Hangin’ with Aleks Paunovic
Written by Vaughn Stewart
Aleks Paunovic has a lot going on, even in the midst of a Pandemic. I met with him in NYC, masks on of course, and we spoke about the second season of his TV series Snowpiercer, a gig his band of 30 years recently got, and life in general.
Hey, Aleks. I’m from Canada too. What part of Canada are you from?
Yeah!! Fellow Canadian! Well, Now I know we are going to get along! I’m from friendly Manitoba, and grew up in Winnipeg. 🙂 GO JETS!
How did you get involved in acting?
It kind of fell into my lap. I was playing with a metal band from my high school, Sisler. Go Spartans!! We ended up playing all over Canada. For one of our gigs a casting director happened to be watching, and asked if I would audition for a role they were casting. I ended up getting the part, and BAM! The bug bit me.
Did you get a lot of support from your family when you decided acting was what you wanted to do?
Well, haha! Not much less support since I was playing in a metal band! Haha. No, no…My family was quite supportive. They just wanted me to do what makes me happy– and hopefully make a living out of it. Their support was a huge part of my perseverance.
When you go back to your hometown in Canada, what are 5 things you always do?
Hang with family! That’s key. Hang with friends. See the boys from the old band. Drive around the city –it brings back memories. Eat at Johnny G’s.
What was your first acting role in America?
I did a short film many years ago. Even though it was a short film it was a great confidence booster for me to shoot in the US.
Have you ever played a character that kept you up at night, trying to figure out how to play him?
Yes—well, it was for an audition, and I was very excited to show that I could be more than just a big tough guy. It was for a film called PERSONAL EFFECTS. I was playing a mentally challenged person who was accused of killing someone. The nuance and care to make sure I was playing someone real and not a caricature…. I really went for it and it was quite a vulnerable scene. I ended up getting the job, and it’s one of my most proud performances.
Congrats on Season 2 of Snowpiercer! What did you take away from last season?
What I took away was how epic and beautiful all the cast’s performances were. When we are shooting, we don’t get to see other scenes we are not in. I was blown away by the talent!
How has your character evolved in Season 1?
There is such an evolution of Boki in season two. You get to see his heart. I’m excited for everyone to be able to watch it!
I read that you feel that your character Julius in Van Helsing is the closest character you played that’s like you in real life? Why?
Well, after I turn from vampire to human; it’s the “Human Julius,” I most identified with. That would be creepy if it was vampire Julius. Lol! I think how the writers wrote Julius was a bit more based on my personality. Fun, serious, and someone who wants to help. All the credit goes to the writers. It was an honor.
Tell us about what we can expect for the final season of Van Helsing?
Closure. Determination. And one hell of a bang!
“[Anthony Hopkins and I] built a friendship, and he is one of the funniest dudes you’ll meet.”
You were also in a band at one point? Tell us about that, and is music in the cards for you ever again?
Yes! Well after 30 years, the original guys in my band called Specula Black decided to put out released demos on all platforms. Check it out! You cand find on Spotify, Etc. The catalyst for that was when our showrunner for Van Helsing, Jon Walker, asked if there was a song, they could use for one of the episodes. I called the boys and there we go! It’s exciting for us to have a song in the show. Now we are looking to record more when we can all get together, so yes! It’s in the cards and I’m stoked!!
“America on the cool scale is a 10 with opportunities!”
This has been the craziest year ever. How have you been dealing with 2020?
It’s been up and down like everyone else in the world. I think for those struggling, it’s important to keep in communication with friends and family. You are not an island. So many people are going through things. Let’s be there for each other.
Is there something that you’ve come to realize this year?
Yes, a good buddy Carlos Navarro said to me, and it makes all of the sense in the world… “Patience is passion.” So, I try to do that with everything now.
Tell us a little about your fashion sense.
I like that rustic look. I like chains and necklaces and because I have size 15 feet, it’s hard to find shoes I love. That’s been the biggest hurdle when you love fashion. But I’ve found a few gems!
Name a director, actor and actress that you would love to work with?
Martin Scorsese. Robert De Niro. Natalie Portman.
Who was your acting hero growing up?
Anthony Hopkins. That is no joke! People might think it’s a joke because I’ve already worked with him and he ended up being one of the loveliest, talented people I’ve ever met. We built a friendship, and he is one of the funniest dudes you’ll meet. I am honored and flattered by his friendship.
“It’s exciting for [my band] to have a song in the show.”
There are a lot of young aspiring actors and actresses that love your work. What advice can you give them about acting?
That’s awesome to hear. Thanks for sharing that. I think the one thing I would share is consistent persistency. Do what you love, and you won’t work a day in your life. You will just be life. Navigate the patience. It takes time. Tell stories. If you are looking to get famous, you will have a horrible time at this job. If you do it because you love to tell stories you are in the right spot. Now go be a sponge.
Our Magazine is called Cool America. What do you find cool about America?
America on the cool scale is a 10 with opportunities! It’s endless. To keep working on equality for all, opportunity for all… That’s pretty damn cool.