Easy Rider. Ricky Whittle certainly knows how to perform, whether it’s in front of a thousand sport fans or in front of a single camera. This is his story, as told to DA MAN
Sportsman, model, actor—Ricky Whittle has certainly played many roles in his remarkable life. Of course, the roles he plays nowadays attract a much wider audience. After a long string of TV appearances, including crowd favorites like “The 100” and “Mistresses,” he’s also heading to the big screen. So, it looks like we’re going to see a lot more of this dashing Brit gentleman—and that is definitely a good thing.
“We make the choices now that will affect the future for our children”
DA MAN: You’re currently set to appear in “The Blue Mauritius.” Can you tell us a bit about this movie?
Ricky Whittle: It’s a fantastic story about five young glamorous international thieves with different skills brought together by a mysterious money man to pull off one of the greatest heists in history. A Brazilian, German, French, American and an English thief have to overcome their egos and differences to keep each other alive and pull off this great feat without getting caught. I play Neil, an Englishman whose cover is a stockbroker, but after-hours he is kind of like a James Bond character. He drives an Aston Martin and is the car- and woman-seduction specialist in the team. It has an “Oceans 11” feel to it and I found the script funny and very exciting. I literally couldn’t put it down when I started reading it. It will be an exciting action thriller out next year, and I really can’t wait to get started.
DA: Of course, most fans know you from TV series, especially “Mistresses” and “The 100.” As these two series are slated for new seasons this year, will we be seeing more of you as well?
RW: Yes we will. Both shows have been renewed for their third seasons with “Mistresses” already underway. My character, Daniel, may make an appearance, but you will have to wait and see as the beautiful Rochelle Aytes has a new love interest. As for “The 100,” we will begin filming in July and our awesome producer, Jason Rothenberg, and creative writers are hard at work with the first few scripts.
DA: Long before you started acting, however, you were a consummate sportsman, and you were even scouted for Arsenal and Celtic. Can you tell us a bit more about your football days?
RW: Growing up in the UK when I did was tough. In the ’80s I guess there was a lot more racism than there is now. I was quite often bullied and got into numerous fights as I fought for respect and to protect my little brother. It was actually sports that turned all that on its head. I joined the football and rugby teams and developed quickly into a very good athlete, to the point I became an international level player at both. It was this talent that earned a little more respect, and I also had a family now. I joined the football team and instantly had at least ten brothers who had my back. I Things were going great until I started developing a few injuries. I was dropped by Arsenal and my dad advised maybe going to university, so if in the future my career was stunted by injury, I had something to fall back on. I went to university to study law and criminology, where I began modelling to pay for tuition, books and so on.
T-shirt by John Varvatos
DA: Are there any campaigns or photo shoots that were especially memorable for you?
RW: I think the campaign for Reebok was my most memorable modelling shoot. I was the face of Reebok for 2000 while at university. It was a cool shoot, though it was only stateside, so unfortunately, my friends in the UK never got to see it. But I guess I’m most proud of my calendar shoots. I released a calendar for several years after leaving “Hollyoaks.” It was an achievement for me as I chose the locations from Morocco to L.A., the photographers, which shots I wanted to use, the order and distribution outlets. I was involved at every level for the first time, so I felt proud when it sold very well. Something to show the grandkids! [Laughs]
DA: Do you still remember what your very first role was and how it felt starting on your dream job?
RW: Yeah, it was Ryan Naysmith on “Dream Team”—a talented young footballer with the world at his feet and other people’s women in his bed. [Laughs hard] It was great! I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to kiss beautiful girls and play football. I was literally playing make-believe like a kid, but getting a check each week. It’s not often in life you wake up and can’t wait to get to work each day.
DA: When you’re not on set, how do you usually spend your downtime?
RW: I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, so I love to get my blood pumping by cliff jumping. I’m a qualified skydiver, so I enjoy jumping out of perfectly good airplanes and I also have a racing license and used to race Formula 3. Anything involving speed and thrills, I’m in. I like taking rides on my Harley Davidson through the valleys: You can’t beat riding along the California coastline, Mother Nature is an artist and it’s a beautiful sight at sunset.
DA: You’re also supported various causes from cancer research to assistance for military personnel and many more. What has motivated you to become such a philanthropist?
RW: I believe I’m in a privileged position and feel a responsibility to do what I can where I can. We have all had experience with these causes, and we know the hurt and pain they cause. I was bullied as a child, but it made me strong, and I’d like to think that kids or even adults in similar circumstances can push through those dark times. Someone very close to me passed away from cancer, so this, too, is very personal for me. Coming from a military background, I have nothing but respect for all troops around the world and their families. These are true real-life heroes. I play one on TV, but these guys and girls put their lives on the line each day for people they will never meet and who aren’t even grateful. I have a few other causes that inspire me from the fight against domestic violence to anything involving animals and children. I just feel that positivity breeds positivity, and if we can give back and help each other, we can make the world a better place. We aren’t going to stop world hunger in my lifetime, but if we can all just do a little bit now and then, it’s a step in the right direction. We make the choices now that will affect the future for our children.
DA: Do you have a favorite saying that keeps you going each day?
RW: I posted a quote the other day on my Twitter and Instagram: “Don’t complain about things you are not willing to work hard to change.” So many people bitch and complain about things in their lives, but do nothing to change it or make it better. You don’t like your job? Quit, work hard and find a job you will like better. You’re not happy in your relationship? Do something to make it better, be single or find someone else. Don’t just accept your circumstances. It’s a harsh way of looking at things, but I believe with hard work you can have the life you want or at least one you aren’t bitter about. You work hard in silence and let the success and fruition be your noise.
WATCH – DA MAN chats with Ricky Whittle about his upcoming project: