Michael Trevino rose to fame playing Tyler Lockwood on The Vampire Diaries and more recently completed Season 1 of Roswell, New Mexico, a reboot of the original sci-fi series on the CW. Now he is taking his craft in a new direction by starring as the tortured, hyperintellectual and guilt-ridden Russian criminal, Raskolnikov, in an efficient yet rigorous multimedia stage adaptation of Crime and Punishment at Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica.
The actor, California native and workout enthusiast chatted with us about what he’s learned throughout the inspiring “dramatic theater bootcamp” process and where he likes to spend his free time in Los Angeles.
How did you land this role and what made you go for it in the first place? MICHAEL TREVINO: After a decade of working in TV, I wanted a different type of challenge. In 2018, I spoke with my reps about doing theater while on hiatus from Roswell, New Mexico. I didn’t have any formal theater training, so I said I’d be willing to fly myself to New York and do whatever I could, even something off off off Broadway. Then this opportunity came about.
You play Raskolnikov, a man so entrenched in ideology and manifesto he’s driven to commit murder. How did you approach getting inside his mind? MT: Whether it’s religion, social groups, shared culture or class differences, when people believe in or are a part of something, you can see how strongly it becomes their identity. We all want to feel like we belong. I thought about how someone might act out and be driven to such levels of rage and bad behavior, and exactly what lead up to the point of the crime. We know what he’s done but it was about taking a deep dive into Why.
Jumping into an award-winning adaptation of a Dostoevsky novel for your first play is definitely courageous. MT: I knew of Crime and Punishment but hadn’t read it before being cast. I think my exact words were, “This would be something nice to do.” Those first two weeks of rehearsal (which is when I read it) I was questioning all of my rational decision making wondering, "What did I get myself into?!"
What was the audition process like? Did you have to do a monologue? MT: Oh, awkward. It was so awkward and uncomfortable, and I felt really vulnerable. I questioned everything I was doing. No monologue but three scenes to prepare, then callbacks. Working with our director, Peter Richards, immediately helped with specific notes on clarifying dialogue and physicality.
Walk me through that first Friday night preview, your stage debut! MT: It was terrifying. It’s one thing to be nervous before a performance but Raskolnikov is nervous, he’s anxious, he’s irritable. So in preparing, I was wondering if this is great because I’m so in character or is it more likely because I’m just scared to death.
It seems like you’re running at a high octane level of feels for the majority of this show. MT: Yes, it’s exhausting but only a 90-minute play and we want to keep things moving.
Congrats on Roswell, New Mexico being picked up for Season 2. What’s the most valuable lesson you’ll be taking from this experience going back to play Kyle Valenti? MT: Thank you. I think it’s to live in my body more. TV is very technical as far as hitting your marks, the lighting, setups and certain lenses, whereas now I want to be more alive in the scenes, and confident to make those bigger choices from the start on set.
What do you like to do for fun in LA? MT: Oh, with spring and summer on the way, there are so many great farmers markets. There’s one on Sundays at Fairfax and Melrose. Another on Mondays off of Fountain Avenue. On the West Side, I love Abbot Kinney. More recently during the week, let’s see... I go bowling.
Wait, what? MT: I think a lot of people these days are going bowling. Or have been bowling and maybe I’m just catching onto it.
Bowling’s definitely fun. MT: You know, everybody can bowl. I’ve been doing a lot of bowling lately, so much so I may be joining a league soon.
That’s amazing. MT: I don’t know if I’m becoming that person, but if I am, I’m accepting it.
What about social media? 1.8 million followers on Instagram is no joke. MT: The business of entertainment has changed dramatically. And social media is a big part of that. I feel like I need to engage more because that’s where it’s headed—not only headed—it’s already there right now. I find myself at a bit of a crossroads with wanting to engage more and showing more of my personal life on Instagram, while still maintaining my privacy.
When you have downtime, where do you find yourself in LA? MT: Sweat Shoppe. Shoutout to the Sweat Shoppe near Studio City!
Crime and Punishment plays at The Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA through May 26.