UP CLOSE WITH ALEKS PAUNOVIC

To say Aleks Paunovic is multi-talented is an understatement as the Winnipeg native knocks down every door he walks though triumphantly, in a city and an industry that takes no prisoners. Making waves on the CW hit, iZombie, we peel back the layers to see what lies beneath.

HYDROGEN Magazine: What was it like growing up in Winnipeg?

ALEKS PAUNOVIC: I loved growing up in Winnipeg! Have the best friends and mentors that shaped who I am today from my days in high school and working with my best friends in our band Specula Black. I was lucky to connect with them.

HM: What a fascinating character you are…your life before acting involved boxing and music. I heard you were performing with your rock band when you were asked to audition for HBO’s Heads. Tell me about that…

AP: I was playing in a great rock club called GEORGIES in Winnipeg and after one of our gigs, a casting director asked me to audition for a movie. I didn’t know much about it, all I knew was that it might be a great experience. I love trying stuff, so I went to the audition. Ended up booking the gig and that was my start in the industry.

HM: You are known for roles on Battlestar Gallactica, Stargate Atlantis, Supernatural, Smallville and Eureka. On Battlestar, you got to use your boxing background in the role and also did boxing coordinating on some episodes. What was that experience like?

AP: My best friend Tahmoh Penikett who plays Helo on Battlestar, invited me to Micheal Rymer’s (directed the mini series and numerous Battlestar episodes) place for a dinner. Tahmoh introduced us and was talking about my boxing background. Micheal remembered me and asked Tahmoh if I would coordinate a boxing episode. I jumped at the chance.

One of my fondest memories of that show was creating the fight scene with Jamie Bamber and Eddie Olmos and going to the gym for a couple weeks to rehearse it. Amazing guys and developed into great friendships. The funny thing is, I just finished a movie called Numb where Jamie and I are Associate Producers and leads. Super proud of this project. Its directed by Jason Goode and produced by Robin Weiner and Dylan Jenkinson.

HM: What were your first thoughts when the role of Julien Dupont on iZombie came your way?

AP: My first thoughts?… HOLY CRAP!! THIS IS AWESOME!!! Haha…pretty much sums it up.

HM: Who is Julien? What’s he all about?

AP: Julien is the type of guy that knows not to bite the hand that feeds. Literally. I think his prime focus is a simple life. I think he actually prefers being a zombie than his life before being a zombie. There was too much responsibility in the real world. Here, he just does what Blaine says, eats, and works out. And if he gets to kick some major ass in the mean time…so be it.

HM: What was your approach to playing Julien?

AP: My whole agenda was to not screw up for Blaine. So, it was quite focused in a linear way. Julien is so fun to play and David Anders is not only a generous and amazing actor, but a killer dude too.

HM: The Zombie/ Vampire genre is one that’s hot right now. What sets iZombie apart from the rest of the pack?

AP: Listen, the coolest thing about iZombie is that it has hilarious and dramatic moments that are seamless. All the credit goes to the creator Rob Thomas, Dan Etheridge and the whole writing team! And it couldn’t get executed if the right lead cast wasn’t on point. Rahul [Kohli], Rose [McIver], Malcolm [Goodwin], David [Anders], Robert [Buckley] and the whole team. Seriously, I’m just super fortunate to be a part of it.

HM: If I caught you on a day off set, what would you be doing?

AP: When The 100 is shooting in town, I jam with Marie [Avgeropoulos] and Ian [Cusick]. They are fantastic musicians and we have a blast just playing music. Hitting the boxing gym and hanging with my boys Victor Webster (Continuum is shot in Vancouver) and Tahmoh Penikett. Its all about friends and family.

HM: Do you get back to Winnipeg much?

AP: Not as much as I would like because of work but when I do, I love seeing my friends, my mom and dad and my brother’s family. I love seeing my nieces Natasha and Sofia. They all center me.

HM: Your family must be plenty proud of what you have accomplished. What do you make of your success?

AP: Honestly my mom always says, “Son, as long as you are happy, I don’t care what you do,” which always makes me feel amazing. My dad is the same way, but he does love to watch me on TV! And when my brother sees me on TV, I get some of the most intelligent, smart ass ribbing ever. He’s on of the funniest guys I know.

HM: What’s the long game? Where would you like to be, say 5 years from now?

AP: I would really love to be producing more. Plus, I want to try my hand at directing. I also want to inspire people, help people achieve their goals. I had so many pivotal people in my life that helped me. I want to be that for someone else.

iZOMBIE AIRS ON THE CW, TUESDAYS, 9/8C.

PHOTOGRAPHY: CHRIS BROWN

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