"My entire life path was directed towards being a Grand Illusionist," Rob Lake on his magical journey so far
Rob Lake is amongst the world's most celebrated illusionists, well-known for captivating large numbers of people and for entertaining millions across network television.
He was most recently on 'America's Got Talent' and even secured a place as a quarterfinalist. The massively successful and unique illusionist has sold-out casinos, arenas, and theatres worldwide.
Caesars Entertainment has even dubbed Rob 'The Top Illusionist in the World' and he is known for his mesmerizing and award-winning illusion spectaculars. In 2008, Rob became the youngest ever magician in history to receive the highest award of the magic world - The Merlin Award - and was named the ‘International Stage Magician of the Year,' which happens to be magic's highest honor and is considered equivalent to an Oscar.
Rob's illusions and magical effects can also be seen in multiple theatrical productions across the globe, including the likes of 'The Phantom of the Opera' and over 900 productions of Disney’s 'Beauty & the Beast'. He has also performed several death-defying illusions for audiences at the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas, Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, and even the White House.
When he is not performing magic, he is working it elsewhere and dedicates much of his free time to animal rescue, a cause which he holds very close to his heart. Meaww spoke to Rob about his unique and magical journey so far:
When did your passion for illusion begin? Has this been something that has always intrigued you?
I’ve had a passion for “magic” in a broader sense as far back as I can remember. Growing up, my heroes were and still are Walt Disney, Jim Henson, and Steven Spielberg; wizards in their own realms. I was obsessed with them, studying them regularly. When I was 10, I saw a magic show with my family for the first time, and I wasn’t just hooked, I knew that I would be doing that my entire life. I instantly knew my entire life path was directed towards being a Grand Illusionist.
Could you describe the feeling right before you perform? Do you have any pre-show rituals to calm your nerves and keep you pumped?
When I started out, I got nervous onstage, and I would talk super fast and quietly, and no one could understand me. Over many years of doing this, the stage fright and nerves went away, and I really feel at ease and at home onstage. There is a rush, but not a nervous energy. For me, it is an excitement and anticipation that I’m about to do great wonders for the audience for the next 90 minutes to 2 hours, and always a tremendous sense of gratitude. These people in the audience have decided to spend their hard-earned money for me to entertain them. What an honor that is!
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of being an illusionist?
Easy. Logistics. Because I have the largest touring illusion show in the world, sometimes I tour with four semi-trucks of gear! The logistics, planning, and all of the behind-the-scenes work just to make a show happen is a daily challenge and biggest drain of time and energy. Since I tour, each illusion must be designed, built, and staged so it can be easily traveled and changed every day on tour.
What do you think is the closest you have been to a dangerous situation?
Being in show business feels very dangerous enough! One time, I fell through a stage. Backstage there was unmarked construction stuff happening, and as I just casually walked across it, I fell through a hole filled with metal spikes. I’m lucky that I ended up with stitches and a back injury, as it could have been much much worse!
Being on a platform like ‘America’s Got Talent’ must have been quite an experience. What was that experience like? How did it feel to shock the likes of Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks?
Everyone I met at AGT was very nice and chill. The overall process was very very involved for 5-6 months and exhausting. I went in realizing I probably wouldn’t make it too far on the show. Their format just isn’t ideal for an illusionist, but I’m so happy with how it turned out. Meeting Heidi and Tyra was a lot of fun. They were genuinely shocked (and so was Mel B!) I only wish they had aired ALL of the commentaries from Heidi, Tyra & Mel B!
You mentioned that it took you seven years to create this illusion, could you tell us a bit about your process?
To be honest, the idea formulated long before the process 7 years ago. When I was a teenager, my mentor introduced me to a magic inventor from Canada. This inventor, as well as my mentor, spent way more time giving advice, sharing his ideas, and giving input (I’ve had such great support my entire career). I was given two ideas/illusion plans from this guy, and he told me whenever I had a show big enough to perform them I could. One of the ideas he gave me was the start of the inspiration for this illusion.
But I wanted to take it further. My goal was to create the most impossible illusion. I wanted to have totally randomly selected volunteers. I wanted to have everything examined and out in the open. I wanted to remove myself completely from the equation to prevent any form of misdirection, and I wanted to make magic happen surrounded by impossibilities. Over 7 years, I designed, built, rebuilt, tested, threw out, started over…. countless times. Eventually, the illusion made it into my show, and then on AGT where millions and millions have seen it.
Can you tease us with what is to come in your next act?
I’m always working on new illusions! I keep a notebook next to my bed so that I can write ideas down if I get them in the middle of the night. While I have several things in the works… I’ll tease you with two new things that will debut soon. I also like challenges. When I was 13, I had an idea for an illusion and I’m still working on it. It has taken 22 years to get to this stage, and it is finally close to going to my show (it involves cutting myself in half)!
In the very first magic show I saw, the illusion that astounded me the most was when the magician walked through a solid mirror. I’ve also been wanting to create my own version of this since I was a kid…and finally, it should be in the show very soon!
Congratulations on winning the ‘Merlin Award’, what was it like being the youngest magician to ever do so?
Amazing! My magical heroes all had Merlin Awards. I had video sets from the International Magicians Society (they award the Merlin) as a kid. So getting to meet their President (who has since become a dear friend), and to be in the same category as my idols and heroes was a big honor. I dreamed of one day receiving this award, and never imagined I would have it so early on!
Being a magic consultant must mean you have to constantly improvise and think of new illusion tricks, how are you able to conceptualize your illusions?
Creating illusions for TV/Film, Theatrical Plays, and Musicals, and even industry events is a blast! I love challenges, and in these settings, I always have to work within the confines of production. These limitations force me to change ideas, methods and redevelop things constantly.
What has been your most favorite illusion so far?
This is always a tough question to answer. I pour so much of my devotion, my energy, and myself into the creation of an illusion. It’s hard to pick a favorite. And, my experience of an illusion is completely different from the audience experience. I enjoy the interactive parts of the show with the audience, because it is always different and changing, and new ideas come from these spur-of-the-moment changes.
Is there any message that you would like to give the illusionists who are working on achieving the level of success that you did?
Stay dedicated. No one will fight harder for your dreams than you, and always trust yourself and your instincts. Usually, they are right. But most importantly, remember why you started this, remember that joy and wonder you had experiencing magic, and make sure you keep feeling that way.
What are your biggest career goals?
My goal is to get on TV (again) to distribute magic and perform my illusions before many more people. And, ultimately to keep loving what I do.