Two seasons of Earth: Final Conflict under his belt, and Robert Leeshock shows no signs of tiring portraying Resistance fighter Liam Kincaid. Off screen, laughter comes easily to him, but as they say, beware of appearances because Leeshock is full of surprises.
An engineering degree in his pocket demonstrates that there's a brain lurking behind Leeshock's pretty face. He's the the self-absorbed type then? "I have some other interests," he heartily laughs. "I was sort of a liberal arts guy," he chortles, recalling his college days. "Even though I knew I was very impractical, I pretended to be practical so I transferred to engineering..." But being the 'lateral thinker' breed, engineering soon spelt trouble for him. "I wasn't very good at it," he confesses, "because my mind didn't really work linearly or rationally like that." He stuck at it long enough to get his degree, then dismissed engineering out of his life and had to figure out what to do next. Acting was not yet self-evident because Leeshock wasn't aware it even was a profession in its own rights. "I had no idea! I come from... A bit below middle class sensibilities, and my parents are pretty intelligent but yet, in some ways the sensibilities are very... You know, 'small town.' So I watched movies, television, but I didn't realize that some person would choose that [as a profession]. I didn't even see the separation between the two. It's only when I finally understood that there was a craft or a profession there, that I started to think that actors were the most fascinating creatures on the planet! So I secretly got a job at a restaurant to see what they were like, to see if I had the qualities these actors had."
Spying on actors was an experience that proved to be a wake-up call and led him to reassessing his perception of the thespian world. "I'd put actors on such a pedestal when I realised they were performing something," he explains. "I'd held them in such high esteem that I then had to chip away and break it down for many years. I think that was the beginning of the training where it took me two and half years to figure out whether I was a personality or an actor. Then one day, you wake up with this realisation that you have this sickness, and you know you're an actor! It's a very interesting journey because I always thought 'up' in my head, and I consciously decided to become an actor partially for therapeutic reasons, to kind of get out of my head and try to bring all these things down to a more feeling state." So he embarked on a journey of self-discovery? "Oh yeah, definitely! But then I went too low; everything was about feeling, more like how an animal kind of reacts and have to go to another extreme to find the middle ground. I was way up here in my head, then I was down too much in the earth, then you eventually have this nice integrated whole." Then he didn't go into acting for the wrong reasons, such as exposure and monetary rewards? "Nah... At some point, perhaps you see that there are beautiful women and maybe some money," he sheepishly laughs, "but you can't hang in there for ten years struggling up and down if it's just about money and women." Is it safe to assume that, as he grows as an actor, as more work and recognition ensues, he'll remember the lesons learned and keep his head on his shoulders, his feet on the ground? "Oh yeah! Plus I have a family that's veryt good at keeping me in a certain place..." Meaning that, should he stray from the path of humility, he'd get kicked in the backside? "Yes," he laughs.
He may have settled into the series, but Leeshock finds that playing the lead character is a heavy responsibility and an exhaustive marathon run. "In a television series," he explains, "It takes a runner's mind to pace yourself and face little challenges throughout the day. You know, fourteen hours a day, five days a week is a lot of hours, so you have to really be psychologically tough to handle that kind of responsibility within the political machine of the show itself, responsibility to the fans, to yourself in keeping it geniune so that your sensibilities will always be sharp... You're always challenging yourself!" But that responsibility doesn't diminish the fact that he nevertheles has a passion for his craft. "Oh yeah! I have a Latin soul, that's why," he laughs, "maybe some Latin blood's coursing through my veins!"
Liam Kincaid's characterization, how he is perceived by viewers and where he is going, is of paramount importance to Leeshock, maybe in great part because he has given so much of himself to the character. "Sometimes, in playing a leading man - a friend calls it 'the art of being' - you just have to be there, be in the moment," he reveals. "Everything about this character is just me, but it's a very serious side of me 'cause I like to joke a little bit more. I know I'm serious so I try to lighten myself up in real life but on this show, I'm very serious. I guess the word is: it's my responsible side, and the funny thing is that I've tried to escape responsibilities my whole life, but my character, my job as a lead actor, it's all about responsibility! The thing I ran from," he laughs, "is the thing that came right to me and knocked on my door!" What does he feel his character has achieved, and where would he like to see it go? "I feel that the character's finally earned the title of leader of the Resistance. It'll be interesting to perhaps explore some of the vulnerable sides, if I can maybe show the audience in a moment or two what are some of the vulnerable sides to the character, because I'm always very strong and it would be interesting to see some of the fears and insecurities. That to me is what we set out to do: create a character, a hero that's more human. A hero is somebody that acts courageously in adverse circumstances but maybe also inner adverse circumstances, and that sort of a hero is much more dynamic and complex. Hopefully, they'll be brave enough to write it that way, and you know, everyone's scared; great people throughout history were scared, but they did something overcome it and that's what makes them great." Well, if there is going to be a fifth season, it will be interesting to see if the writers will bring these elements into Kincaid's character.
Leeshock has spent a fair amount of time writing a one-man show, although he's now put it on hold. "I haven't touched it since I started E:FC," he muses. "I don't know why..." He nonetheless isn't very talkative about it, preferring to keep it all under wrap. "It's so personal, autobiographical in a way," he apologetically explains. "For the writing process, you have to go back to 'those' places and it'll take a real willingness on my part to go back there." He'd rather forget those times when he wasn't such a nice guy after all? "Maybe," he laughs. "It's so revealing.... It mirrors my life in a way, because you can only write from what you know... But it's like an identity search which I guess is a very universal theme. But it's fun too 'cause I remember exploring certain characters when I was in acting class, and I could only express myself by really putting on those huge characters. Sometimes, I'd take these characters and do them in a stand-up venue and when I started writing this show, I somehow wanted to incorporate those characters. I'll get back to it hopefully, one day." He doesn't sound too sure it'll ever see the light of day. "I was saying to somebody that maybe all this writing for about a year and a half to two years, maybe that's what got me to this point, maybe that's what its purpose was. "If its purpose was being purely a soul-searching exercise, it seems it had some degree of success, as Leeshock has become more positive than he used to be. "In the writing class," he recalls, "they were saying 'write what you expect to happen, then build the expectation up and contrast that with reality so that the story has a contrast, expect something hopeful.' But I couldn't write like that; every time I wrote the expectation, I was always expecting bad things. But what this guy I met was saying was: 'what you secretly expect to happen is what happens,' and all that writing told me that I was secretly expecting bad things to happen. With this new-found philosophy, I've decided to expect good things to happen and - it sounds almost silly - to have a little faith and hope."
It seems he's also become more weary of his thoughts process, because he believes they are more than just thoughts? "Oh yeah, thoughts are able to transcend the space-time continuum. I have been told that thought waves are cosmic waves that penetrate all time and space." And whom did he learn all that from? "I picked that up from a guy whom I was introduced to by a really good friend of mine who actually studied chemical engineering and was better at it than I was." Even though he was better at it, he didn't stick with engineering, a chuckling Leeshock recalls: "He worked as a chemical engineer for a bit, then he ran off to Europe to become a model! It's interesting how his life went in one interesting path in different ways... So he invited me to listen to this man speak who described how your mind works, how your results are really controlled by the way you think, and - though my friend's pretty cerebral - we both were flabbergasted by this brilliant, simple information that basically has allowed us to transform our lives. I realized there's a conscious part of your mind that determines what you want to think about, and if you suggest it to yourself enough, you can manifest anything." Did he find this applied command of self-suggestion has had an impacy on his life already? "It's only helped me recently because I've only been introduced to this - philosophy if you call it - about two years ago, so my life was like a roller coaster in many respects, because good things - and bad - have happened and I couldn't figure out why these things were happening. What's interesting is that I was writing this one-man show in LA and while I was writing it, it was the case of 'I'm in debt again... Why don't I get a job on Television?" So it was a conscious choice on my part to say I'd like to get a job, you know, being the lead actor in a Television series... I'd never wanted that before. What I secretly was wishing for happened, and when I got this role, I was introduced to this character who's making all these sort of mind-body integrated connections and it made absolute sense." So as they say: 'careful what you wish for, it might happen.' Doesn't that scare him? "Actually," he laughs, "I'm more scared of being ignorant."
This new-found awareness means that he'll have to watch out how he interacts
with people, so now, there can't be more screaming on set! "Exactly," he
laughs. "Also, respect for your own thought process, because you'll get
what you want and don't want, and in order to get, you have to give."