Celebrity Interview: Oakes Fegley and Jaden Michael Talk on Wonderstruck, Casting, and Acting Advice

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Oakes Fegley and Jaden Michael, the two teen stars of the magical film Wonderstruck, released from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, recently participated in the media day and agreed to meet at the Four Seasons for an interview. 

With much of the film focused on Ben, played by Oakes Fegley, and Jamie, played by Jaden Michael, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview the two talented up and coming leading men of tomorrow together.

Walking in the suite. they both came in from looking over the balcony and both had very firm handshakes we shook hands and they introduced themselves. They both seemed very comfortable and not at all taken with the actuality of their positions.

To set the stage, Ben has suffered hearing loss after a lightning strike hits the telephone wires in his old house in Missouri while he was attempting to make a call to a New York bookstore as he continued the search for his Dad.

He decides to run away to New York to find his Dad. His mother's recent death only made the journey seem more inevitable.

In New York he finds his way to the address on the bookmark, and happens to see Jamie who is walking with his dad to work at the Museum of Natural History. As Ben, knows no one in New York and Jamie seems like a normal kid he follows him until they both end of in the Museum.  

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An excerpt of my interview follows:

Janet Walker: Congratulations on the film. I was fortunate enough to see it a couple of times. So tell me about the casting process?

Oakes Fegley: The casting process for this film was like the casting process for all the films I've been in; I sent in a taped audition and then went in and meet with Todd [Hayes, the Director]. And for this film, I did  a chemistry test for Jaden. But then what was a little different in this casting process then some of the other things I've done, that the two scenes I did for this film my character is hearing and one is when my character is deaf and there is a contrast there I think Todd really wanted to see. So I had a lot of fun playing around with that.

Jaden Michael: It was very similar only that when I got past the first audition I was asked into the casting office. It was a very different kind of casting process because when I was auditioning, I'm writing and I had to write I'm supposed to write and react to the casting assistant who is behind the camera and I'm writing and then my line is reaction to what she is saying and it was so interesting to have that form of communication that is writing.

JW: So tell me a little bit about your backgrounds? Are both of you in L.A.?

JM: I'm from New York City, born and raised. I was born in New York City, I moved to Jersey for a short period of time. Moved back to New York City and still live there. I grew up in the Museum of Natural History. My aunt lives up the block, literally. And so I was so close and I loved it.

OF: Yea. So I actually live in Pennsylvania. I live in Allentown, Pennsylvania. So that's where I was born and raised.

JW: So how do you find Allentown in association with your acting career?

OF: It's not so bad. We do a lot of taped auditions on the computer. But also, I'm only 90 minutes away from New York City. So I go up there all the time for auditions and it's really an awesome place.

JW: So tell me about some of the challenges you faced in the film? And what was your biggest challenge?

OF: Well some of the challenges I faced, obviously I haven't lost my mother in real life, and also I'm not deaf, also another challenge is adapting the script into your own vision and the way you think about the script and that was definitely a challenge.  But working on that was interesting and my greatest challenge was becoming a deaf character which was something that was very new to me. I had a lot of fun playing around with that.

JW: Jaden?

JM: Um. It was challenges to write to have to remember the have in mind this character has divorced parents and this is a time when NYC is not so nice and also keeping in mind this kid has been through some things and he doesn't fit in with everyone. And that's why he cooks so well with ben because both of them are trying to find out where they belong. So one of the challenges have to conversate with someone who couldn't hear and to create a form of communication.

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JW: A group of ten year old boys and girls who wanted to know how did you break into showbusiness and What's your advice for kids your age?

Jaden: My advice is never give up. If you want to get into acting, and this isn't just for acting, it's for everything. You should first dabble in it and see if you really enjoy it never give up.

Because there so many lot of times in this business you just feel like this is it for me. I don't want to do it anymore. It's too time consuming or whatever your excuse might be. It something that when you're doing it you're enjoying it so much you could never give up and keep on going and keep on striving even if there is a point in time where you're not getting any auditions and your feeling bummed about it. Just keep on going because you never know where the road will take you.

Oakes: That's really good. I like that. Some of my advice. When someone says I don't like the way you did that or that didn't seem very real to me then you don't need to listen to them and you can keep going and you can create your own vision of what you need to do. Also if you just in it to become an actor so you can say, "'I'm an Actor"' and for the money and for the fame that's not something you should do. If fame and money come along with it that's fine.

But the first and foremost thing should be always be the work and putting in the work and making sure it is something you want to do and enjoy and that you are passionate about because if it not something you're passionate about then don't do it.

And I think that goes for not only people who are trying to get into acting but for everybody. For everybody who wants to not only have a hobby but make that hobby their job or do something that they really feel passionate about then work on and work hard for it.

Oakes Fregly and Jaden Michaels, the next generation of Tiger Beat pin ups, are incredibly nice, seriously have it together and love what they do.  

Fan of Oakes can see him next February in "The War With Grandpa." He stars opposite Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walken, Uma Thurman, Jane Seymour, Cheech Marin, and Rob Riggle.

For Jaden, UNICEF has tapped him to be the spokesperson for the World Children's Day. He is raising awareness for the plight of children throughout the world as the official voice for World Children's Day, which is on November 20. We'll be seeing a lot more of him very soon.

The two star in Wonderstruck which is in theater now. 


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