Eric Linden – Stuntman (The Punisher, Avengers: Endgame and a lot more...)

21.aug.2020 00:00:00 | Eric Linden – Stuntman (The Punisher, Avengers: Endgame and a lot more...)

Today's guest is Eric Linden, known for his work on The Punisher, 2nd Unit: Invisible Action Stars etc.

Hallgeir Gustavsen: Hi, and welcome back to Sparringpod with me, Hallgeir Gustavsen. Today I would say I’m a bit nervous because today’s guest is, as you might understand from me speaking English, an English speaker. His name is Eric Linden, and he’s known for his work on The Punisher, 2nd Unit: Invisible Action Stars, The Conjuring, The Devil Made Me Do It, and Avengers Endgame. So I’m off to a quite rocky start here.

Actually, the first time I saw him was most likely one of the movies or TV shows he has been working on, but I didn’t know. Then I saw him on Corridor Crew with Stuntmen React, and he was a really interesting guy. So I reached out to him on Twitter, and he was kind enough to come visit me here in my virtual studio. Welcome so much, Mr. Linden, Eric. Nice of you to come.

Eric Linden: Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.


Hallgeir: It’s so cool to have someone that has been involved in an industry that you’ve had so much joy out of. Can you tell me a bit how did you start doing what you do?

Eric: Oh boy. 16 years now. I’m not sure how long you want this story to be. I’m from a relatively small town in Ohio. Nothing super necessarily interesting about the state. Doesn’t have a big city like Chicago or New York or anything like that, but it’s a Midwest town with really good values and stuff like that. Went to school, graduated, decided I wasn’t happy doing the job I was doing. I actually went to school and was successful at that job doing computer work.

Then one day I decided to pursue other things and really take a dive and figure out what it was I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t have an exact idea, but I also decided I should do something that was going to make me happy. As far as I know, you get one life to live, and I wanted to make that awesome to the best of my ability.

I also realised it was fairly far-fetched and it may not happen. More or less, I wanted to be able to live my life and know that I tried and that I gave everything towards my dream, and if that dream failed, then at least I could be happy with knowing I tried. So I started pursuing the stunt industry and acting and stuff like that in very small pieces, going to an acting class or taking a boxing class until I got the confidence to move out to LA and then started going after it as much as I could.

Hallgeir: As an actor, you just go to auditions, as far as I have seen. How is it as a stuntman? Is it the same? You go to auditions and say, “I want to do this” and then they say “Okay, let’s see you take a fall”?

Eric: [laughs] No, not at all. Completely different when it comes to the stunt world.

Hallgeir: I’m glad. [laughs]

Eric: Oddly enough, it’s all about relationships. Those relationships come from meeting people, training with people. Sometimes you’re just helping them out. They may just need a hand where they’re moving gear. You might be moving pads or helping them load up shackles and shivs and things for rigging, ropes and whatnot, essentially just pulleys. Guys that you meet through networking – sometimes that means going to sets or going to functions, or sometimes you might meet them at the gym. Hopefully you’re a cool guy and you show a willingness to help out and want to learn.

It’s more of a mentorship type of thing to build up the initial skills and relationships to getting that first job. Once you do get those first few jobs, you start meeting other people on set, and then that tends to lead to you getting recommended for something else. Like “He looks like a cop” or “That guy looks like a bad guy.” Usually you end up doing the jobs that are relatively stereotypical.

Hallgeir: “We need someone who looks like…”

Eric: Yeah, exactly. Depending on what country you might be in at the time – I worked on some cop shows where, believe it or not, I was cast as a terrorist. Which isn’t stereotypically what you would think of, but they decided that they were from some other country, not necessarily from the stereotypical one.

Anyway, you start falling into those types of typecasting or whatever it might be. Then stunt coordinators begin to learn who you are, and you start to build up a little bit of footage. It’s not very cut and dry. You don’t just walk into a room and audition. You’re building a reputation.

Hallgeir: In Norway we have a saying which is called trynefaktor, which basically translates to “face factor,” where if you have a face that the person in charge likes, then you’re in luck. It sounds like it’s a bit like that also.

Eric: Absolutely. Now, if you do get that first job and you’re an asshole to one of the people that might be just doing paperwork, somebody who is serving food or moving a light, that’s not helping you get more jobs.

Hallgeir: It gets noticed.

Eric: Oh yeah. It gets noticed, and there’s long hours, so everybody has to be around each other for a long time. They want to be around people that are pleasant to be around.

Hallgeir: If you don’t mind, I would like to show the viewers now your show reel, if you can take us through what we’re watching while it goes along.

Eric: Okay, sure.

Hallgeir: Yeah.

Eric: This is me in a Bentley commercial. They had to hire a stuntman to drive a Betnley. This is Westworld Season 2. That is Daredevil Season 2. That is doubling the Punisher. This is 300: Rise of an Empire. It’s the second one, not the good one. That’s me fighting Daredevil on a rooftop when he first meets up with the Punisher. It was completely in shadow, so it’s me fighting the entire time. That is NCIS: Los Angeles, where I doubled Chris O’Donnell.

Hallgeir: I remember you said this was one of the more painful things you’ve done. Is that right?

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. NCIS.

Hallgeir: You get to do a lot of hand things.

Eric: Yeah, that right there – that’s Daredevil, Corridor Digital. That’s Grand Theft Auto. More Westworld. More Daredevil because more Daredevil is always good. That’s a previz. That’s previz. That was a short for YouTube. Another movie. That is Video Game High School.

Hallgeir: It looks so brutal.

Eric: Yeah. That’s Punisher Season 1, I think. Yeah.


Hallgeir: In Punisher, you did a stunt double for the Punisher and some stunt choreography?

Eric: Yeah. I have a long history with making my way through the Marvel world. I started off as one thing and ended up as a stunt coordinator later on.

Hallgeir: Yeah. Let’s get back to that after, because I want to know how that’s different. But we’ll watch the last minute of this. Are you ever afraid?

Eric: No. I think doing a lot of this stuff, you can’t be afraid because it could affect your timing and your performance and stuff like that because you have to be super focused. Sometimes I might get a little worried ahead of time, but once they say “Action,” I go into almost a Matrix mode where you’re completely focused on the task at hand. Any worry or fear is gone.

I think if you don’t maybe get somewhat nervous to some extent, that doesn’t make any sense. You’re probably like a psychopath. So anybody who says they don’t is probably lying. But that does go out the window when a stunt is about to start. When they call “Action,” I’m not worried about, “Oh, is the fire going to burn me?” I’m just completely focused on I have to go from A to B, then I need to punch, then I need to block, then I need to get like this, and then I need to get pulled on the wire. It’s focusing on timing and not messing that up, because if you mess up any of those steps, then you could get hurt.

Hallgeir: And you don’t want that. Also, I think it’s quite important not to go around your workplace being afraid, so that’s good. This is very, very hyperbolic, but it’s like right before I go onstage to hold a keynote talk for a couple hundred people; I can be – not worried, but I can be sharpened just before, but when I’m up there, I have to just perform. I’m not saying it’s the same, but it’s similar-ish.

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. Onstage, some people might get up there and be like “I’ll be fine once I get started” and then you freeze up. If that’s the type of personality you have, you’re in the wrong business. You shouldn’t be onstage. There’s other things that you can do. That’s not for you.

Hallgeir: Let’s get to the stunt coordinator. How is that different from – don’t you do any stunts yourself, then, or is it just planning and coordinating with the other stunt people?

Eric: No, when you are the stunt coordinator, you are not doing any of the stunts. Or shouldn’t be, let’s put it that way. You are there to keep eyes on the camera that could be moving, making sure everybody’s in the right place. You’re in charge of safety. You’re one of the factors that is watching the entire crew because you don’t want your stuntman to get hurt, or you don’t want somebody who’s running camera or walking through with a plate of Twinkies to get knocked out by not paying attention. There’s an overseer of all those things, and that’s the stunt coordinator.

Plus you’re watching camera to see – I can’t tell you how many times something will happen and the director will be like, “That was great! We’re moving on,” and you’re like, “That wasn’t great, actually. He completely missed that. It was supposed to hit him in the face, and there was this much of a gap.” He’s like, “Are you kidding me? Really?” We’ll play it back, they’ll go and play it back, and they see you’re right. The stuntman is used to seeing things fast, and other people aren’t. So sometimes you’re involved with camera and making sure the shot works.

Hallgeir: It sounds like the stunt coordinator is like an HSE, health and safety, with a focus on the stunts and health, being the director.

Eric: Yeah. It’s all a team. The assistant director is making sure they stay on schedule. They wrangle the group and make sure everybody’s staying on task and the shots are getting done, and they’re keeping track of what’s been done and what lenses and what angles and stuff like that. A stunt coordinator is very similar.

A director could certainly do their job maybe without the stunt coordinator, but then ultimately they would be doing part of that role and would lose their focus on what they were doing. I think everybody’s in charge of safety, of course, but when it comes to the stunt, the stunt coordinator kind of becomes the boss of the set.

Hallgeir: Do you often find yourself just sitting watching a movie or a TV show and thinking, “Oh my God, they should have had someone looking at this before they wrapped it up?”

Eric: Literally every day of my life. [laughs]

Hallgeir: [laughs] I’ve been trying to stop doing that because I find a lot of the time, most of my movie going experiences or TV watching experiences get destroyed. Like me and my 9-year-old daughter watched Hunger Games last night. I’m guessing you’ve seen it.

Eric: Unfortunately. [laughs]

Hallgeir: They build up and build up and build up, and the big bad fight in the end are some dogs.

Eric: Yeah. I think there is a need – who knows if this need will be filled – for an action consultant, somebody that would come in before the stunt coordinator even starts and would go over the script. When they’re trying to decide if they can afford to do this or where they should spend their money, they should come in and talk to the director about like, “This is how this would be executed. Maybe this isn’t that smart. Maybe there’s something more interesting that you could do.” them because they’re the expert in just the action part of it.

But also, we need to understand how that affects the story and what that does to the character. You can’t just be the guy that’s like “More action,” full throttle. I think there’s a need for that. They already spend so much money on so many different things. Especially with COVID-19, they’re going to spend more money on trying to keep the set safe now. But there’s a need for that. Will they ever do it? Who knows?

Hallgeir: I’ve been thinking that they should have this logical plot person that will read through the script and see all the apparent total plot holes.

Eric: Yeah. If somebody would’ve given me the script for the last Star Wars movie, I could’ve saved it. I would’ve made them another billion dollars. [laughs]

Hallgeir: Or the last season of Game of Thrones.

Eric: Oh yeah, absolutely. It seems like they’re trying to shock people so much that they go into the part where you just lose everybody, and that’s not the point either.

Hallgeir: Would you say you like being the guy who does the stunts the best, or the coordinator?

Eric: You know what, I was going to get back to that. Sometimes I get rambling. [laughs] When it comes to being a stunt coordinator, you shouldn’t be doing the stunts. Now, the flipside of that is it’s difficult – not impossible, but difficult to listen to a stunt coordinator as a stuntman and take what he says as that I should do what he’s saying if he hasn’t already done it himself.

Now, maybe not that very specific thing, but if you’re working for a stunt coordinator who was a legendary stuntman and they ask you to jump through that window and they say, “There’s those pads and these pads and the timing is going to be right, and this is what you need to do,” I’m very comfortable with trusting what they say because I know if I don’t do it and pull it off, this guy is so good that he’ll put on my clothes and go jump through that window.

That’s how I do things. When I’m telling somebody something or how I want something done in a fight, they know I can do it. You want a leader who has been in the trenches. So of course I love being a stuntman, and I still do it and want to do it. But I’m no fool; those days are winding down. I’m still healthy and everything’s in operational condition, so I want to move on to directing and stunt coordinator so that these younger guys can go and learn and fall down and stuff like that, and I’ll still be able to walk when I’m 60.

Hallgeir: Yeah. I’m thinking that as a stuntman, you might have – I wouldn’t say an expiry date, but a “best before” date. I don’t see that many stunt people in their late sixties, for instance.

Eric: The reason you don’t see them is because they are in the cars.

Hallgeir: Okay, yeah. That makes sense.

Eric: They’re in the background traffic. I tell you what, man – you’ve seen The Dark Knight?

Hallgeir: Yeah.

Eric: The Batman movie that has the Joker in it. The guy that’s coming at Batman with a semi, and that semi goes and flips completely upside down – that guy was 70 years old in that thing. I know. He taught me how to drift in a car. There’s a video of me and him in the car. I’m holding up my iPhone 3 or whatever, and he’s just ripping it. It looks like it’s my grandpa. I mean, there is freaking rubber flying off the tires, and we are doing these 360s and figure eights and the wind’s blowing in and it’s all crazy, and this guy looks like crazy old grandpa, sitting here drifting a Mustang.

Hallgeir: That sounds awesome.

Eric: Yeah. Don’t underestimate it. There are some older gentlemen who are old school cowboys. They’re in that movie; just their faces may not be.

Hallgeir: What kind of things do you like the best about your – I wouldn’t say job – your entirety of work?

Eric: Sure, there’s the glamorous part of like “Oh, you’re making a movie,” but believe me, when you’re making it, there’s zero things that are glamorous about it. You usually have to get up at 4:00 in the morning and drive to set, and then you’re on set for 12 hours, 14 hours, sweating or freezing or in the rain. You sit around for 8 hours waiting for something to happen and then all of a sudden they need you, and now you’re tired and then it’s time to go. It’s really not that great. It takes a certain mindset to be able to do it. It’s actually fairly difficult just to get to the stunt part.

But that being said, some of the things that are great about it – I was never good at doing a 9-to-5 thing. Maybe it’s ADD or something like that, but when things get too monotonous – I keep walking into the same office, I keep taking the same way to work – I started to go crazy. I was waking up like Bill Murray from Groundhog Day. That’s what made me decide to change.

What I love about this industry and this job is that I’m constantly going to a different place. I’ve been all over the world. I’ve been to China, Bulgaria, Taiwan, Hawaii, to work all over the place. You’re constantly starting at different times. Sometimes you have days off, sometimes you have a lot of work. Also, you’re working with new people. Maybe not every day, but then the next week there’ll be a new group of people or there’ll be new guys or you’ll be on a different show and you’re with a new crew.

You’re in a different environment. You’re inside, you’re outside, you’re downtown. I’m at a park I haven’t been to, I’m up on a mountain, whatever it might be. Access – the rooftop fight on Daredevil was a roof that you are absolutely not allowed to go to in New York. It’d be a tourist location because you can see the Empire State Building and certain buildings from that view, but no one’s allowed up there. It’s also not safe to be up there because there aren’t railings and stuff like that. So we had access to that, which normally I never would’ve gotten to do.

I think those are the things that I like the most about the industry. Something new all the time, and then also there’s really great, great people that work in this business.

Hallgeir: You kind of also answered my next question that was what kind of things you don’t like about your job. Or maybe that’s more what you don’t like about the old job you had before you started doing this.

Eric: Oh, I can tell you now, what I don’t like about this job is sitting around waiting for hours and hours and hours. They have zero concept of how long it takes to do anything, and they will bring you in, I kid you not, 8-10 hours early. You will literally sit there, wasting your life away doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. There’s nothing to do. They don’t want you on set. You just have to sit there and pretty much eat crackers or drink coffee until it’s time for you to come in there.

Hallgeir: And everybody expects you to be really sharp when you’re called upon, so you can’t really doze off? Can you like watch Netflix or play games?

Eric: It’s pretty typical to just sit there and play around on your phone. Also, they usually don’t provide you with chairs or anything. Sometimes I’ve just sat on the sidewalk, just waiting, or sat on my stunt bag or something like that.

Hallgeir: For 10 hours?

Eric: Oh yeah. Now, say there’s two or three of us there, you’ll hang out with the stunt coordinator or you’ll be close by or anything like that, hang out and talk. But if there’s 30 people there, the stunt coordinator doesn’t want 30 people following him around, so you all usually have to be in one area. It’s almost like you’re in an invisible cage, just waiting for the dog to be needed.

So there’s those types of things that are somewhat annoying. Also, there’s days where you’re there for 10 hours, not doing stunts but you’re needed for the scene. Then you actually are working – you need to walk through the door, you need to get out of the car, you need to interact with this actor, and then five scenes later you’re going to get shot. That all makes sense, but they’ve got a real timing problem when it comes to filming stuff.

Hallgeir: Most people – all people – have a way too optimistic timeframe on how much time everything takes. That’s my take, at least. Most people I meet think things will take a lot shorter time than it’s really going to take and they over-exaggerate the shortness of wait on almost all projects.

Eric: Absolutely. And nobody wants to be waiting on you to be ready because the machine has to keep grinding ahead and making the movie happen. However, I think you should get there a couple hours early just in case – they say just in case they’re running early. However, I’ve never seen a movie ever run early, ever, in 15 years.

Hallgeir: I can guarantee you one thing: if you ever show up just on time, they will have run early.

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. That’s the thing. Even though they call you in 6, 7, 8 hours early, there’s a little saying that I learned long ago, and that’s “If you’re early, you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late, and if you’re late, you’re fired.”

So not only are you coming in 8 hours early, I get to set – I usually shoot for about an hour to 45 minutes early, and then I’ll sit in the parking lot, just so I’ve missed all the traffic, there’s zero chance that I can be late. And then I always walk in 15-20 minutes early to put my bag down so when they say “go” – sometimes they want you to go straight into hair and makeup. That’s just part of the deal. When I say all day, I mean it is from the crack of dawn until the sun is down. It is all day.

Hallgeir: What kind of things inspire you?

Eric: Really good filmmaking, man. That is what inspires me, the final product. I’ve always been in love with film and stories. Really great action obviously excites me, but also there’s a lot of things where it’s just completely story-driven that really inspires me. Some of the stuff out there – like Tenet looks fantastic, from Christopher Nolan. I’m really into the stuff that he does.

I just re-watched The Fountain, Darren Aronofsky. It’s a pretty out-there film with Hugh Jackman. But I wanted to revisit that because I was really studying shots and editing and stuff like that, and my goodness, it is fantastic.

There’s certain directors specifically, because I’m trying to get more into directing and stuff like that, that I’ve been studying. I’m a huge fan of Michael Mann. Heat and Collateral are some of my favorite films.

Hallgeir: I googled The Fountain. I haven’t seen it, but –

Eric: You need to be probably a couple drinks deep or a few smokes in or whatever to really get the full experience.

Hallgeir: I can do that.

Eric: Yeah. The dude literally goes to – it spans – it’d be interesting to see what you thought. When I looked it up afterwards, I had something in my mind, and then one of the newer theories is what I thought of on my own. He goes through space and time and everything else. It’s pretty cool. But I think it was just so far out there at the time, the reviews ended up not being very good.

Hallgeir: Yeah, it didn’t do that well at the box office.

Eric: Yeah, it did terrible. I’d seen it, I think, probably when it came out on DVD or whatever at the time, but I remember going “eh.” Then I re-watched it and I was like, “Wow, this is pretty good.”

Hallgeir: Sometimes I like re-watching stuff. When I re-watch movies that I held dear to my heart, like from childhood, and then I re-watch it and it’s like it hasn’t kept up at all, I get really sad. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced the same, but it can be quite hard.

Eric: Yeah. There’s many, many films where I’m like, “Oh, that film is amazing. I loved it,” and then you go back and see it and you’re like, “Oof, ugh.” But that’s part of the magic of it. When you don’t know how to dissect film, you actually are luckier than I am because you can just sit back and truly enjoy it. I see every single bit of CG. I can’t help it. Whether I look for it or not, I’m just like “Oh God, why didn’t they just do that for real? It wasn’t that big of a deal.” I can see when a tie is different, they must not have gotten the continuity right shot to shot.

Hallgeir: Yeah, continuity errors and logical mistakes really just grind my gears.

Eric: Yeah.

Hallgeir: What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last 16 years?

Eric: Patience.

Hallgeir: If you could travel back in time 16 years and meet Eric 16 years ago, what would you tell him if you had one minute?

Eric: I would just let him know – the first thing I would say is that being the smartest guy in the room is always good; however, nobody cares. I would also tell myself that there’s no such thing as grinding too hard, so you should try harder because you’ll get farther faster. Many people get ahead for no reason at all, but luck comes into it. Hard work makes you seem lucky.

Hallgeir: Do you believe in luck? Because I don’t.

Eric: I don’t know. I think I do believe that there’s some luck. I like to believe there’s some sort of mysticness to the world. Another thing I’ve heard in my stuntisms is somebody said that they would rather be lucky than good when it comes to stunts. I feel like I’ve got a bit of both, and I’ve been happy with that.

Hallgeir: I feel you can have lucky circumstances. For instance, I’m born in Norway, I’m a white male. There could most likely be no better place for me to be born or way to be born. That’s lucky.

But I remember when I used to work in a call center and my coworkers were always like, “Hallgeir, you are so lucky,” and I’m like, “Okay, let’s see your numbers. Well, I called 10 times the people you called. I called over 100 people today and you called like 18, or 10 for that matter. Yes, I might be lucky that I reached the people that wanted to buy my shit, but if you had called this many people, maybe you also would have.”

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. That’s what I was saying. I think you can be lucky, but also hard work makes you appear more lucky to everybody else.

Hallgeir: I totally agree. What would you say is the best idea you ever had?

Eric: [laughs] Goodness gracious.

Hallgeir: Are you an idea guy?

Eric: The best idea I ever had – I do remember when I first decided to do stunts, there was this one very pivotal moment where I had to make a decision because I had to basically quit my job and pursue this thing that I’d been flirting with. But it was like I needed to walk in and tell my job I was going to leave for a couple months, and I wanted to have a job when I got back, but I knew there was a chance that I wouldn’t. And regardless of what they said, I was going to leave. It was changing my entire life.

I think that’s probably the smartest thing or the best idea I’ve ever had, when I obviously decided to do it. If I wouldn’t have done that, I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend, and now I have a baby boy, and it’s the greatest thing in the world.

Hallgeir: How old?

Eric: He’s seven months, man. I just had my first Father’s Day yesterday, so that was pretty cool.

Hallgeir: Nice.

Eric: Yeah, man. Of course, my girlfriend would want me to say it was when I kissed her or something. But none of this would have ever happened, I wouldn’t be talking to you – before my lunch break, I found out that I’d been accepted to go do something and work on a movie as literally an extra. Bottom of the barrel, like nothing, but I was able to work on it for I think 6 or 7 weeks or something like that. I was going to have to leave town. I had to go to Philadelphia.

I went on my lunch break and didn’t eat lunch; I went to this lake that was near my job and my house at the time and walked up this massive amount of stairs where people go and work out, run up and down the stairs. You get to the top and there’s a dam. I just sat on this rock and was staring at the water and trying to decide, “Am I going to change my life right now? It could be a huge mistake.” I literally started crying, and eventually I pulled myself together and was like, “Yeah, fuck it. Let’s go.” If you don’t make changes, nothing’s ever going to change.

Hallgeir: Who would play you in the Eric Linden movie?

Eric: [laughs] No one’s making a movie of this, dude.

Hallgeir: But just think about it. I’m not saying right now, but the scene you described here is quite taken out of a movie. Don’t you think?

Eric: Yeah, I guess so. When I think back to it, it does seem that way, but it didn’t feel like it at the time. That spot wasn’t abnormal for me to go to, because I would go and run and do workouts there because it’s like a mile and a half down, a mile and a half back, so I knew I was running three miles, and then running the stairs or whatever that would be.

Man, who would play me in a movie?

Hallgeir: How about Jon Bernthal?

Eric: Yeah, yeah, I’d have – his legs are too skinny. [laughs]

Hallgeir: [laughs] But except that, I think that would be good. Or could you do it yourself?

Eric: We’d probably have to get a younger man to go do it at this point. [laughs]

Hallgeir: Most likely. Have you had a really bad idea during your years?

Eric: Oh, there’s way too many. We’d be here for hours. [laughs]

Hallgeir: Not like at the top, one?

Eric: I think mistakes are part of being good. There’s been a lot of bad ideas. I’ve tried different camera tests. I’ve said things that are dumb. I’ve made many mistakes on set. There are things you should’ve looked for, you should’ve anticipated. But that all becomes experience.

There was this one time, for example – it’s like, how can you say it’s the worst thing that you’ve ever thought of or the biggest mistake you’ve ever made? I’m still here, so there’s nothing that’s been catastrophic. But there’s this scene in Daredevil Season 2 – I was doubling and coordinating, although I wouldn’t do that at the same time. I was either doing one or the other.

So I was coordinating, and this car had to come down and crash into another car. It wasn’t supposed to be fast. It wasn’t a big deal. The guy had been shot, and he barely makes it there. We knew the one car was going to move, so we put another car behind that car so this car would bump into this car, and then this car would bump into the car behind it. Put things underneath the wheels so that they wouldn’t move and all that stuff to make sure – I even think one of them was chained to the ground. We did a lot to make sure that it wouldn’t go too far.

My mistake was, as the guy who wrangles the cars, I was like, “Hey, did you put the catch car” –which was the car behind the car – “Did you put the e-brake on the catch car?” He’s like, “Yep, we’re good to go.” “All right, cool.” I didn’t go check. But I did remember to ask. I did my job, made sure to look at the wheels, everything looked good.

Well, he didn’t do it. The car jumps into the other car and then that car goes down the block and runs over a tree. It was a small tree, but the tree didn’t make it. I now learned that when you ask somebody something or whatever, you can’t assume that they did it. You need to take the time to go make sure it was done.

Hallgeir: If it is important to you, you have to check.

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. You expect everybody else to be as good as you are, for example. They’re not.

Hallgeir: You shouldn’t, yeah. A lot of people I talk to, like entrepreneurs and stuff, say, “My employees don’t work as hard as I do. They don’t sacrifice as much as I do.” Gary Vaynerchuk got the same question and he’s like, “Well, if you give them half your company, then maybe.” [laughs]

Eric: Yeah.

Hallgeir: Would you say that you tend towards systems and order in your life, or chaos and no systems?

Eric: I feel like I’m a little bit more on the creative side. I don’t know – what is that, left-brained? I’m not sure.

Hallgeir: One of the brains.

Eric: Yeah. When it comes to analytical and numbers and stuff like that, terrible. I’m better at coming up with ideas. I was always into art and stuff like that. So there’s not a ton of order, I would say. That’s why I couldn’t stick with the 9-to-5 job. I like things being malleable and changing and not too monotonous.

Hallgeir: Three things you can’t do without?

Eric: Nowadays – this has probably changed every single year, but things I can’t do without are the things that I literally have been having for months, which has been great, and that’s my girlfriend, my son, and lifting weights.

Hallgeir: Are you an Android or an iPhone guy?

Eric: iPhone. Come on.

Hallgeir: What are your favorite apps?

Eric: It’s so funny – I don’t Facebook at all. I have Twitter pretty much just for informational reasons, just to see what’s going on. I don’t really have a lot to say. I feel like if you talk too much, it’s probably not a good thing.

I like Instagram. I think that’s pretty cool because that’s kind of how Myspace and Facebook and stuff like that used to be. You were seeing things that other people were doing and they would see what you were doing, and that was mostly through pictures. Now everything’s become a joke or a game or political or a meme or whatever, so I’m not into that too much.

But there’s this damn game that I play all the time whenever I do have time, especially on set when I’m bored. It’s Marvel Strike Force. Yeah, I literally am playing the Punisher or whatever. It’s some little turn-based game where you click on it. It’s absurd. It’s stupid. But it’s what I do instead of Facebooking.

Hallgeir: For me it’s a brain – I wouldn’t say workout, but like a brain treadmill, just to have something to do.

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. Also, it’s like you can only do so much per day. You’re playing the long game to build your squad. [laughs]

Hallgeir: I remember New Year’s Eve last year, my father passed away, and if I let my brain just run along with everything, it will go really dark or at least then, I would really just wallow in pain and sorrow and stuff. But I found this game that was just challenging enough that if I focused on that and listened to a podcast in addition, I couldn’t think of anything else. I was using up my bandwidth, and I found that to be quite nice.

Eric: Yeah. What game was it? I can see how you would need maybe time to heal. Like my dog passed away a couple of years ago and I couldn’t even look at a picture of him for like a year.

Hallgeir: Yeah. It’s a card game called Gwent, based on The Witcher show and books. You build decks and you have different kinds of – like you can play with monsters or Nilfheim. You can play on one of the different factions, and then you have 10 cards and you draw cards and there are rounds. It’s really strategic. I’ve been a nerd my whole life, so I’ve been playing Magic: The Gathering, Lord of the Rings trading card game, I did Vampire: The Masquerade trading card game.

It’s nice to have on the iPad something to do that takes my focus and – I wouldn’t say sharpens my wit or anything, but it’s something for my brain to do while keeping it occupied.

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. That’s the same thing with this game. It’s turn-based, but if you make the wrong decision, it’ll cascade and you’re going to lose. It’s so funny – I’ve been a big nerd as far as comic books, and I used to read vampire books, and people wouldn’t assume it. I’m like, oh yeah, I’m sweet at video games, dude.

Hallgeir: Cool.

Eric: Yeah. I don’t get to do it much anymore, but yeah, big nerd when it comes to that stuff.

Hallgeir: We got a comment from Eplegutten at Twitch, “Revenge of the nerds!” Cool.

Eric: Nerds!

Hallgeir: So you prefer Instagram or Snapchat? Are you on Snapchat?

Eric: Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m getting old, but I feel like Snapchat is for kids.

Hallgeir: You should come to Norway. I spoke to the Snapchat people, and you’re correct in most countries, but in Norway it’s like everyone. Snapchat has overtaken Instagram in Norway. It’s the number two social media right below Facebook in Norway now.

Eric: Interesting.

Hallgeir: I have no idea why.

Eric: Is it where you send each other messages and talk and kind of everything?

Hallgeir: Yeah. Message service, sending out random shit.

Eric: I worked in China for quite some time, and we got on the social media there. It was WeChat. We were only there a couple of days and we were like, “You have to be on WeChat. It’s what everybody does.” This was, I don’t know, 7 years ago.

Hallgeir: With WeChat, you can pay for stuff and you can basically do everything.

Eric: Yeah.

Hallgeir: Actually, I have a WeChat account because there’s this Norwegian soccer podcast that I listen to, and they were asked, “We need to find a Chinese team to cheer for. What would you suggest?” They were like, “There’s a cool team called Nei Mongol in the second division.” Somebody wrote them and said, “I want to make a Norwegian supporter club for the Nei Mongol people.” I was like, “Okay, I can build a website.”

So we’re basically an organization, and then some Chinese people contacted us because they’d seen us on Instagram. So I was invited into their WeChat with like 500 or 1,000 hardcore Nei Mongol fans. They were like, “You’re in Norway and you like our team? That’s so amazing.” One of the guys was actually traveling to China to visit them and everything. It was quite crazy.

Eric: Wow, that’s awesome, man. Yeah, I’m really not surprised that Snapchat is like that just because I’ve been to so many other countries and see how they use things differently or there’s different companies that are popular or whatever. I embrace that. That’s amazing. There’s not one thing that’s right.

Hallgeir: How about YouTube or TikTok?

Eric: I don’t do the TikTok. It seems like it’s a kids’ thing to me right now. But obviously, YouTube is essential. If something comes up social media-wise, I try to jump on it so I can stay current. But if it doesn’t interest me personally, I won’t be on it just because it’s popular.

Hallgeir: I understand that. At the end of all my interviews, I have 10 really quick questions, and sometimes I get 10 quick answers, so I’m going to try that right now.

Eric: Okay.

Hallgeir: What’s your favorite word?

Eric: Fuck.

Hallgeir: What word do you hate?

Eric: Damn, I don’t know. Word that I hate? Man, I don’t know. I don’t like to hate too much, let’s put it that way.

Hallgeir: What things turn you on? Not sexually.

Eric: Sunshine and fitness.

Hallgeir: What kind of things grind your gears?

Eric: Stupid people.

Hallgeir: Luckily there’s not that many of them.

Eric: Yeah right. [laughs]

Hallgeir: What’s your favorite sound?

Eric: Sound?

Hallgeir: Yeah.

Eric: I would say ocean, but I bet everybody says that. There’s nothing like having a guitar, just kind of acoustic.

Hallgeir: Sweet strumming?

Eric: Yeah, exactly. I like music that’s relaxing more than anything, or that’s melodic. Something like Tool, for example. It can be rough, but it also is melodic.

Hallgeir: Do you like their new album?

Eric: I do. I think there’s some good songs on it. But a lot of times if I’m in Tool mode, I’ll start listening to it because I want to like it more than I do. I think it’s a great addition, and then I find myself clicking down to Lateralus or 10,000 Days and being like “I’ll just get back to what’s amazing.”

Hallgeir: Is there a sound you hate?

Eric: Yes. I don’t like the sound of metal scraping together. It hurts my teeth.

Hallgeir: What’s your favorite curse word?

Eric: It’s fuck.

Hallgeir: If you should have a profession except the one you have right now, what would that be?

Eric: Like completely different? I don’t know, I think I would like to do something outdoors. Maybe mountaineering or something that had to do with guns. [laughs]

Hallgeir: What kind of profession would you not like at all?

Eric: I had it. I don’t like a desk job. It’s too monotonous.

Hallgeir: If heaven exists, what would you rather have God tell you when you get there?

Eric: Oh wait, say it again?

Hallgeir: If heaven exists and you get there, and God’s like – what does he say?

Eric: “Did you have fun?”

Hallgeir: Cool. Thank you so much for joining me today. For all the people watching, check out Eric on Instagram, I guess? Anywhere else they should check you out?

Eric: Yeah, Instagram. Pretty much Instagram only. I’ve got a few things on YouTube. I’m actually going to release a short that I directed at the beginning of July. I’ll have that on Instagram.

Hallgeir: Cool. If you can stay around for a couple of minutes – to all the other people, thank you so much for watching. This will be the last show before summer, but I’ll be coming back right after. Have a nice day, and I’ll speak to you soon.

Hallgeir Gustavsen

Written By: Hallgeir Gustavsen

Hallgeir Gustavsen er en utrolig kjekk kar, som også er verdens beste medierådgiver fra Gvarv, i Telemark. Med dette som utgangspunkt har han tatt steget ut i verden, og til deg som kunde, for å dele av sin fortreffelighet. Med 20 års erfaring innen rådgivning og digitale flater, har han den erfaringen du trenger. Uten skam og frykt går han løs på nye utfordringer, og bryter ned dine og andres barrierer for at du skal få mest mulig for pengene. Gamle måter å tenke på skal ut, og digitale tanker skal inn. Han har vært med å bygge opp en rekke virksomheter gjennom sitt engasjement der målbare resultater fra digitale flater har stått mer sentralt enn altertavla i kirka. Hallgeir er en travel mann, men som alt annet kan han kjøpes for penger.