Trinwith opens up about his career-halting health setback, upcoming projects and staying true to himself in the film industry.
Almost every person hoping to make their mark in the film world is faced with a similar list of challenges — whether hesitancy from family members, the financial inability to move to a larger city or perhaps something as simple as discovering what sets them apart as an actor. However, the journey of an actor known for “Law & Order” and “VEEP,” Spencer Trinwith has looked a little bit different, giving him a sense of determination and a perspective that takes none of his success for granted.
“A year ago, I was still in a walker getting around,” Trinwith said. “If you had told me I’d have five different movies that I’m doing this summer, I’d just say, ‘Wow it sounds like a real miracle happened.’ That just makes this all even more sweet. Going from that, to now — doing my art and so much amazing physical stunt work — is really, really cool.”
At the age of 21, Trinwith was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, which became nearly incapacitating. After undergoing an intensive fusion surgery at the Washington Hospital Center, he was left with a long recovery prognosis and the hope of returning to his acting career hanging in question.
“You just sort of forget what it’s like to be a human being,” Trinwith said. “Any kind of spontaneity, I couldn’t have. I really felt like I was stranded on a space station somewhere alone. Hanging out with somebody meant that I would have to walk, take the metro or drive, and oftentimes that would just be too much.”
During this time, Trinwith focused on his career goals in order to stay grounded. The actor, named after Hollywood icon Spencer Tracy, says he was “bred” for the field, having grown up surrounded by acting parents and an environment that encouraged the arts — from participating in his dad’s school plays and performing theater productions like Richard III at DC’s Shakespeare Theatre , portraying the lead in Dead Man Walking, and spending four years at the prestigious University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Trinwith thrived in the acting world. He never lost sight of his dreams during his recovery period, and even laughingly said, “I told my doctor (Dr. James Tozzi) on my year review that I was going to be giving him a lot of shoutouts, so here’s the first one.”
The actor has made huge strides in the months following his recovery, starring in new films including “John Doe” and “Saved By Grace,” which included working with Hollywood veteran Rawn Hutchinson of the Halloween movie franchise, and the film Really Love, currently shooting in the DC area, as well as acting in the upcoming “Wonder Woman 1984.” He said he enjoyed getting to spend time in the District for the filming of the sequel, and is excited for his friends and family to see the movie at the end of 2019.
Although he considers the city home, “I don’t think I’ve been in DC for more than two weeks for the past four months because I’m always going off to the next location,” Trinwith said. “But I’m getting to see all these different parts of America that I’ve never experienced or been to. I’m finding that I’m really just living out of my suitcase, and I get such a kick out of it.”
Trinwith said he recently spent time in Arizona for the filming of the action western “John Doe,” undergoing long, 12-hour workdays in the middle of the desert. Nonetheless, he said he enjoyed the challenge of the location and playing a new type of character.
“I’m very excited about this one because they offered me the lead role of playing the villain’s right-hand man,” Trinwith said. “They always get to die some fiery death, so for me that’s all I needed to hear. My favorite kind of role is the villain that you’re sort of rooting for, and at the last second, they decide to do the right thing. I love that because it’s complicated, and that’s kind of how life is. It’s not always about good versus evil.” Trinwith has just completed Saved by Grace, a WWII period film slated for the domestic and international film festival circuit.
Trinwith says he brings that same, insightful mindset to all of his roles, seeking to combine the scene requirements with elements of his own perspective.
“With acting, the simple choice is usually the truest choice,” Trinwith said. “I think that it’s easy to feel like you have to push to get somewhere — maybe a very emotional scene where the character is supposed to be crying or in a rage. You can run the risk of doing way too much, so I try to act from how I, Spencer, am feeling in the moment. Maybe I don’t cry in this part, because I feel really tired. It’s about being honest as a person.”
This maturity has significantly helped Trinwith in his versatility as an actor, as well as given him a more open mindset in his own life. He said he especially enjoys spending time in the District because of its diversity and constant exposure to new and challenging perspectives.
“There’s people from all over the place in DC, whether it’s for their job or school,” Trinwith said. “In most towns, there’s a lot of like-minded folks, but here you have so many different perspectives all in one city — and I really do think that’s something unique about this area.”
“I just feel really lucky to be here in this city, and to be doing everything that I am doing,” Trinwith continued, however it hasn’t left much time for house hunting in Los Angeles[he plans to split his time between both coasts], I was supposed to be in Los Angeles three weeks ago!” Trinwith says, “acting is all about what it means to be a human, discovering why we do the things we do, and connecting with people. So that has very much been a part of my healing process and coming back to who I am.”