Sean Astin at Emerald City Comic Con 2016
You know when we admire someone whether its our moms or awesome actors/actresses? We seem to think that everything comes easy to them or that no challenges stand in their way ever, well this is of course not the case. They are humans and humans are faced with challenges that come along in their lives and make them better people.
Hearing challenges from the people we admire are truly so helpful for us on our own paths. Hearing someone, especially someone we admire, talk about their challenges in an authentic way makes us feel like we are not alone. Boy, and when we hear how they overcame the challenge we receive a most valuable gift: hope. The hope that we can do what they did.
What gift did Sean Astin give me at the Emerald City Comic Con? Hope. Hope that I can manage my weight and take control of my life by choosing how my life experience will be.
One of the questions asked was “what was the hardest part of making the Lord of the Rings?” Sean Astin played Sam in The Lord of the Rings movies and if you have seen them you will know that Sam is a heavy-set character. He went on to explain how easy it was to pick up the weight and how fun that was. He also explained how his fitness pattern worked. He would work out real hard for a few months then rest for three then his body would sort of ‘wake up’ and adrenaline would kick in and he would start working out again. Well he couldn’t do that with Lord of the Rings, it was a job that required him to maintain that weight for about two years. He would have bouts of depression because he wasn’t moving around. He was unhappy for a while. At about 85 days left in filming he decided to mark his mirror with tiny boxes labelled: 82, 81, 80 …. 3, 2, 1. These numbers represented the days until he could essentially start working out, start taking that kind of control over his life again. While sharing this story he puffed out his chest at this point very proudly and said that at the end of each workday he would take out his sharpie in a ceremonious way would cross out the day.
He also talked about one particular moment in the filming not being how he wanted it to go. As an artist we can all relate to how we are perfectionists or rather understand the responsibility that goes with creating art, that we must do the character or artwork justice. He felt that he could not move how he wanted to during a particular scene, the scene when Sam and Frodo see the Oliphants for the first time. He felt like he couldn’t move the way he wanted to because of his weight and while watching him share this story you could tell how heartbroken he was about this scene.
Then there was an earthquake in New Zealand, he rushed home to check on his family and after knowing they were okay, he looked down at his sneakers and was inspired to go for a run, it was an 8 mile run! Then he got a treadmill, placed it next to his bed, ran first thing in the morning and last thing at the end of the day. He was alive!
While he shared this story with the audience I was holding back tears. This is how I feel about my weight or lack of movement right now. I am the heaviest I have ever been, I am aware that I am eating my feelings and am aware that movement is lacking in my life. After hearing him share the pain and how he overcame it gave me hope, gave me inspiration, gave me the reminder that I do at the end of the day have the choice to make my life better, to make my life how I want it to be.
I don’t have a job requiring me to maintain the amount of weight I have right now, I don’t have to hate the person anymore instead I can tell the person in the mirror ‘we will be who we need to be’ (does that sound a little like a Gollum Shmeagle moment?). I haven’t received a jolt to make me move and take control but I don’t need one, I will simply remind myself I am capable of making my life how I want it to be.
Sean Astin, thank you for sharing such a personal story and inspiring others. Emerald City Comic Con thank you for making a wonderful space for geeks!