Anyone familiar with Travis Van Winkle and his “body” of work in Hollywood will know that the “Transformers” and “Friday the 13th” star has one of the best on-screen physiques around.
Having gained 10 pounds of muscle to play Cary Conrad in the third season of “YOU,” joining the cast of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s highly anticipated “FUBAR” on Netflix required him to lean down, and get shredded, in order to play Aldon in the new action-comedy series.
M&F caught up with Van Winkle to find out what it was like to work on set with the bodybuilding GOAT himself, and how, having recently turned 40, the star is still in the prime of fitness.
Travis Van Winkle drew inspiration from Arnold Schwarzenegger while shooting ‘FUBAR’
In “FUBAR,” Arnold Schwarzenegger makes his television series debut as a CIA agent who is enticed out of retirement to save another operative who turns out, surprisingly, to be his daughter. The “Terminator” and “Predator” star is joined by an all-star cast including comedian Fortune Feimster, Monica Barbaro, and of course; Travis Van Winkle, who plays secret agent Aldon. But, as you might expect, even an established and talented actor such as Van Winkle has to pinch himself when working on set with the legend that is Schwarzenegger.
“I’ve known Arnold my whole life,” says Van Winkle of the impact that the Austrian Oak has made around the world via his influence on popular culture. “So, I’ve established a relationship with him: I’ve listened to interviews, I’ve watched “Pumping Iron” … and then meeting him, you’re actually meeting a full-fleshed human.”
Van Winkle told M&F that to get past the initial starstruck phase that most us would feel when meeting the seven-time Mr. Olympia, the actor quickly told him all the things that he respected and admired about the former governor of California. “Once we got that out of the way, we could start establishing a relationship and a friendship,” says Van Winkle. “He’s been able to have a vision, a self-belief, and the ability to execute in everything that he’s ever won. So, he’s been able to manifest everything, and I think there’s something really inspiring about that.”
How Travis Van Winkle Impressed Arnold on the Set of FUBAR
Having gained 10 pounds of muscle for his role in the third season of YOU, Van Winkle set about reconfiguring his physique in order to play a leaner, and seriously ripped secret agent. Thankfully, his herculean efforts did not go unnoticed. “There was one moment, where he pulled me aside on set, and he goes: ‘Hey, you’re ripped,’” beams Van Winkle. “And to have Arnold Schwarzenegger pull me aside and tell me that I’m ripped, it meant a lot to me to hear that, because in the back of my mind there was part of me that wanted his approval, and for him to give me his blessing that my work had paid off.”
How Travis Van Winkle achieved those “cheese grater” abs for ‘FUBAR’
“For this role, I wanted (Aldon) to be much more lean,” says Van Winkle. “I was looking for more of a lean frame. I was in the CIA. I’d be wearing a suit, ten-thousand-dollar suits, and I wanted to be able to fit in them well.” The actor says that thankfully working with coach Grant Roberts for “YOU,” helped him to achieve mature-muscle mass that would stick around even when cutting calories.
Van Winkle says he only had around six weeks of prep time before production on “FUBAR,” and so he reached out to Roberts again, and they came up with a new plan that saw him working out six-times per week rather than the five sessions he did for “YOU.” “And, instead of me doing reps of 12, 10, 8, 6 for most of my sets, I actually increased it so I would do a 20, 15, 12, and 10 for each set,” says the star, explaining that he increased the rep count but didn’t lift as heavy.
Those high-volume workouts required him to fight through bouts of fatigue, but of course, Van Winkle never had a problem finding a reason to trust in the process. “Let me tell you, the motivation is strong when you are working on a show with Arnold Schwarzenegger,” he says. “So, I wanted to come in, in the best shape of my life, and so I put in a lot of work for this role.”
Travis Van Winkle is Fighting Fit at 40
Thanks to his training under the tutelage of Grant Roberts, Van Winkle is not simply one of those Hollywood hunks with ‘show muscles,’ and is put to the test whenever he visits Senegal as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters desire to build schools with the help of Buildon, a charity that Van Winkle is a global ambassador for. “It was a second school that we were building in Senegal,” shares the actor. “In Senegalese culture, they LOVE wrestling.”
After joking around, Van Winkle, who loves to mix-it up, found himself in a bout in front of around 300 people on his birthday no less. Having won the fight, the star suspected that perhaps he’d been given the win out of mercy, so he called for a second round, and was able to claim victory again. “For me it was a really beautiful moment,” he shares. With Hollywood, and wrestling opponents at his feet, could we see more of Van Winkle playing action roles in the future? “I’m really open to whatever comes my way, and makes sense and feels like it’s in alignment,” he concludes.
“FUBAR” will stream on Netflix starting May 25.