BFTV recently chatted with two young stars to watch in 2013: Austin Abrams, who made his Sundance Film Festival debut this year, and Kadan Rockett, best known as the "Mini Howie Mandel" on NBC's America's Got Talent.
Abrams charmed Sundance audiences in the film Toy's House, in which he appeared alongside a number of comic talents, including Alison Brie (Community), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24) and Megan Mullally (Will & Grace). The movie "is about three boys who decide to escape to a clearing in the woods, build a house, and live on their own," explained Austin. "I play Aaron, a friend of theirs that is invited to check out the house. I enjoyed the improvisation of it all, and how open the cast and director [were] to trying different things."
Asked how he came to the world of acting, "I would say I decided on acting as a career when I was about eight or so," he said. "I used to watch Nickelodeon a lot, and I told my mom that I wanted an agent so I could be on the channel. My mom was a big help in my pursuit of acting; she helped me find a way to get started. Also, an acting teacher at a summer camp helped me to get my first role, as Chip in Beauty and the Beast at a local theater."
Austin also appeared as the character of Pete in the recently released film Gangster Squad, which he called his favorite job to date because "it was a very enjoyable experience. It was fun working on a period piece, and I learned so much from [director] Ruben Fleischer and Ryan Gosling."
He doesn't have specific plans for his future just yet, but knows that he wants to continue to get better at his craft. "Right now, I have been able to balance [his career] pretty well with the support of my family and teachers," said Austin, whose other interests include aikido and playing the guitar. "All I know is that moving forward, I wish to improve as an actor and attempt to discover new things, whatever they may be."
Another young actor to watch is Kadan Rockett, who made his stage debut at just a day old, and is about to be seen in the Dimension Films movie Dark Skies alongside Keri Russell (The Americans) and Josh Hamilton (J. Edgar).
"It's a supernatural thriller," explained Kadan. "It's mostly about this family that has two kids, and they're experiencing all this weird stuff that's happening to them. Some of the neighbors think it's the children, then they find out that it's something really scary and crazy." He plays the couple's son, Sam.
Kadan is best known for appearing on America's Got Talent as the "Mini Howie Mandel," alongside his sister Brooklyn, who played the "Mini Sharon Osbourne" on the hit NBC reality series. In addition to acting, Kadan can also perform magic and ventriloquism. Videos of those additional talents are available on YouTube here and here.
He credits his father, Bart Rockett - himself an entertainer with a variety of skills - for getting him interested in entertainment. (You can check out Bart's website here.) And it's not just a phase, as he says he sees himself "still doing acting when I'm a little older."
When he's not performing, Kadan said, "I just go home with my little sister and play around with her." But even then he's still kind of bitten by the entertainment bug: "I also love to direct her around, pretend I'm a director."
Dark Skies opens on February 22.
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.