Zach Roerig – DA MAN Exclusive

Zach Roerig, from a small Midwestern town in Ohio, has gone from being the adored youngster on long-running American soap opera As the World Turns, then broke into the heartthrob category with a stint on Friday Night Lights. Now, he is shooting straight up to the A-List, courtesy of the ‘vampire craze’ with his starring role in mega-hit TV show Vampire Diaries.

Photographs: Mitchell McCormack

Article: Dino Moriartie

Montpelier is a tiny hamlet in the Midwestern state of Ohio. Its claim to fame is that it’s the birthplace of the guy who coined the term “wind chill factor.” Of the 1,100 families in the minuscule town, the Roerig clan is distinguishing itself, particularly in the person of 24-year-old Zachary Daniel Roerig. Many may know Roerig through his work on hit TV shows, but he’s also had bit parts in a number of big-screen flicks: Flutter Kick (2005); Tie a Yellow Ribbon (2007); Dear Me (2008); Assassination of a High School President (2008); Official Selection (2008); Strawberry Wine (2009).

Making his move

Roerig played Casey Hughes on the American soap opera As the World Turns from January 2005 to May 2007. The role of Casey vaulted Roerig to household-name status, being part of a hot, young couple. His lover was played by Alexandra Chando.

After leaving that show, Roerig had a small role on another soap opera before making a big splash in six episodes as the handsome, romantic cowboy on highly rated, critically acclaimed show Friday Night Lights. He played the character of Cash on FNL, and in DA MAN’s exclusive interview, Roerig confides that his favorite role so far in his career has been as, “Cash … with out a doubt! I grew up around horses so I really enjoyed that,” he exclaims. In early 2009, Roerig was cast as Matt Donovan, a football star and love interest in wildly popular TV series The Vampire Diaries, based on the book series by L.J. Smith. The Vampire Diaries began its first season in September 2009 and audience figures hover close to 5 million per episode in the U.S. alone.

Wrestling, football star in school

So how did Zach from Montpelier, the varsity wrestler and football player—of which he says “I would like to think that I was the smallest and toughest nose guard in the league”—become a Hollywood star-to-be? He tells us that much of it started from his father’s inspiration when Zach was a teenager.

“My father was an actor at the local playhouse and that is a rooted inspiration. I heard about an acting school in Cleveland, Ohio on the radio and started driving down every weekend from age 16 to 18,” Roerig recalls, while adding, “and then I moved to New York three days after my high school graduation.” That was in the summer of 2003 after a successful trip to Los Angeles and the IMTA competition. In L.A., he was signed by Ford Models.

Before all that, he and his dad worked with grandpa Roerig (who, Roerig adds, he “admires most in the world”) in the gravestone business back in their one-McDonald’s town. So it makes a lot of sense that they needed a bit of entertainment release, hence the acting. Perhaps coincidentally, he was signed by Stone model agency (near Cleveland, while still in high school). Before long, Roerig’s handsome clean-cut Midwestern boy look was getting some notice.

Barely a year out of high school and doing gigs for Ford in the Big Apple, he landed his first TV part. He was rolleblading delivery boy in an episode of hit TV show Law & Order. That was in the autumn of 2004, and the rest, as they say, is history.

When not working behind the camera, Roerig tells us that he likes dabbling with his new “extravagance, a Flip camcorder,” and also digs longboard surfing, snowboarding and playing the drums.

Plans for the future

When not home visiting his family, he likes going to New York City’s iconic parks. In addition to what he likes now, Roerig gives us a glimpse into some of his hopes/plans for the future, in which he would “love to work with Tom Hanks.” And for you gals out there, he also hints that his future may involve being a daddy … or perhaps a babysitter. “(I could be) restoring old barns across the U.S. while continuing all my current ventures. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be changing diapers.” But for that he’d need a woman, so we have to ask, what his ideal girl would possess. “First, being able to sing; second, knowing how to cook—but nothing vegan; third, being able to drive a stick (manual transmission),” Roerig says with a chuckle. And for those of you wondering what sort of guy he is off-screen, look no further than his current Vampire character, Matt Honeycutt. “I am probably most like Matt, but with some slight differences … family etcetera.”

He goes on to add that he aspires to be in a lead role in a “well-written western” if the opportunity arises. In a change of pace, Roerig betrays a literary and philosophical side when asked about his life’s motto. “I don’t know about a motto, but something Thoreau wrote has always stuck with me. ‘If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.’”

Perhaps it’s time for Montpelier to rethink its claim to fame… hmmm, the ‘wind chill factor’ guy or the Roerig factor? DA

This exclusive first appeared in DA MAN’s December/January 2009/2010 issue, to order the back issue and see the full feature, click here.