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Fan Expo 2016: Tyler Hoechlin

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Having spent half his life in the business, starting early on the Road to Perdition, coming of age on 7th Heaven and most recently exploring his wilder side on Teen Wolf, the career of Tyler Hoechlin (the first syllable rhymes with “folk”) seems almost fated. While his chiseled jaw, piercing blue eyes and warm, easy smile may not be entirely responsible for this overall good fortune, they certainly warranted the no-marriage-proposals warning that the MC issued before he took the stage (The Vampire Diaries’ Ian Somerhalder had to fend off a number last year).

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In the wide field of supernatural teen dramas, Teen Wolf stands out for its depth and maturity. Being no stranger to the genre, I was skeptical of a show entitled Teen Wolf. After a single episode however, I found myself remarkably willing to continue researching the subject. How could I possibly write about the dark and mysterious character of Derrick Hale we meet in the first season? I needed to keep watching – to learn more about the character of course! It seems I am far from the only one to have this kind of reaction to the show.

The series has garnered numerous comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Both series’ were remakes of cult hit movies, and both built up a devoted fan base. Moreover, from what comparatively little I have seen thus far, both series’ have focused on the character development of the circle of friends (and frenemies) and not just on the supernatural protagonist themselves. This gives the narrative depth, enabling writers to take well-established characters to new places in response to plot developments. The character of Derrick Hale is a perfect example of this, and Tyler said he has been blessed to be able to explore different aspects of his character each season. He also commented on the show’s effect on its audience.

Before Teen Wolf premiered, the cast went to San Diego ComicCon and received a lot of negative feedback from fans worried about a remake of their beloved childhood movie. Fortunately, the response at their second ComicCon was entirely different. Tyler explained the effect as the audience’s learned-skepticism: The genre has become so popular, he said, that some assume that popularity will guarantee them an audience, and they don’t really bother to put their heart and soul into their creations.

It’s certainly true that fans are now no longer limited to shows put out by the big networks: In the age of Netflix and cable networks, viewers have a wealth of choice and can afford to be picky. “When people give their time to something in the genre, they really give their time to it. I just don’t think people are that loose with the time they have.” This skepticism is healthy for the industry because, as Tyler pointed out, the shows that succeed “take time to focus on the characters, so that you can relate to them on a human level.” This kind of media-related artificial selection is good for audience and actors alike: Tyler was far from the only actor at FanExpo to express his appreciation for the opportunities these kind of roles give actors to challenge themselves.

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Tyler also used the role as a means to challenge himself physically. He had to work hard, he said, to talk my way into doing stunts. He’d ignore the direction to stop right before the stunt and do it anyway just to prove he could. Tyler has always been very active, “so to sit and watch [others] do fun, active stuff all day was torture.” By season two, they gave up: “‘If you’re gonna keep doing it, we might as well film it’”. He was proud to be able to say that since then he’s done 95% of his own stunts on the show, joking that he only lets the stunt guys do the painful stuff

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Tyler got into acting young. As he sees it, fate got him into acting: He remembers getting a letter in the mail advertising auditions for an acting school, but he had a baseball game that night. He played in a desert: That night was the only time one of his games was ever rained out. And as fate would have it, the audition was successful: He had an agent within six months, and four years later was cast in Road to Perdition. Tyler said that though it would be terrifying, he would love to be able to go back and relive that experience as an adult: Filled with the false confidence of youth, there were many things he didn’t pick up on as a kid. While he does remember Tom Hanks being “the nicest people in the world”, and running up and introducing himself to the legendary Paul Newman at an early reading (freaking out his mother), he regrets not knowing enough to take advantage of the leaning opportunity.

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The first question on many fans’ minds concerned recent changes to the cast of Teen Wolf: As of season six, he will no longer be a regular on the series. He spoke of the difficulty of that decision. It was far from easy to leave the tight-knit cast: “They’re some of my greatest friends. But, that being said, because they’re my greatest friends, I still see them a lot, which is nice.” Professionally however, he felt that it was the right time to take that step back. Nearing the end of his twenties, and still unmarried, he felt he needed to be able to take a few risks in order to further his career. More importantly, he said that looking at the character of Derrick Hale and where his arc has gone, it seemed that it was the right moment to pull back. “It doesn’t mean it’s the end of Derrick, it’s just he’s on hiatus.”

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The move frees him up to do other projects, and hopefully to follow in the footsteps of his idols. Tyler mentioned early on his ambitions to do more movies, but his deepest desires became clear later, when he was asked if there were any other supernatural creature he’d like to play. Without hesitation, he declared his determination to be on Game of Thrones. His lack of a British accent thus far has worked against him, but he still holds out hope. He doesn’t need to speak, he cajoled, he just wants to be on screen long enough to kill and be killed. Those striking, icy blue eyes would certainly make any White Walker jealous!

    

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