Emo­tional heavy­weight champ

Van­cou­ver wun­derkind Ja­cob Trem­blay takes on an­other com­plex role with Won­der

Winnipeg Sun - - SHOWBIZ - DAVID FRIEND

Ja­cob Trem­blay is search­ing for the best way to de­scribe what it’s like act­ing be­hind a face pros­thetic.

In his new film Won­der, the 11-year-old Van­cou­ver ac­tor plays Aug­gie, a boy born with a se­vere fa­cial de­for­mity. He’s up against ma­jor so­cial hur­dles as he em­barks on his first year of pub­lic school and the judge­men­tal eye of oth­ers.

Trem­blay por­trays the role dis­guised by an ar­ti­fi­cial face that was shaped from his own.

“They put some­thing like slime (on me), but it wasn’t slime. It was sil­i­cone. Not liq­uid, but like smoothie,” he says, paus­ing for a mo­ment to con­sider the de­scrip­tion. “It was like a smoothie.” Won­der is based on the teen novel by R.J. Pala­cio, which retells Aug­gie’s story from the per­spec­tives of a num­ber of peo­ple in his life, in­clud­ing his sis­ter and his friends. The film mostly ditches those an­gles and fo­cuses on the boy’s viewpoint.

Aug­gie suf­fers from what the book calls mandibulo­fa­cial dysos­to­sis, a rare con­di­tion that’s considered a vari­a­tion of Treacher Collins syn­drome. His fa­cial bones are un­der­de­vel­oped and his ears de­formed.

Trem­blay pre­pared for his part by talk­ing with pa­tients at Toronto’s Hos­pi­tal for Sick Chil­dren, where a special screen­ing of the film was planned for Nov. 20.

Step­ping into a role fea­tur­ing a young­ster with adult-sized prob­lems has be­come some­thing of a spe­cialty for Trem­blay. He cap­tured hearts as an im­pris­oned child in the Os­car-nom­i­nated 2015 film Room, and in Burn

Your Maps he played a young boy who suf­fers a fam­ily tragedy and comes to be­lieve he is ac­tu­ally a Mon­go­lian goat herder.

He has also went on to star along­side Hol­ly­wood heavy­weights like Naomi Watts in The Book of Henry and Natalie Port­man in the up­com­ing drama The Life and Death of John F. Dono­van.

Won­der is com­pa­ra­bly lighter fare that’s packed with many feel-good mo­ments both inside the class­room and with his par­ents, played by Ju­lia Roberts and Owen Wil­son.

Like the book, the script is filled with Star Wars ref­er­ences, so Trem­blay’s fan­boy ex­cite­ment went full-throt­tle when he learned Chew­bacca would ap­pear in the film.

“They had the ac­tual ac­tor in (the cos­tume) too, and that was su­per cool,” he says.

Trem­blay says he wouldn’t mind co-star­ring along­side Chew­bacca as a young

Jedi in one of Dis­ney’s Star Wars films, in case stu­dio ex­ec­u­tives are won­der­ing. He’s al­ready writ­ten a script based in the Star Wars uni­verse, though he ad­mits it was mostly for fun.

“I want to be a di­rec­tor, pro­ducer and a writer. And an ac­tor,” he says. “So like, all the things in act­ing, ba­si­cally.”

He’s also look­ing ahead to his 16th birth­day, when he can fi­nally get a driver’s li­cence. He re­cently started brows­ing the In­ter­net and came across a fa­mous black car that he thinks would look great in his garage.

“KITT,” Trem­blay says.

“You know, KITT from Knight Rider? David Has­sel­hoff?” he asks. “I was just look­ing up stuff from the ’80s.” Won­der hits the­atres on Fri­day.

Ja­cob Trem­blay (top and far left) stars op­po­site Ju­lia Roberts in Won­der, about a boy with a rare fa­cial de­for­mity.

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