The in­die child star who loves play­ing odd­balls

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

He isn't quite a house­hold name yet but, at the age of 19, child star-turned-teen heart­throb Asa But­ter­field has built up a re­sume a Hol­ly­wood vet­eran would envy. The Bri­tish ac­tor has worked with Martin Scors­ese and Tim Bur­ton, star­ring along­side some of cinema's big­gest names, in­clud­ing Sa­muel L. Jack­son, Ben Kings­ley, Emily Blunt and An­thony Hop­kins. "I've never re­ally got­ten starstruck," he tells AFP ahead of the re­lease of his lat­est project, sci-fi fan­tasy "The Space Be­tween Us," co-star­ring Gary Old­man. "I've been very lucky to work with the peo­ple I have, but as an ac­tor you need to be on a level play­ing field. Ev­ery ac­tor I've worked with has been great at mak­ing me feel com­fort­able on set." But­ter­field be­gan act­ing at age eight, after a cast­ing di­rec­tor saw him at his after-school drama club in north Lon­don. The movie that made Hol­ly­wood sit up and pay at­ten­tion, 2008 Holo­caust drama "The Boy in the Striped Py­ja­mas," earned But­ter­field a Bri­tish Independent Film Award nom­i­na­tion.

"Hugo," Martin Scors­ese's 2011 love let­ter to the film in­dus­try, proved to be his big break, with his own lead per­for­mance earn­ing him a Crit­ics' Choice Award nom­i­na­tion for best young ac­tor. He has since trans­formed him­self into a poster boy for young adult drama through such films as 2013's "En­der's Game," where he played the tit­u­lar role along­side Har­ri­son Ford.

Dream come true

This year has seen him cast as the re­luc­tant young hero of "Miss Pere­grine's Home for Pe­cu­liar Chil­dren," a per­for­mance which moved di­rec­tor Tim Bur­ton to praise But­ter­field's "spe­cial kind of sen­si­tiv­ity." For the young Lon­don-based ac­tor, work­ing with the leg­endary di­rec­tor was the ful­fill­ment of a ca­reer-long dream. "When peo­ple asked me which di­rec­tor do you want to work with, I'd say Tim Bur­ton. It's lovely hav­ing him wel­come you some­what into his imag­i­na­tion and ideas, which al­ways blow you away," he says. "He is al­ways very spon­ta­neous. The way he works is very chaotic and you have to be on your toes."

Next up is "The Space Be­tween Us," in which But­ter­field plays Gard­ner El­liot, the first boy born on Mars who vis­its Earth for the first time at the age of 16, re­leased in the US on De­cem­ber 16. But­ter­field and co-star Carla Gug­ino ("San An­dreas," "Bat­man v Su­per­man") spent two weeks walk­ing with weights on their an­kles to get used to how a Mars res­i­dent might cope in the more tir­ing grav­ity of Earth. The char­ac­ter is like many But­ter­field has taken on-an aban­doned or or­phaned child, an odd­ball who must ne­go­ti­ate a world he barely un­der­stands. "I'm al­ways try­ing to find roles which are orig­i­nal in one way or an­other, and sto­ries which are orig­i­nal," he tells AFP. "I never re­ally play the kid who's got the per­fect life. Usu­ally he's miss­ing a par­ent or two." Like the young ac­tors in the "Harry Pot­ter" films, But­ter­field has done his grow­ing up in front of the cam­era but this in­die child star has never been a rec­og­niz­able celebrity. His more high-pro­file re­cent roles are be­gin­ning to change that as he enters adult­hood, but he has his feet on the ground, and says he is more likely to be pho­tographed cycling in Lon­don than cruis­ing Bev­erly Hills in a Porsche.

"It hasn't re­ally changed my life," he says of his ca­reer so far, be­fore cor­rect­ing him­self. "Well, I sup­pose it has changed my life but I don't let it dic­tate my life." This month But­ter­field be­gan film­ing World War I drama "Jour­ney's End," and there have been per­sis­tent ru­mors of su­per­hero movies, al­though it's not a genre that par­tic­u­larly in­ter­ests him. "I want to carry on act­ing. It's not the only thing I want to do though," he says. "I want to film wildlife doc­u­men­taries up the Ama­zon or some­where, be­hind the cam­era."

Orig­i­nal roles

Asa But­ter­field

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.