IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT THESE DAYS THE POP CULTURE OBSESSION WITH VAMPIRES, WEREWOLVES AND THE LIKE HAS RENDERED THESE “MONSTERS” INTO UNINTIMIDATING, FAMILY-FRIENDLY, GOOD-LOOKING CREATURES WHOSE ONLY ABILITY IS TO SCARE YOU OUT OF THAT COUCH AND INTO THE GYM. WELL, EVER SINCE HE STEPPED INTO THE ROLE OF A WEREWOLF IN TEEN WOLF, TYLER HOECHLIN HAS JOINED THE LINEUP OF MYTHICAL CREATURES THAT FLAUNT THEIR FANGS AND FLEX THEIR MUSCLES FOR THE GREATER GOOD OF TELEVISION. TYLER HAS AN EDGE THOUGH; AN ANGSTY WEREWOLF TURNED MENTOR TO A TEENAGE ‘ALPHA WOLF’, TYLER’S CHARACTER DEREK HALE HAPPENS TO BE THE RUGGED, GRUFF GOOD GUY WITH A DARK SIDE THAT EVERY SUCCESSFUL TELEVISION SERIES NEEDS.
It seems that Tyler Hoechlin (pronounced ‘Heck-lin’) had a certain quality that may have gravitated towards acting roles of the fantasy feature kind. Though he was offered the role as Emmett Cullen in the Twilight saga - a role he turned down for college baseball - Tyler tells August Man Malaysia that though he eventually experienced his own Twilight-like fandom at ComicCon for his role in Teen Wolf, he would never want to commit himself to one kind of character or genre.
“I’m a huge fan of all kinds of filmmaking and TV,” Tyler says. “I love Game of Thrones and I also love House of Cards. I’m fascinated with telling a compelling and captivating story that affects people, no matter what the genre is; comedy, drama, fantasy, it’s all about the characters and the story.”
But let’s first head back to the start: Long before Tyler began to rise up through the ranks of young Hollywood, he was quite the athlete. A passionate baseball player since he was seven years of age, Tyler had juggled a baseball career with an acting one while growing up. The end goal, however, was acting. “Baseball was my first passion. I had always said that when baseball was over, then I would fully commit to an acting career, and that’s exactly what happened,” he says.
He credits his parents as the main reason he was able to balance baseball and acting. “They did everything they had to in order to get me from one place to another when I was too young to drive myself. I had become accustomed to being insanely busy and always moving from one thing to the next. It never seemed like too much to me because it’s what I was used to. It’s actually harder for me now to deal with the amount of downtime that I have and finding ways to fill it. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s true.”
It was his role in the 2002 film Road to Perdition that kick started his acting career at 14 as he played the son of Tom Hanks’ character, Michael Sullivan Sr. Citing the film as one of the most incredible experiences of his life, Road to Perdition follows a hit man (Tom Hanks) and his son (Tyler) who set out to seek revenge against a mobster who killed the rest of their family. Road to Perdition led to Tyler’s five years stint in the series 7th Heaven, and a string of television appearances.
“Road to Perdition is probably the first thing I would think of in my life that I would want to relive now because I know I would have such a different appreciation for it, being older now and having a better understanding of how truly special it was to be a part of that film,” Tyler explains. He continues, “It’s hard when you’re that young to fully comprehend how incredibly blessed you are to be in that position and have that kind of opportunity. Every single person on that set was a true example of what a professional should be in this industry; and also, just good, nice people. Tom was no exception to that. He’s truly one of the kindest and most genuine persons I’ve ever met. And I really hope to work with him and the rest of those people again in the future. It would be an honour and a pleasure.”
When the Teen Wolf series was set to debut in 2011, Tyler was impressed with the characters and storylines, especially as the show - which was created by Jeff Davis for MTV - was particularly dark and original. His character Derek Hale was born a werewolf and was initially the dark horse that viewers could not tell was good or bad. “Derek is a very no nonsense kind of guy,” Tyler says. “He wasn’t always that way when he was younger, but when he lost his family, it really changed him. He’s extremely careful with who he allows to get close to him. But if he does let you in, you’re like family to him.”
A fourth season of Teen Wolf is underway and Derek has had a whirlwind of transitions over the past seasons. He becomes a mentor to the recently transformed teenage werewolf Scott McCall (portrayed by Tyler Posey), who eventually takes over the ‘alpha’ role that Derek held. Tyler explains, “Derek has gone through a lot throughout the course of the show. He’s gone from an anger-filled young man obsessed with revenge and becoming more powerful, to someone who obtained that power and was then very quickly humbled. He got a little too proud and fell from grace.”
He adds, “He has really matured in the last two seasons and has accepted what his strengths and weaknesses are. Now he’s trying to contribute where and how he can to the best of his ability, and acknowledges that Scot is the Alpha he could never be. His place is to make Scott the greatest Alpha he can be, which goes back to the Obi Wan and Luke Skywalker relationship that we kind of built from the start of the show.”
While immersing himself in the dark adventures of Teen Wolf, Tyler continues to dabble in side projects. As he recently finished shooting for an independent film called Undrafted, directed by Joe Mazzello, Tyler enthuses about the talent he got to work with. “I’m excited to see how it turns out and what happens with it. No matter what the outcome is, I had an incredible time making the film with an unbelievable group of guys that I hope to work with again and again throughout my career,” he says. “I think that’s one of the most satisfying things about working on a project; knowing that you’ve met some people you want to work with over and over again.
In the rest of the interview with Tyler, he tells us a little more about his ventures as a TV werewolf and reveals a little more about himself.
What kind of preparations do you do before starting to shoot a scene as Derek?
Well when we first started filming the show, it would take a little more time away from the joking around with everyone right before we started shooting the scene, just to get a little more serious cause I’m so much more laid back naturally than Derek is. But now, I’ve gotten to know Derek so well that it just feels like second nature to go into a scene as him. We can be talking about the most outrageous and ridiculous thing right before action and then just snap into it.
What’s your take on the popularity (and sexualisation) of werewolves, vampires and the like?
I think it’s just a very natural thing that we do as human beings. We all have an imagination, we all fantasize; I think it’s just a result of mixing different kinds of fantasies together. Genre and fantasy are things that let us escape the rules of life and allowe us to imagine the impossible. I think that will always be popular. It doesn’t apply only to werewolves and vampires; imagination, fantasy and creativity are things that belong to everyone, in countless forms.
Have you ever experienced your own Twilight-like fandom?
When we go thing like ComicCon we really get to see how passionate the fans are. I’d have to say that’s the most intense fandom encounter working on this show. It’s nice to see someone in person and hear their story about how the show has affected them and become part of their life. I prefer that over all the social media stuff we have today. It’s much more personal.
What was the most important thing you’ve learnt being in the industry throughout your growing-up years?
To be persistent and never take yourself too seriously. It’s easy to be caught up in what the media and the productions that you work on try to present you as. It’s important to remember who you really are, where you come from, and what the important things in life really are.
What takes up your time when you’re off set?
I spend a lot of time with my family and friends, try to keep busy, whether it’s surfing, baseball, dirt bikes, travelling. Travelling is one of my favourite things because I love seeing the world and places and cultures that are different from what I’m accustomed to. It really opens up your mind to so many new things and perspectives. And I’m also starting to dive into writing and developing my own projects. I’d love to get behind the camera and direct and produce someday.
Finally, tell us something about yourself that fans may be surprised to hear.
Well, I faced one of my greatest fears and swam with Great White Sharks. Granted I was in a cage but I still did it. It was an amazing experience with my dad and my brother. I’d actually do it again.