Kennewick bodybuilder auditions for 'Spartacus'

By Dori O'Neal, Herald staff writerMarch 21, 2011 

Jack Sandberg does a pretty good imitation of The Governator -- aka Arnold Schwarzennegger.

The Kennewick bodybuilder also has the beefed-up muscles to go with that masquerade.

But impersonating Arnold is not what's going to get Sandberg a shot at a walk-on role as a gladiator in the Starz TV series Spartacus.

He's hoping it will be his rippling muscles, his savvy sword play, and his menacing snarl that will do the trick.

Sandberg, a 37-year-old certified fitness instructor at Universal Gym, decided to try out for the contest with help from professional video producer Owen Mansfield of Kennewick. The two created a video with Sandberg decked out in his gladiator duds wielding a sword in the park as well as working out in a gym.

"I decided to try out for the (Spartacus) part of the inner warrior because I've wanted to be an actor since I was 4 years old," Sandberg said.

He even earned a degree in theater, as well as Spanish, while attending Central Washington University.

But it was bodybuilding that has played a more important role in his life.

"I was picked on a lot as a kid," he said. "I weighed 78 pounds in junior high. My football coach had to order a special helmet for me because all the helmets were too big. I wrestled at 108 pounds as a freshman at Pasco High. But even though I was small in high school, I had heart."

That dedication earned him nine letters in varsity sports, three inspirational awards in wrestling, a MVP award in football and athlete of the year award as a senior. It also pushed him to begin a bodybuilding regimen that year.

Regardless of his devotion to sports, "The mind can play games with you when you're the little guy and you struggle with your self image," he said. "That's when I started bodybuilding."

Don't think for a minute that those muscles mean Sandberg is all brawn and no brain. He earned the scholar athlete award as a senior at Pasco and held a 3.5 GPA through high school. He's also fluent in Spanish and served a tour with the Navy.

He's also a devoted husband and father. He and his wife Maribel have a 5-year-old son and another child on the way.

Mansfield wrapped up the warrior video this week and will send it to the Starz network. Sandberg said another Kennewick resident, Jansen Wodehouse, 17, also is making a warrior video for the Starz contest.

"I'm very excited to see what happens with the results," Sandberg said. "I believe in myself, that I have the inner warrior spirit they're looking for. We'll see what unfolds."

In the meantime, he will stay focused on helping his clients stay in shape as well as preparing himself for state bodybuilding competitions later this year.

"You must have stage presence if you're going to compete in bodybuilding and succeed," he said.

Sandberg definitely has the stage presence, and he's hoping the producers of the show see it also.

Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com

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