With upcoming roles in Warner Brothers' "Thunderstruck" and Judd Apatow's "This is Forty" Spencer Daniels' star is certainly on the rise. it is a miracle that this young actor had the time for my "In The Moment" interview. Yet here he is, and this interview is his first, of many to come. His story is inspiring and you heard it here first.
Have you ever wondered what it's like to live the "Life of a Child Actor" under the best of circumstances in Hollywood? So often, we immerse ourselves in media stories of "Young Talent Gone Wrong", and there are plenty of horror stories spewing from every media outlet imaginable. Yet, there are many untold "healthy" young actor stories filled with integrity, loyalty, perseverance and success. Spencer Daniels' story is one of them. My exclusive interview with him is here:
When did you know that you wanted to be an Actor?
Spencer: I knew that I wanted to be an Actor when I saw the movie "Jingle All the Way." Arnold Schwarzenegger was in it, Sinbad was in it, and Phil Hartman was in it. I was a Christmas movie. I remember that I used to watch it all of the time at one of my grandparent's house. I remember thinking specifically that, it wasn't a great movie, but being a kid a feeling like 'Oh my God! This new world!' I remember Sinbad was this bad antagonist that really got in Arnold Schwarzenegger's way and to me it was like, 'Oh my God, they're super heroes. They're in this different world!' And I really wanted to be a part of this world. That was the first time I thought, 'I think I could do that. I think I could kind of pretend to be in a different world.' I don't know what that says about me at the time, but I definitely was sparked by something at that time.
When and how did you begin to pursue your career as an Actor?
Spencer: I went to my first (acting) camp and I think it was with some guy named Jonathan? He directed the first camp. The next time you directed me (in acting class), you said to my Mom, 'You should go do extra work and see if he really likes film and television work.' And I did really like it, apparently. I remember specifically doing "Judging Amy" and I was there from like 6 in the morning till like, 9:30 at night... whatever the rules are for children. It was a long day and I remember just loving it!
What would you say has been your greatest challenge?
Spencer: What I learned when I used to go to auditions is that because I come from a very athletic background, specifically playing baseball growing up, when you hit a ball in Baseball you know if you're going to get a single. You know that you hit it, you got a double. You're there, you succeeded. In Acting, you do something good or at least you think it's good and you don't know. It's so much of a guessing game. It's so much luck. My biggest achievement was knowing that I could just let it go. At some point you just gotta do it and let it go because for so long I would audition and be worried, 'Did they think I was good? Because I thought I was good.' That messed me up for other things. It's all a real head game. It helped when I was finally able to feel like, 'I did it. It's fine. It's over.' Kind of move on. That was the biggest thing.
You moved on pretty quickly, because shortly after that I think you booked your first guest star on "Cold Case"?
Spencer: Yeah, on "Cold Case." I played a military cadet and they had to shave my hair. That was the first real 'Oh my gosh!' huge production and trailers. I didn't even know what a trailer was. I remember either my Dad or my Mom were on set and they were like, 'You got a trailer!' and I remember being like, 'a trailer for me? Just for me?' I remember going in there and just being wide-eyed. It was a little Honey Wagon. It was literally a little slice of nothing, but I remember walking in and thinking 'Oh my Go, it says my name on there!' It didn't even say my name, it said my character's name, but I was in awe of everything. It was an amazing experience.
Then your next role was on "The Office'?
Spencer: That was another amazing thing! I was ten at the time and I remember going in there and reading the script and thinking, 'is this a comedy?' Because on the page it's very direct and flat and I read it kind of like a drama and they ended up really liking it. It was an amazing experience. To be able to work with anyone that amazing at comedy and Improv; it was like going to school every day in comedy. It was amazing.
Shortly after that you booked your first major Feature Film.
Spencer: Shortly after that I booked "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." That was an interesting way that came about. I read for it on a Friday and the next day I had baseball practice. I went to practice and I was very in 'game mode'; I'm practicing with my friends and I see my mom park her car about 100 yards away from the field -- you can see the whole thing because it's all chain link. I thought 'It's only been a half-hour, there's no way practice is over.' She was coming towards the field at a steady pace and I thought 'this isn't good.' She yells at me 'Spencer! We need to go!' I am 150% mortified that my mom is pulling me off the baseball field and my mom said, 'Deborah said you booked this thing, and we have to go to New Orleans -- I think you're playing a young Brad Pitt, but I don't know. We have to go, now.' And long story short, I was on plane that night to New Orleans.
I'm glad I was so young because it was such a huge, massive undertaking; everything was so big, there was just so much of it. When I got there it was like, 'This is David Fincher.' I didn't know who that was at the time and I'm glad I didn't because I probably would have frozen up or something. It was an amazing time and I am so happy to have been a part of it!
How was it working with David Fincher?
Spencer: We did about one-hundred-and-fifty-million takes. I don't know that exact number, but there were so many takes. It was very taxing, but it was amazing! He would do this thing where he would come over, think about it, and then say 'say this differently' or 'here's a different line.' He was very collaborative. He was working on this huge movie -- with these huge actors -- and here he was taking the time to work with this little kid to get everything right. It was awesome as a young performer to have someone that was very supportive. He was an absolute joy to work with! (continued...)
To view Part II of this interview, read: Kids and Teens - "In The Moment" Interview with Teen Actor Spencer Daniels Part II.
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