Go Away With … Zander Eckhouse

By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
June 22, 2010

A recent film school graduate, Zander Eckhouse gets to show off his talent and biceps in the ABC Family series “Huge,” which premiers on June 28. The series revolves around the lives of a group of teenagers at a weight-loss camp. Eckhouse, 23, plays one of the hunky camp counselors. Funny and quick on his feet, the California-based actor — who is the son of “Beverly Hills, 90210” star James Eckhouse — reveals that sometimes a case of beer and some raw meat is all you really need to pack for a nice weekend trip.

Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. Birch Island. It’s a tiny Island off the coast of Maine that looks pretty much the same as it did back when the Wabanaki were living there three hundred years ago. There’s no electricity or running water — basically just a single roomed cabin that my granddad built in the ’50s and a forest full of talking animals and magical creatures. Best summers of my life.

Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?

A. I’ve been finding myself in Joshua Tree, Calif., a lot lately. It’s a stretch of wilderness on the cusp of the Mojave Desert about two hours out of Los Angeles. There are great climbing routes and incredible views. Deserts are the most horrific of all natural landscapes. I can only be in one so long without going insane but there’s something clarifying about the desolation from time to time.

Q. What are your favorite hotels and restaurants?

A. I haven’t seen the inside of a hotel room in way too long. Once we stayed in Barceló Maya Beach Resort — this really swanky resort in Mexico — when I was a kid. All I remember is a giant chessboard and the God-like feeling every game of ordering my little brother to his doom. This was long before Harry Potter. I think that was the year we discovered room service and that you could order pancakes for lunch. We ate so many pancakes. As for restaurants, I think food is all about its context. I think the best meal I ever had was a gift shop sandwich at the top of Lone Peak in Utah. Or driving cross-country from New York University, we stopped at this home-style buffet in rural Kentucky — Moonlite Bar-B-Q (www.moonlite.com). We had been subsisting off of Pizza Lunchables for two days straight and we walked in to a queue of the nicest Midwestern Southern waitresses and tables of the most golden, glorious cornbread and pulled pork. I think the whole thing cost $10. I’m still digesting that meal. I ate so much food.

Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?

A. If it’s close, I like to pack as sparse and manly as possible. My last trip to Joshua Tree, I think it was a quarter-pound of raw meat and a case of beer. If I’m going for luxury I’ll pack a pillow. They’re incredibly useful and you look cool carrying them around everywhere. I recently lost one I’d been breaking in for, like, seven-and-a-half years. I’m still sad over that.

Q. What are your favorite cities?

A. I haven’t been to enough to know and saying New York or Los Angeles would be cheating. London. Multiplied by five? I’ve never been, but I’m a big Anglophile. I think that’s just because when you’re British the most foul, stupid things can come out of your mouth and still sound eloquent and well informed. Also Marfa, Texas.

Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?

A. Treasure maps.

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. Mars in a thousand years, once it’s terraformed? I think the best part of traveling is feeling like you’re exploring. It’s hard to find a place that doesn’t have the evidence of civilization. (Things like) rope fences on hikes and overpriced tour buses can distract you from something more grand. I’d love to get to Mars before the overpriced tour buses.

Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?

A. Oh, in March I had my best and worst combined when a friend and I decided to have a classic spring break in Rosarito, Mexico, but we neglected to read the news before we went, which had like eight different travel warnings. When we got there the town was pretty much deserted except for a few paramilitary guys. But driving back we stopped at Legoland. Wow. Completely made up for our vacation failure. For those that may not know Legoland, Legoland is a land made of Legos.

Q. How do you try to fit in when you’re a tourist?

A. I don’t speak. Every foreign language teacher I’ve had has passed me on the condition that I never utter another word in his or her native tongue again. That’s fine, English keeps me very busy.

© 2010 JAE-HA KIM

(Photo courtesy of ABC Family)


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