It has taken a fair amount of time and phone calls in order to have the chance to do an interview with Vivi who happens to be an extremely difficult man to get hold of (understandable) but I believe it was well worth the effort. Arriving early at a cafe in downtown LA I sat to wait for him to arrive, admittedly nervous, twirling my pen between my fingers and playing with my iPad and voice recorder hoping I wouldn't screw anything up! But first a little background.
Vivi Devereaux is a South African born actor who made a move from modelling to theatre and film after being inspired and realising that this was the career he was meant to be in. He moved to Los Angeles after the recommendations of his agents and managers in the UK and RSA and has hit the ground running. He is very tall, insanely handsome, and very eloquent with a presence that is just amazingly tangible (man crush moment over). I have had the pleasure of watching a few of his play productions and I'm looking forward to his film debut.
He finally arrived at our meeting with a minimum of fuss (I was early) and a smile that immediately puts you at ease but with eyes that flash intensity and make you really alert. I stood up and shook his hand and it was like I was talking to someone extremely grounded yet with a large amount of forward drive and momentum. It was infectious. After a strong espresso (he ordered a latte, go figure) and some small talk we got down to the serious bit of the interview!
Nigel: Man you are tall! Do you think some people find you intimidating?
Vivi Devereaux: *laughing* Oh I get that occasionally! Most of the time they look up at me with eyes that seem more confused than anything else. But I'm not even that tall! 6 ft 4 is pretty standard isn't it?
N: No not really but it does make me feel pretty small in comparison! So tell me what made you choose this as a career? Had you always wanted to be a star?
VD: No I honestly didn't think this would be my career choice. I had actually studied for a degree in financial management and I was working a project manager for a construction firm. Then I got scouted a shopping mall by a modelling agent and I ended up doing that. Soon thereafter I was being invited to audition for TV presenting, films and theatre! But when I look back, I can see that my whole life had been guiding me to this as a path.
N: When you say guided? Explain? Is it like a diving force out there speaking in a voice? (Sometimes I hear that, but its usually my wife)
VD: Haha no not quite. What I mean is the people you meet and the events that life throws at you. And after a while you think you are going crazy but then you find your niche and realise that everything and everyone you have met has in some way shaped you to become who you are.
N: Who would you say have been your most influential people?
VD: Oh wow its difficult to nail down just one. I take away an experience from everyone I meet and I never stop learning. From teachers, to friends and family, each one has left a little bit of them inside me and I walk with their blessings and well wishes.
N: I wrote an article a while ago on the state of Hollywood today, What is your opinion on the status quo?
VD: Its difficult to say. I think that creativity is something that needs to be recognised a bit more in the industry but considering the global economy and how difficult it is to actually make a living, one can understand the industry calling on the established players to see them through this tough time. I'm looking forward to being part of some amazing projects in the near future.
N: Is there anything you are working on you want to share?
VD: There are a few things in the pipeline but I have been barred from talking about them for now until they move forward with their progress. But let me say I'm looking forward to some epic times!
N: You are a guy who is in pretty good shape. How important is that to your work?
VD: Crucial. Its the age of the buffed actor and we all have to respond by being in great physical fitness. However its a process that's not just physical but mental. We have to make sure that emotionally you are OK as well a some of the roles we take on are very difficult to portray and can wreck havoc on your life away from set if you aren't careful.
N: Is it difficult to let go of a character after a project is done?
VD: It can be, You give a lot of yourself in front of the camera or on the stage and if you have been playing a character for a while, then sometimes the lines are blurred between what is truly you and what is your work. Great acting coaching and training helps
N: Do you think acting training is important? What acting technique do you use?
VD: I think training is important, Talent counts for a lot too but there isn't much you cant do without a solid technique foundation. Personally I'm trained in Meisner and Chekhov. But its all up to what you prefer.
N: Favourite food?
VD *laughing* Ahh I'll eat almost anything as long as its tasty. I have a hungry body to feed.
N: Prospects for the future?
VD: I think that the future is bright and I'm really fortunate in my life in that I have a very supportive base of family, friends and career team. So I'm looking forward to making you all laugh cry and ponder as you journey with me.
N: I know you are a busy man and I thank you for your time, Do you have any words for those aspiring to join the acting industry or life advice in general?
VD: Never take anyone's word about what you can and cant do. Go out there. Enjoy it. Do what you do in the world with passion and love. You will float to the echelons of greatness. Thanks for having me!
And that was a fantastic afternoon. I got home and realized that the world is a great place and I have just had some one on one time with someone who is in all likelihood going to be one of the best actors of his generation and that the world has ever seen. And that for me is a privileged honor.
Now how am I going to explain the espresso stain on my pants to my wife...