"Game of Thrones" fans, are you having withdrawal symptoms as you wait for the HBO series to resume? Then take this in the meantime: on July 31, "The Quest," billed as "a competition taking 12 unsuspecting contestants to an imaginative realm where ogres run free in the forest, dragons stir, agents of a dark lord infiltrate the Keep, and the only thing standing between peace and chaos are one dozen very unlikely heroes," premieres on ABC at 8 p.m. July 31. And among those sword-bearing, armor clad wanna-be fantasy heroes is 25-year-old West Hartford resident Andrew Frazer.
The fitness coach at Watkinson School in West Hartford, who is also a water safety instructor in the summer at Winding Trails in Farmington, lived out his medieval fantasies on the show where good vs. evil reigns. Developed by the executive producer of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and the executive producers of "The Amazing Race," the show features state-of-the art projections, animatronics, prosthetics and art direction as contestants vie to be the one "true" hero. Following filming in Austria, Frazer returned to his more realistic and less adventurous life in West Hartford. He couldn't tell us how he fared or the particulars of the show that includes eliminating one contestant each week, but he was happily reliving his alternate fantasy life as he shared whatever info he could as he Spilled the Beans with Java.
Q: How did you get on the show?
A: About a year ago, there was something on Facebook asking "Do you think you are a hero?" And there were pictures and it sparked my interest so I filled out a form asking me some questions about why I thought I was a hero. I always thought of myself not so much a hero but I work with kids every day and one of my favorite joys is how I can be a hero to them. I don't wear a cape or a suit of armor but I can affect and influence something in their lives in a good way. And they can look at me like a Superman or a Batman. The hero is just a symbol of people who really do good things. I'm a 'Game of Thrones,' 'Lord of the Rings' fan so I kind of figured out there was going to be a reality show. Then I got contacted by the show and went to Boston for an audition.
Q: Why do you think you got chosen?
A: Well at the audition I dressed up and not as a character so I kind of stood out. Everyone else came with their swords and shields and in costume and I got nervous. I have that stuff, too, I'm a gamer, but didn't bring it with me. I went in being me and figured if they liked me and chose me it was just meant to be. I did bring my ocarina from the "Legend of Zelda." I was terrified but I'm an athlete so I know how to focus.
Q: You are a trainer and an athlete. It seems like all the physical challenges in this show would be a piece of cake for you. No?
A: The challenges were a lot of Renaissance Fair type competitions so things like jousting and riding a horse, I had never done those. I had never ridden a horse until I was on the show. It was something though, being transported to another time and place and we had team and individual challenges and you had to figure out what was happening and how to help. It was all hands on and you did need to be fit. I did get banged around a good amount. I cut my leg pretty bad and my face near my brow bone.
Q: I know people who love this stuff are hugely committed to playing. How about you?
A: I am the biggest gamer. Pretty much anybody who meets me thinks I am a meat-headed jock. But then friends will bring up something about Zelda or see my Anime T-shirt and we can talk for days about it. "Legend of Zelda" and "Final Fantasy" are my favorite games. When I would finish my homework and training I would play them.
Q: West Hartford seems like such an unlikely place to fuel such fantasy. Where do you get your inspiration for this fantasy hero world?
A: I went to Conard and then to Bridgewater State University and studied exercise science. But being strong does not help you run away from the ogres in the games. My whole childhood was based off literally collections of Dragon Ball Zine and Manga comic book novels. I was just fascinated by the abilities the characters had and the magical skills. It's a lot healthier than a lot of video stuff out there. Anyway, it sparked my interest when I was really young. I wrestled in school and it limited me to schools and gyms. Now I am doing what I would think about when I was doing those things. I think the show is the best thing experience of my life.
Q: What did your parents think when you stopped working to go film this show?
A: I tried to keep it under wraps because we sign something and can't tell anything about the show or what happens. So my lips were sealed. When I got back from shooting and we were told we could tell people where we had been, I couldn't wait to tell them. They were excited. Everything was so well done it didn't even feel like a show. You felt like you were living it. And it was a great way for me to prove myself. I was so into it I forgot there were cameras on.
Q: So are you thinking of giving up the exercise science profession to go into movies or TV?
A: I always wanted to get involved in theater even when I was at Conard but wrestling got in the way. I think everyone is going to love the show. I have little kids at work now that are so juiced to see it.
Q: Where will you be Thursday?
A: I will be with my friends and family and watching the show at Damon's on Prospect Avenue.
Q: Final thoughts, real or imagined?
A: I would do it again. It opened my eyes because I have never been in an environment or setting like that, real and fantasy. I got the chance to do the things I only used to only imagine.