. But I’m glad that it’s over and now I can have lunch. I was on a strict diet before this shoot, and now I can eat all the junk food that I want.”
How did you prepare for this photo shoot?
“I saw Darren’s portfolio to check what kind of look he wanted. I looked at the products and I found them different. I love the Bench Underwear!”
What’s your usual workout?
“I try to work out at least five days a week. As you guys know, in The Vampire Diaries, they have us shirtless from time to time so I better be prepared for that. I have to be fit and in perfect health all the time. We are filming right now and luckily my workout for the Bench shoot is very helpful; it put me in decent shape.”
What about your diet? What kind of food do you avoid and what kind do you always crave for?
“You know, I eat lots of candies, ice-cream and chocolate chip cookies; it’s like I’m addicted to them, so I try to cut down my intake of them and try my best to just eat healthy. I follow a high-protein diet. Three days before a shoot, I kind of not starve myself but I cut down on everything.”
You’re very active so I guess you sweat a lot. How much water and juices do you take per day?
“Yes, yes, I drink lots of liquid. I drink what we call ‘juice man’ here in L.A. It has apple, lemon, cranberry and ginger and other kinds of juices, mixed with wheatgrass. I call it a ‘grand slam.’ I take it regularly.”
Being so busy, do you get enough sleep per night?
“I try to get six to eight hours per night, but then…I try to make up for it by taking naps. I’m very happy when I get to sleep for eight hours although I’m good with only four hours.”
By the way, how does it feel to be a werewolf?
“It’s good; it’s fine, I guess. You know, popular in this generation’s pop culture are vampires, witches and werewolves, and to be a part of that is cool.”
When the director says “Cut!”, do you snap out of your werewolf character at once or do you carry it around a bit?
“I leave him on the set. I don’t take him home.”
What characteristics of Tyler Lockwood do you identify with?
“Uhmmm, what we are filming right now is Season 3 and Tyler has changed, he has transformed 180-degrees. He’s a nicer person now. He’s a lot kinder and he’s starting to show the soft side of his hard exterior that comes out every now and then.”
With your looks, you can be very intimidating. How are you like behind that…shall we call it “front”?
“Uhmmm, I’m a very down-to-earth person. I try and not be so uptight, I try to be cool.”
Have you gotten used to people staring at you, maybe asking for your autograph or having a picture with you when you go out…you know, at the mall?
“You know, it’s part of the job, it’s what it is, so I can take it.”
As a kid, were you fond of reading books or watching movies about werewolves and vampires?
“No, not really. But I remember watching Interview With The Vampire when I was a kid. But I’ve become fond of them now.”
Did you dream of becoming an actor when you were younger or did you aspire to be something else?
“When I was younger, I did go to movies a lot. And I mean, a lot! My father and I would go to the first screening at 10 in the morning and we would watch two movies in one day. We would sneak in for a third movie but by then I would be very sleepy. We would spend weekends watching more movies. As you can see, I grew up on movies.”
At what point in your life did you realize that you wanted to be an actor, like those you are watching on the big screen?
“Oh, you mean when did I have my ‘Aha!’ moment? You know, I’ve seen so many movies so it’s kind of hard to mention just one.”
In the Philippines, some actors were discovered while strolling in the mall or working out in a gym. How were you discovered?
“I wasn’t discovered. I submitted my headshot and that of my friend’s, too, and I was very lucky. I was chosen. I was prepared when the opportunity came for me to meet agents. I signed up with an agent that I still work with up to now. It has been a fun run. As far as my career goes, every year is getting better and better than the last.”
Any actors and artists that you look up to as role models?
“Mark Wahlberg is one of them. His career is going great since he started as a Calvin Klein model and as Marky Mark the musician. Now he’s doing great work as an actor. He’s even executive-producing movies and shows that are successful and winning awards. I like that! I admire that! You know, you have a happy family and a successful career.”
Talking about family, what kind did you come from?
“I come from a closely-knit family. I have big Mexican families on both sides. I’m an only child.”
Wasn’t it lonely growing up an only child?
“Uhmmm, not really. I have cousins. One of them, Justine, is my best friend. He’s like a brother to me.”
Being an only child, were you spoiled?
“No! My parents never spoiled me. They never gave me anything more than what I needed.”
Any dream role?
“Oh, I’d like to do an indie film…some kind of a down-and-out, drug-addicted character.”
How would you like to do a movie in the Philippines?
“I don’t know much about cinema in the Philippines but I wouldn’t mind shooting a movie in the Philippines.”
Is there any Filipino or any Asian among those close to you?
(Laughs) “Absolutely, yes! I have a lot of Asian friends because I grew up in East L.A. which is close to San Diego valley and there are a lot of Asians there.”
One question your female Filipino fans may be asking: What type of girls do you go for?
“Somebody who can be down-to-earth, who can laugh with me at the dumbest thing, somebody who doesn’t take herself too seriously, and somebody who can drink as much beer as I can.”
Have you found her or are you still looking?
“Uhmmm…I don’t know yet…I might have…Maybe!” (And then he blushes and breaks into a werewolf-sounding laughter).
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