Photo: Arrowstorm EntertainmentI actually made myself practice saying the first name of actor Jake Stormoen before our recent phone interview: "Jayyyyyyyke," I intoned over and over, trying to banish the memory of the chewy Irish "Jehk" I'd heard so many times in tale after tale of Azerothian camaraderie from long-time gaming buddy Kristian Nairn ("Hodor" in HBO's Game of Thrones). It's impossible to get very far talking with either actor without running into a reference to the other; the two have formed one of those crazy gaming bonds that -- well, you know how it is with a bromance forged in the ice and fire of Azeroth.
I caught up with the smaller half of the inseparable WoW-playing duo by phone during a break from the frigid set of multi-part fantasy epic Mythica, now filming on location in Utah in temperatures as low as 10 below zero. Young actor with a cool fantasy role? This guy's most definitely got it going on. We explored WoW friendships, mused over the pressures of tanking, laughed about blowing off steam in Azeroth after a long day on the set -- oh, and paused the whole interview mid-stream to deadpan and snort our way through a phone call from the Hodor-sized half of the Nairn/Stormoen duo.
Main characters Paladin main plus Peekingg, pandaren brewmaster monk, Thrall (US-Horde), and Shibboleth, goblin arcane mage, Thorium Brotherhood (US-Horde)
WoW Insider: So Jayyyyyke, let's talk WoW. Where are you playing most right now?
Jake Stormoen: Kind of all over the place, but mostly on Thrall with Kristian. We've bounced around a lot. WoW's still definitely my downtime. Obviously, time's gotten away from me a little during the shooting, but on our days off it's nice to kind of unwind with him and hang out like we used to. So right now, our mains are on Thrall, so mostly on Thrall right now with stopping in to see Michele and Mercer on Thorium Brotherhood.
How did you first meet Kristian, anyway?
It was pre-season 1 Game of Thrones. I was still in school; I was in Australia. I think it might have been online, and we just started playing WoW a ton. I can't remember if it was on WoW or Twitter or something like that, but it was way before all the hype over Game of Thrones and he was just another geeky guy.
And now of course we see each other as much as we can and truly, he's my big brother. My family's adopted him -- and I mean, he's family. He's the guy that I have to go to before I date a girl, you know what I mean? It's just what it is. He's the big brother now. It's kind of cool that something like World of Warcraft can actually bring people together like that.
Photo: Arrowstorm EntertainmentSo how did you get started playing WoW?
I played EQ back in the day. I've tried just about every MMO that's hit the market. I grew up as a bit of a gamer; my buddies started talking about World of Warcraft, and I enjoyed the Warcraft series and Blizzard games. I've been playing since launch, really.
You and so many others -- Michele, Matt, Kristian, the whole Pen & Paper & Laser Guns gang ... There's a whole clan of actors who apparently head straight from the set to Azeroth every day.
Okay, that's a bit -- you're right, it's true. (laughs) Never mind, I can't even -- it's so true.
You are really making a specialty out of the whole geek side of acting, aren't you?
Yeah, I just -- life has been really good to me this past year. I don't want to jinx it! (laughs) Yeah, it's been great. It's been amazing. I'm kind of in a pinch-me state right now.
Are the genre directions something you've actively pursued?
It's not something I actively said, "Oh, here's my plan, I'll carve out a ..." -- oh, Kristian's trying to FaceTime me [about whether or not they wanted to list their character names, in light of Kristian's fame and their need to preserve some privacy from fans]. Could I answer it real quick? I'll put him on speaker ...
Hey Kristian, no pressure buddy, but I'm actually in the middle of an interview. I don't know if you understand this, but I'm kind of a big deal right now. (laughs) You're on speaker, by the way. (laughs again) So Lisa just wants to know if you're cool with her saying [where] my toon is.
Kristian Nairn: Hey, Lisa!
Kristian Nairn: I don't care, I don't give a s***! ... Who the f***'s gonna come want to see you?
Jake Stormoen: (laughs helplessly) Okay. All right. (Kristian laughing in the background) But they know that we're always on together -- I'm just sayin', dude.
Kristian Nairn: Yeah, I know, I know. I don't care. I don't give a damn. As long as you don't put my toon name.
Jake Stormoen: No no no, we won't put your toon name.
Kristian Nairn: Trust me, don't put yours either.
Jake Stormoen: Don't put my toon name? (holds back laughter) Okay ... But what if I do?
Kristian Nairn: And you told me not to do it?!
Jake Stormoen: Yeah, but you're famous -- I'm not!
Kristian Nairn: Yeah, true ... (laughs)
Jake Stormoen: (whispers) Bastard.
Kristian Nairn: Umm, yeah, okay. Deal. (brightly) Bye, Lisa!
Bye, Kristian! Good to talk to you again!
Jake Stormoen: Okay, I'll talk to you again soon, buddy. Bye. ... All right, so there's that. Screw it -- I'll give you the name of my monk that I'm just messing around with right now. This is the first time in my career that my toons are pretty noobish (and I didn't list my main, which is a pally) because of my insane schedule.
... And I'm so sorry for that untimely interruption. (laughs)
As far as the geek stuff goes, it's one of those things ... I finished school in Australia, waited tables on the east coast for a few months, and then I just kind of got in my car and went -- went to LA. The biggest thing that scared me was how false I had heard it was, you know what I mean? Everybody hears that. There's definitely truth to it, 100 percent, but PPLG was really my saving grace as far as moving to LA because the cast of that. Michele and Mercer and Marisha and Chloe and David and Jaike -- they've really become my family in LA.
So it showed me that there are good people out there and people that were happy to be geeks and still making a living. And when Kristian first started to get notoriety, I told him not to hide it, so I couldn't be a hypocrite and be like "Oh, I'm too cool for that." I've always loved this stuff. I've always adored this stuff.
And so I just kind of -- it wasn't that I made the decision to just to geeky stuff, by any means. But I did make a decision to just do things that I love, as much as I can, and not to do anything that made me uncomfortable in the least bit.
Photo: Arrowstorm EntertainmentAny signs of more Showbiz and Welfare (his podcast with Kristian Nairn)?
Okay, thank you! We had all of what, like three episodes ...
Oh, come on, I think there was at least a good handful!
There was. You know, it was one of things that Kristian and I, we -- we talk like every day, 99% of the time while we play WoW. And we just say stupid things to each other. Everybody needs a friend to knock 'em down, know what I mean? That sounds so weird, but we just absolutely destroy each other. We're so mean -- I don't know how we're friends, we're so mean to each other.
It got to the point where friends were like, "You guys, if the world could be a fly on the wall, they'd just pee their pants hearing some of this." So that was the idea -- we were like "Screw it, let's just record it and let 'em hear." We never planned it. And then I'm in charge of bleeping out all his profanities ... (laughs) Oh, it was nightmarish ...
But I'd like to go back to it in the future. I thought it was good fun.
So tell us what kind of good fun you're having in game right now.
I leveled up a monk tank, because I was like "Yeah, yeah, gotta do it, pandaren monk." And now I've hit 90, and I've hit a bit of a wall because I'm terrified to tank at 90. (laughs sheepishly) And all I did was tank instances to get to 90. Now I'm like the real pressure's on; now you've got the hardcore guys doing raids, and -- I can't tank Siege, are you kidding me? It's so ...It's so scary, Lisa! The pressure's on!
But you tanked all the way up to 90, so you're in the groove!
Yeah, but those were like old vanilla instances. And that's what made it fun. It was going back and seeing what they've done different to those, and I really enjoyed that, especially having most of my WoW time since vanilla being PvP-oriented. It was actually really fun to go from 1 to 90 as a tank almost exclusively in instances and kind of get to see a bit more of that. It's a bit of a steamroll now; it's certainly easier than it was. But it was still a fun little walk down Memory Lane.
Photo: Arrowstorm EntertainmentSo here's an interesting sideline question: The NPC named after you in game -- is there a particular reason he's a mechanical battle pet?
What are you trying to say? (laughs) One of my dearest friends in LA/Orange County is Chad Wingerd, who works for Blizzard. Kristian and I met him because Kristian was coming out to visit me, and he invited us to Blizzard. I'd never met him before, but we did a tour of the campus. It remains one of the highlights of my life -- and Kristian, too, for sure. We spent an obscene amount of time meeting everybody and walking through and just having a blast. And Chad is such good people, so he and I became fast friends and have kept in touch and we hang out when we can and grab a bite or visit friends up in LA or whatever.
We were visiting a friend on the Warner Bros. lot, and he was saying how he's shifted his focus, he's tasked right now with a lot of pet stuff. And this light bulb went off, and he's like, "We should get you guys in as pets." And I was like "Chad, don't mess with me, man. Don't even joke about that." And he was like, "No. That would be so funny. It wouldn't affect any lore, and then you guys can kill each other over and over and over."
So it wasn't designed after me. Kristian's was, obviously, but mine wasn't at all. But that was so nice of him to do!
Photo: Arrowstorm EntertainmentSo let's talk about your current project, Mythica, a series of five fantasy films from Arrowstorm Entertainment, an independent studio committed to the science fiction and fantasy genres.
I'm actually really proud and really excited to be a part of this one. I'm kind of geeking out every day I go to work. It's amazing. It's getting buzz now, and we're making convention bookings and things like that. I'll be on my first panel in April, which is a dream come true.
We've got a great cast. Everyone's so perfectly cast in their roles, and then we have people like Kevin Sorbo coming in.
It's very much catered to fans of things like World of Warcraft. ... There are certain elements that have to go into a film or a TV show -- and at this point, Mythica could be either; right now, it's slated as five films, but I have a feeling it's going to go TV instead -- that are required in order to get sales and an audience base and things like that. You have to have romance, you have to have fights, you have to have this and that.
The point [Arrowstorm Entertainment wants] to get to, the point they want to reach, is where enough people know about them where they're getting the funding they want and need so that they can do purely stuff literally to the point where you've got your tank character who runs out and gets healed mid-battle. But people just don't get that; they're like "Whaat, what's going on?" So it's a fine balance of bringing in a bigger audience while delivering to the faithful audience.
Photo: Arrowstorm EntertainmentSounds like a great fit.
Yeah, and I get to play a super-fun half-elf English scoundrel every day.
Does it make you want to play your rogue more in World of Warcraft?
Oh yeah, totally, because I play Dagen the half-elf. He's sort of this bastard of Han Solo and Tony Stark, so I go to work every day (pulls out an English accent) and I get to talk like this, wield daggers and a bow and be surrounded by gorgeous women and all the rest of it. It's so far out of my reality, you know (accent fades) -- and then I come home and I play WoW.
Photo: Arrowstorm EntertainmentIt's really good fun to do that switch-up, but it definitely makes me want to play my rogue -- and it definitely makes me want to not be a gnome. I need to pay to switch him to a night elf or a human swashbuckler, for sure.
Watch for more from Jake on Twitter or at Mythica's Facebook page.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) or a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.