Who says kid actors can’t have normal childhoods? During a phone interview with Ryan Lee, the 15-year-old Super 8 star, he briefly interrupts our chat to act like a youngster. “I just saw a stray dog and I’m trying to catch him right now. What was your question again?”
I had just asked the Austin, Texas native about working with director J.J. Abrams, the megamind behind TV and movie hits like Lost and Star Trek.
“He’s just one of those guys who can really make you feel comfortable during a scene,” said Ryan. “He’s really good at what he does. He’s really hands on, down to earth and just an amazing director all round.”
Like all of Abrams’s projects the plot of Super 8 has been kept under wraps. Ryan plays one of six kids who witness a mysterious train wreck. “Then everything starts to go crazy,” he says, picking up the story. “Once we get away things start to go weird in the town, like people going missing, dogs going missing, home appliances going missing. Nothing can really be explained.”
Other than that he’s been sworn to secrecy. “Once I got the call back I had to sign confidentiality papers,” he says. “I had to bring them home to my family and they had to sign them, too. It was really secretive.”
So secretive he didn’t know what he was auditioning for when he first went out for the part.
“My agent sent me on the audition and I had no idea it was for J.J. or for Super 8,” he says. The audition was about a girl and a boy fighting about math homework. It had nothing to do with Super 8. Then at the first audition with him this girl next to me said, ‘J.J.’s waiting.” I said, ‘J.J. who?’ Her mouth dropped. I had no idea he was going to be working on this.”
Working with Abrams he says, was a breeze. “He never yells and with a group of six kids…” Ryan said. “Not yelling? How do you even do that?”
There’s a great buzz around Super 8 right now, even Ryan feels it—“I want to see the movie so bad, just like everybody else,” he says—but right now in the days before the movie opens it’s back to being a kid and catching that dog.
“I’m trying,” he says. “He’s fast.”