On October 29, Peeter Rebase’s film “Firebird” will be released in the cinemas. We talked to Tom Prior, who plays the main character Sergei. Tom himself is a great sports fan who has repeatedly visited MyFitness sports clubs in Estonia. Tom has travelled all over the world and visited various gyms but our clubs hold a special place in his memories. How to stay fit in a fast paced world and what are the actor’s training and eating habits? Enjoy reading!

What are your connections and first contact with Estonia?

When I was working in Los Angeles in 2014, I was introduced to a film financier who had just come across Peeter Rebane’s first draft of Firebird (then it was called ‘Roman’) and she thought I would be perfect to play the main part of Sergey in the film, so she then introduced me to Peeter back in London several weeks later at a Christmas party gathering. When Peeter and I met, we had a lot in common, I was fascinated by the story, and that is where I first learnt of the story, and my first connection to Estonia.

Where do you live daily basis?

I was living in London for many years, and while Peeter Rebane and I were writing the script together we traveled between Estonia and England a lot. The film is a British/Estonian production, so that meant that living between the two countries worked well. Our production company ‘The Factory’ is based in Tallinn. Since the pandemic I’ve been spending most of my time in Estonia. Although saying that I’ve been traveling a lot around the world during the pandemic too with all the post production of the film, and the film festival tour!

What does your ordinary day look like?

Hahahaha. Im not sure I ever have an ordinary day! I have certain things which I will make sure I do during the day, but not necessarily routine! In fact I kind of dislike routine, although it can be very useful to have one. I get bored of doing the same thing day after day. So I think that’s why I love shooting movies, as no day really is ever the same! I will make sure I train in the gym at least every other day, and make sure I eat food which I love, emails and creative work, and that’s as close to a routine as I get!

What are your favourite (sports) activities?

My favourite sports are running, swimming and gyming. I actually also love to climb and boulder too!

How do you combine acting/shooting and sports?

How I look physically determines what sorts of roles which I play in films, and also which I` would like to play, so its quite closely connected. If I got really muscles and big for example it could actually make getting some jobs harder, cos it would then be a very specific look, and reduce possibility for castings. However, I also would LOVE to do a body transformation for a film, for example get into ‘superhero’ shape! So it can actually be part of my actor’s preparation.

Do you prefer a gym or group workouts and why?

I prefer gym most of the time, although I do love a good group spinning class. I’m actually a qualified personal trainer too, though I don’t work as one, clearly! But I love to go at my own pace during workouts, experiment and try new things, gym time is very precious time to me, dedicating time and attention to the body in which we enjoy all of life through!

How do you evaluate Estonian fitness clubs (MyFitness) regarding other clubs you have been all over the word?

I have been to A LOT of gyms all over the world, over many many years, and I can honestly say that MyFitness gyms really are as the slogan says, “World Class”. I love TechnoGym equipment, it really one of my favourite brands to use, in terms of aesthetics and quality of equipment. I love the Ulemiste MyFitness particularly, its a beautifully designed space, and so light and colourful. I really mean it when I say, they are some of my favourite gyms to train in in the world. I can say I always look forward to coming back to Estonia and training at MyFitness.

How do you see the development of fitness/active lifestyle among your generation?

I think fitness is so important, not only for how you look on the outside, but also how you feel on the inside. I’m talking about mental health, which is so important. Now in the age of Instagram there is this crazy pressure to look like an underwear model all the time! And we all know which pictures get the most amount of interactions! So I think fitness is so important for all generations, but also how you feel about your body too. Being kind a grateful to my body as much as I remember to be, for taking me through life is so important, as it is how we interact with the world and enjoy our life. I truly believe that health really is the greatest wealth you can have.

How has your healthy lifestyle been helpful during your career? Some examples would be great!

Healthy lifestyle is so important as an actor. When I have a 12 hour shooting day (which means 13 hours at the film set) not including travelling from hotels or home to the set, you aren’t getting as much sleep as you’d like. So by being fit in advance of this, it means that my body can take quite a bit of stress during this time. If I didn’t take care of myself, that would mean I would likely get sick or run down much faster. Regular fitness and exercise keeps up my energy levels, I find that I actually have a lot more energy when I am exercising very regularly. Being in good shape also means that I would feel as self conscious if I have to do a scene without a shirt (or any clothes)! The less self conscious you can be as an actor the better, so I can focus on being truthful in my scenes. I also trust that if I remain healthy I will look younger longer, so hopefully I have a longer career! Finally, when you are acting very strong emotions, such as stress, or grief, or fear, you’re body is actually producing those stress chemicals and hormones which can long term cause illness, so I practice being as healthy as possible, so these effects don’t harm my health while shooting the film, even if it is short term.

Are you dreaming of a role in an action movie to put your physical form to a test?

Absolutely! I would love to shoot more films like the first film I ever shot, “Kingsman: The Secret Service”. I love action films which have really great stories, and I would love to make more of these! I would love to get into superhero share, something like a Marvel movie perhaps haha. But also I grew up watching James Bond, Jason Bourne and reading comics like Tintin, so really those are my dream roles.

Do you consider yourself a movie star? Do you / would you like to be one?

I think in order to become something, one must act like it. So perhaps if I acted a bit more like I movie star I would become one! Haha. Yes I would actually like to be one. There is great responsibility in being an position like that, but also you can then have really great influence for positive change. I love to inspire people, and to help them realise just how powerful and gifted they are. And I love to play characters and situations which inspire people, which make them feel more alive. I feel very blessed and grateful to have played such a role like this in Firebird. I would be very grateful to become very known and create positive change in the world.

Do you enjoy walking on a red carpet or running on a forest trail?

I’d say both! Red Carpet is an amazing experience particularly if people have actually already seen the film, I love hearing people’s genuine and meaningful reactions to films. But yes I still absolutely love running on a forest trail, and with my husky too! There is something so recharging about running in a forest or by the sea. Thankfully Estonia has lots of amazing forests!

How well have you got to know Estonia already? Any favourite places or people or food?

I have been to many parts of Estonia over the years I have been living between London and Estonia. We travelled to many different places during the shooting of the film. I love the city vibe of Pärnu, and the beach there! I love the nature of South Estonia, swimming in the lakes near Rougè. There’s a really great cafe down there called SuurMuna which I loved. Another favourite place to eat is Põhjaka Mõis, I love their local sourcing of food, and creative dishes. And in Tallinn, I love Komeet – the commitment to clean, healthy and organic food is so inspiring. But my absolute favourite spot for baked goods is Karkase Sai, and Kenneth and Eva who created is are amazing people. Favourite coffee in Tallinn? Defiantly either Paper Mill or KoKoMo. I loved visiting Saaremaa, the castle was awesome and the town has a great vibe. The ancient forests near Lahema are amazing too! I love winter in Estonia, I love the cold and when it snows!

Is there anything else you do to keep such a great shape? (meditation? nutrition?)

Both of these for sure. I think its SO true what they say about Abs being made in the kitchen! I love to cook for myself, and its SO important for me that the food tastes so great. I cannot stand it is someone says “you have to eat chicken and rice and broccoli and that it” – I’d say I’ll only do it if you can make it tasty! And its so possible to do that quite easily with a bit of imagination, but its going to taste good. Otherwise, you will want to go and eat something more unhealthy to get that taste. Healthy food can taste absolutely orgasmic, but so often people don’t dream enough to create it. Its one of my passions, it to take traditionally ‘unhealthy’ meals or dishes, and make them way more healthy, and sometimes it’s as easy as switching a couple of ingredients! Meditation is also SO important to me. I almost never miss a day, and I’ve done a number of meditation retreats which have been truly life changing. Meditation allows me to quite my mind, quiet down the negative or limiting thoughts, and to focus on creating new possibilities. I’ve very interested to learn how to self hypnotise! The subconscious part of ourselves is SO powerful. If we can harness the power of that, we can really help change out health and our perception of life.

Who should watch your latest movie “Firebird” which is filmed in Estonia?

If you love a thriller story with a romance at the centre, it is defiantly for you. We have had such a diversity of audiences from all around the world enjoying the film! I think there is honestly something in the film for everyone We have a couple of great action sequences, we have some very emotional and raw drama, some great Soviet and Cold War history. Plus there are elements of the film around Shakespeare and Stravinsky’s Firebird too. And it’s all based on a true story, and set in Estonia’s history at Haapsalu airforce base.


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