by Carrie Adams
When Andrew Butterfield graduated with his Masters in Fine Arts in Acting from the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, he was well on his way to becoming a working actor. Moving to Los Angeles he went through the usual pains associated with trying to get your career off the ground. He had an agent and was going on eight auditions a day, getting told “no” eight times a day and then he booked a great part – a role on a popular television show, “Medium.” “I was the guy who sold the drugs the guy who used to kill the guy.” he explains with a laugh. “And that was my TV debut! I had 5 lines and they cut four but it was an awesome experience!” Shortly after his appearance he came to a shocking conclusion. “I realized I was pursuing things for other people not for myself.” So the classically trained actor did what any actor does when they find a new calling, he moved to Vermont. I had spent three years in L.A. but I would come back to this awesome theater and equestrian camp on Mallat’s Bay [in Vermont] and through that I fell in love and when it came time to leave LA there was only one place to go.”
The move was “The best life decision I ever made,” claims Butterfield and it was a perfect fit for the classically trained actor, now 31, who currently works as the Marketing Sales director at Vermont’s largest Health Club, the Edge, and lives in Burlington, VT. His creative side isn’t completely squelched, he also has a Production Company called Projection Films that makes regional commercials and films. The most recent project they are working on is “Soul Keeper” which is an adaptation of Vermont author Joseph A. Citro’s book of the same title. Says Butterfield, “Citro is an interesting guy. He toes the line between Fiction and Reality. He’s basically known as the Stephen King of Vermont.”
For the actor who grew up in Ohio and played college soccer, he’s always been on the athletic side, even being heralded in a Romeo and Juliet review as being an “athletic Romeo.”
Explains Butterfield, “Shakespeare’s language requires that kind of action.” Once settled in Vermont and grounded in his new life, he joined a soccer team and met his now best friend Neil Preston (another Death Race participant.) Butterfield read about the Death Race in a local paper, “Seven Days” and admits, “I showed Neil and another friend Jared the article and joked that we should do it… and they said, “no we’re going to do this.” That first year, I went down as support crew and when I got there I was disappointed for not having signed up. I knew I’d do it the next year.”
Butterfield did the race in 2010 and was featured in a popular video about the event. He lasted 24 hours and was in 8th place when he dropped out. “I sat down for the first time in 24 hours and I saw people eating a pound of onion and it was 7PM. I realized I was underprepared. I didn’t have enough food or water or clothing and I had made mental errors.” When he got to the base of the mountain he saw his friend Neil Preston who handed him a beer and they cheered. He then drove himself home.
“This race is so much about being mentally prepared and this year winning is finishing. I am preparing myself for that and I am prepared to be out there as long as it takes.”
Butterfield cites a milestone, turning 30 as a major turning point for him. “It was one of the best years of my life!” He says, “I quit smoking., I woke up on Jan 4th 2010 and I tried to have a cigarette and I had smoked for seven years and I just didn’t want it anymore.”
He was also inspired by words he heard from a music teacher he had growing up, “My saxophone teacher said “existence is death” the moment you start existing life stops. That meant something to me. I have had to be busy my entire life all the time. I want to do everything.” he pauses, “Downtime is dangerous.”
He has company in the Death Race this year. “Five guys on my soccer team are doing the race.” He says, a soccer team aptly named “Spartans.” The team has a spear with a flag on it behind the bench during games. Butterfield has committed himself to not worrying about anything outside the race as it unfolds. “All my bases are covered.” he says. “Where I am going out sleep to how I am getting home, clothing, rain, kits at basecamp, night kit, being prepared.”
Physically, he’s been hiking, playing soccer and using Bikram Yoga as part of his routine. Training with weights and with his friends who will join him at the starting line. Mostly, he’s just readying himself for for the event as an athlete, a role, it seems, he’s been preparing for his whole life.