Travis Fimmel is no household name, but he’s been known to stop traffic.
The Australian actor, who stars with Patrick Swayze in A&E’s FBI drama “The Beast,” is better known for his Calvin Klein undies than his spotty acting career.
About seven years ago, Klein signed Fimmel to an exclusive deal to be the brand’s underwear model – the dream job of impossibly gorgeous poster boys.
Fimmel’s body starred in global ads: A London billboard of his six-pack abs – and scandalous bulge – had to be removed because it caused so much congestion by oglers.
But don’t ask Fimmel about any of that.
“It’s not my ideal job and I’ll never do it again,” he says, refusing to talk about his modeling past: “I’m here to promote the show.”
Fimmel, who has traded his surfer-guy mane for a shorter ’do, plays a young agent (Ellis Dove) recruited to investigate his partner Charles Barker (Swayze).
It is Fimmel’s most high-profile TV role since appearing in the short-lived 2003 version of “Tarzan.”
“He has a kind of shyness the way a lot of really good-looking, really intense, young, ambitious actors do – and also no real desire to walk down the street and be recognized,” says executive producer John Romano.
“That’s not what he’s seeking. What he wants and what he deserves is to really be understood as a talented actor and deep actor. His room is filled with Marlon Brando tapes and he studies the people he thinks are sort of in line with his own vision of what he can do.”
Fimmel grew up the youngest of three brothers on a dairy farm 10 hours west of Sydney, Australia. Discovered by a modeling scout at 19, he later moved to Los Angeles to try his luck in show business.
After landing that reportedly six-figure Calvin Klein contract, and the would-be breakout role as Tarzan (canceled after eight episodes), Fimmel got by with some odd TV and film work.
In September 2007, he was cast in “The Beast” – all the focus of which so far has been on Swayze’s battle with pancreatic cancer.
“You couldn’t get a nicer guy,” Fimmel says. “He’s great in the show, he’s fantastic. … He shows up every day. … You wouldn’t know there’s anything wrong with him at all.”
He stalwartly defends the 56-year-old actor against media reports saying that Swayze doesn’t have long to live.
“He just did a show for five months, worked every day, did a tremendous job and so it’s disappointing that people would write that,” Fimmel says.
The two actors hit it off, sparking chemistry on and the off screen. Fimmel describes the “Dirty Dancing” star as a “bit of a cowboy” and a comedian “who’s got some lame jokes” he can’t repeat due to their R-rated content.
“He taught me a lot about elegance, talking to creative people on set – because everybody’s got their idea of stuff and it’s a collaboration, so it’s always gonna be conflicted,” says Fimmel.
The birthday bunch
Singer Richie Havens is 68. Singer Mac Davis is 67. Actress Jill Eikenberry is 62. Singer-songwriter Billy Ocean is 59. Actor Robby Benson is 53. Actress Geena Davis is 53. Actress Charlotte Ross is 41. Singer Cat Power is 37. Singer Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) of the Spice Girls is 33.
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