Editor’s Note: I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did. When our ongoing sponsor Dove Men+Care suggested we connect with Steve McMichael, I wondered how we would find a connection. Steve has served our country as a Marine in Operation Desert Storm, and for the past twenty years has held job titles such as Stunt Double, Stunt Coordinator, and most recently, Swordmaster for the upcoming film, The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Then I dug a little deeper and found out that we both grew up in Colorado, both love the Denver Broncos, both consider John Elway a childhood hero. Plus he’s a father of FIVE kids, and has terrific advice for dads about stay connected to your kids and suggestions for dads who want to get fit. All that, plus a shared love of energizing scents makes for a great conversation. Enjoy!
NYC Dads Group: First things first, I see from your IMDB biography that we both grew up in Colorado and we both left in our late teens. Did you grow up a Bronco fan? Are you still?
Steve McMichael: I bleed orange and blue. I even stayed faithful during the Brian Griese era, and I am honored to be working with Dove Men+Care, just like my childhood hero and Colorado native, John Elway.
NYCDG: We have your biography, could you tell us a little bit more about your family? Five kids! Life must be pretty crazy in your house . . .
SM: Yes, it can be hectic, but my wife and I love a busy house! When everyone is together, I sit back in amazement, especially when they are all on the trampoline (ages 3-14) and at Christmas time. I am very lucky that my older boys are a huge help with our youngest son.
NYCDG: Your work must keep you on the road quite a bit. How do you stay connected with your wife and kids? Any tips for other dads that spend long periods of time away from their family?
SM: When I was in New Zealand, I got up at 4:45am every morning so I could Skype with my family before I went to work. What really helped me wake up was Dove Men+Care Fresh Awake Body and Face Wash, which provided a jolt of morning freshness with an energizing scent to jumpstart my day. Also, I would text my family throughout the day and Skype again with my wife before she went to bed. I would often be huddled in a golf cart in the pouring rain outside set, but every second I got to see her and hear her voice was worth it!
NYCDG: Do your kids ever get to join you on set? What do they think about your work?
SM: My kids have been on set for a number of occasions. They are always very well-behaved and in awe of the sets and props. They don’t like that I’m gone so much, but they love to see the finished product and say, “That’s my Dad!”
NYCDG: We love to see people that get to combine their passion with their work. What can you tell us about your work on The Hobbit? Are you having fun? How is the movie going to be?
|Yeah, that’s Steve.|
SM: Other than football, my passion is martial arts, and I just happen to specialize in swords, being a wushu practitioner. I was trained by two former Jet Li team members! When I got the job as swordmaster on The Hobbit, I was ecstatic and up for the challenge! It was a grueling 15 months away from my family, but it was also extremely rewarding to see the progression of the actors’ training. I think the movie is going to be outstanding- it’s going to make everyone get off the couch and get to a theatre again. It’s too big of an experience to watch on a small screen for the first time.
NYCDG: You spend a lot of time training actors to look authentic in sword fights, martial arts battles, etc . . . how long does it take most actors to get it? Anybody that you’ve worked with that was particularly impressive? Anybody that just never got it?
SM: It varies with the actors due to ability and experience. In my recent experience, it took from a week to six weeks. Will Smith was the most impressive and gifted athlete that I’ve worked with. I’m not going to name anyone, but I have trained a few actors that aren’t receptive to my training or fight design. It was unfortunate because they would look terrible when they got on set, and I would have to try to fix it.
NYCDG: Some actors must come in pretty bad shape (like some dads), what kind of workout routine do you suggest for someone starting from scratch?
SM: In my opinion, they should start with 2 days a week of cardio (rowing, biking) and gradually add strengthening elements, working towards a daily, cross-fit training routine.
NYCDG: Our mutual sponsor, Dove Men+Care, brought us together. Our group particularly likes the “Get Comfortable in Your Own Skin” message, what keeps you comfortable in your own skin as a father, husband, and professional?
SM: Although I can be very militant (thank you, U.S. Marine Corps), when I am most comfortable in my own skin, I am very goofy. This usually involves singing and therefore embarrassing my wife and kids when I change words to songs. I have been known to start a robot dance-off in the middle of a production office.
NYCDG: Let’s end where we started . . . are the Broncos going to the Super Bowl this year?
SM: When they signed Peyton Manning, I knew they were going to be Super Bowl contenders. There will be challenges ahead, but I think their chances are very good!
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