Travis Fimmel was working out in a Melbourne gym when his life changed forever.

Travis Fimmel was once crowned the "most in-demand male model in the world" and was believed to be the inspiration behind Sex And The City’s Smith Jerrod. He also played Jennifer Lopez’s love interest in the music video for her 2001 hit I’m Real

Oh, and do you remember those Calvin Klein underwear ads? He was reportedly paid six figures for that job – a first for any male model who donned the undergarments.

Watch: Boy Swallows Universe Official Trailer. Post continues below.

Video via Netflix.

These are the memories from the noughties we hold dear – but Fimmel has done so much more since then, and to say he’s killing it in his career now is an understatement.

Just to rewind a little, Fimmel had dreams of becoming a professional AFL star for St Kilda, but his ambitions were cut short when he broke his leg before debuting for the club. Luckily for him, he was discovered by the Chadwicks modelling agency while working out in a Melbourne gym, which led him to Los Angeles where he was signed by L.A. Models.

After a string of modelling gigs, Fimmel decided to defer his commercial architecture and engineering degree at RMIT (yep, he’s a smartypants), and the rest is history.


Now 44, Fimmel has some serious acting credits to his name, his most recent being Netflix's Boy Swallows Universe, in which he plays the role of drug dealer Lyle Orlik.

The model-turned-actor looks completely different on the show compared to his clean-shaven modelling days. 

Fimmel plays the role of drug dealer Lyle Orlik on Netflix's Boy Swallows Universe. Image: Netflix.


The drama is based on the novel of the same name by Trent Dalton and follows Eli Bell, a young boy from the suburbs of 1980s Brisbane who is confronted with life's harsh truths.

Fimmel plays Eli's drug-dealing stepfather.

"He’s a man that means very well but is very flawed and all he’s trying to do is not be a victim, get out of his lifestyle and protect the kids," Fimmel told 9Honey.

The role is just another thing Fimmel can add to his long list of achievements, and the show itself is garnering rave reviews from critics and viewers alike.

Before Boy Swallows Universe, he played the role of Anduin Lothar in Warcraft: The Beginning, which was based on the role-playing game World of Warcraft.

His new role paints him in a vastly different light compared to his modelling days. Image: Getty.


“You’d walk into a shed and there’d be this big forest and all day you’d just ride horses through a forest and try to look like you know what you’re doing,” he recalled in an interview with Herald Sun.

“It reminded me of home – my brothers throwing stuff at me and hitting me with broomsticks,” he mused.

To viewers, he was in his element as a sword-wielding battle hero, but it was his role as the male lead in the TV series Vikings that had everyone talking (and many clutching their pearls).

From 2013 to 2017, Fimmel looked worlds apart from his CK glory days, thanks to a long, matted ponytail and undercut, and a rather scraggly beard, which was often soaked in dirt or blood. Fans revolted when his character, also known as the Viking King, was thrown into a pit of venomous snakes and left for dead at the end of season four.


“I was only meant to be on the show for a year,” he explained to Interview. “I ended up being on it a bit longer.”

“I didn’t want a loud Viking, I wanted an intelligent, quiet, thoughtful Viking, and it took Travis quite a long time to come forward,” Vikings showrunner Michael Hirst told Variety, explaining that he was unhappy with who producers had initially cast.

Hirst confirmed that Fimmel’s character was only meant to hang around for one season, but once they saw him and his character’s potential, it was a no-brainer to keep him in the script.

Fimmel is an Aussie guy at heart, despite the fame and success. Image: Instagram @travla_.


Four seasons later, Hirst admitted that Fimmel’s final scene was hard to watch, as both a fan and a friend.

“When I saw it I wept, knowing that this was the end of a journey that Ragnar and I and Travis and I had been on.”

But for Fimmel, it was onward and upward. We should also note that at this point we realised he was probably the most down-to-earth actor around, with ambitions to save his hard-earned pennies to buy a farm back home in Oz – a dream he’s still working on.

“I’ve got Aussie country pride for sure. I just like where I grew up. I think you’ve got lots in common with the people who grew up the same as you,” he told Interview, admitting that he’s yet to make enough money to buy land back home near Echuca where he grew up.

“I want a big farm,” he said. “I had a two-year plan that went to a four-year plan that went to a six-year plan. I’ve been trying to do this for 16 years or something now. Plans never really turn out. I’ll get a certain amount of money then I’ll go.”

So, could Fimmel’s latest projects be his last? Quite possibly, given he’s worth around $20 million.

Last year, he starred in Black Snow, a six-part murder mystery in which he played cold-case detective James Cormack. Set and filmed in tropical Far North Queensland, his character was tasked with solving the murder of Indigenous schoolgirl Isabel Baker, who was killed on the night of her formal 25 years earlier.


“He’s got a lot of issues, childhood issues that he’s still dealing with, parental figures, and I think that’s the reason he became a cold-case detective,” he told Sydney Morning Herald of his character.

The role was grittier than some of his previous ones, and he wasn't thrashing around a sword or riding a horse, which was a nice departure for the long-time action man.

But returning to Oz was the best part of the gig, he added. 

“Airlie Beach is one of my favourite places by far in the world now. Cities are fine, they’re great, but I like nature, I like being outside, especially in Australia.”

Travis Fimmel in Black Snow.


After filming wrapped he packed his bags to head for a new set in Europe, to shoot the Dune spin-off series The Sisterhood.

“I have no idea why I became an actor, to be honest, it’s not my thing. But I enjoy trying to be good at something. Whatever you do, you’ve got to try your best, so I try to make up for it in that way, you know, and I try to entertain myself at the same time,” he told SMH, revealing he has around six films in production slated to trickle out over the next two years. 

As if he's not busy enough, Fimmel has also been busy promoting his own beer brand, Travla, which he created with good mate and MasterChef judge, Andy Allen. 

This article was first published on April 14, 2023 and has since been updated with new information.

Featured Image: Getty/Netflix.

Do you have any Streaming Video Services in your household? e.g. Netflix, Stan, etc. We want to hear from you! Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $100 gift voucher.