Starring in the HBO series WINNING TIME: THE RISE OF THE LAKERS DYNASTY, Austin Aaron is soaring high. Getting to train with their basketball coach Idan Ravin was definitely a change from his UC Berkeley practices but nothing he couldn’t handle. Playing in this series came as no surprise for this actor who has always been a “sports junkie.” From 13 Reasons Why to this, he continues to learn important lessons and bring his beautiful spirit on set!
What was the most challenging part of filming this?
Most definitely our training regime with our basketball coach Idan Ravin! We trained for all our basketball scenes every day we weren’t filming from April-October. I played college football at UC Berkeley up north and a lot of our days we’re harder than training in college! Also, we were put on nutrition plans to lose weight so not being able to eat mac and cheese was brutal!
Share with us the story of why you were drawn to it.
I had no idea what the show was going to look like but the opportunity to play basketball and act sounded like the greatest job on this planet. I went in for the producer’s session thinking it would be a job for a few months and my agent calls me the following week that Mark is a series regular and you have a week to move down to LA. Hugging/crying with all my family was easily one of the best moments of my life!
What does basketball mean to you?
I played football, baseball, and basketball my whole life so I am an absolute sports junkie. I would always shoot hoops growing up with my dad anytime I was stressed, excited, anxious etc. It always calmed me down and allowed me to live in the moment. I could never shoot well growing up and would always just get all my points in the paint as I was usually 9 inches taller than everyone. Landsberger averaged 6 points a game and I believe made 2 threes in his career but was an all-time rebounding legend so being able to portray him was right up my alley. 🙂
You play the comic relief in the series! What do you believe your most important job is while on and off set?
My most important job was honestly to keep things light, loose and fun! A lot of my material was unscripted and would just be brought to me in the moment by our amazing producers/directors. Always wanted to go with the flow, not think too much and see what would happen on any given day. I think that’s so important especially for improv comedy!
Tell us more about a moment on set that you will never forget. Explain.
An absolute toss-up between two improv scenes with the all-time legends Jason Segel and Adrien Brody. I don’t want to give too much away but we had a scene with Jason in front of about 600 basketball fans where our hilariously funny Director, Payman Benz, was feeding me material and seeing what would happen! We got an ovation from the crowd after it was completely magical. Also, the scene with Adrien was sprung up last minute, at around 2 in the morning when everyone was exhausted. We did an amazing scene and got to improv off each other and it turned into one of the best moments of my acting career. I called my mom after both and just cried with excitement that I have the best job in the world to be able experience/work with these two rock stars.
From “13 Reasons Why” to this, what are some lessons you learned about the business and yourself?
The biggest lesson is to simply be nice to everyone around you. In any career, people want to work with others when you thoroughly enjoy being around them and for acting, who do you want to hang out on a set with for 6 months? Being a good person, empathetic, learning names, respecting everyone from the catering people or janitors to your executive producers or CEOs. Sounds cliche but not being mean, arrogant or rude to others can take you a long way.
What do you hope to accomplish as an actor?
Growing up it was always to win a Kids Choice Award or have the slime come down on me at the Nickelodeon awards but it appears my time has passed for that goal. Of course I would love to win an Oscar one day. I think if that isn’t your goal as an actor you’re in the wrong industry. However, on a simpler level I want to put smiles on my audiences faces. Whatever anxiety, depression or hard time is going on in their lives I honestly just want to allow them to experience joy and laughter by watching my work.
Growing up, who was someone you looked up to and why?
100% Will Ferrell. He is one of the funniest people on the planet and I look up to his work every day. “Elf” is my favorite movie ever. He once said in a Sam Jones interview “If this doesn’t work out (acting) thank god I have a college degree”. I have a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and I think giving yourself that break internally allows you to let go, relieve pressure and experience the enjoyment of what you’re accomplishing as an actor!
Plans for 2022?
I got married in 2021 so I would love to have the time of my life filming season 2 if HBO renews us! 🙂 I also want to go to Disneyland at least 4 times and eventually get my body to the point that I can have mac and cheese weekly again!