Printer Friendly

Goblin-fighter Freddie has twice the fun as his own co-star; Alison Jones hears why Freddie Highmore is content to carry on juggling schoolwork with stardom.

Byline: Alison Jones

It seems only a few moments ago that a dewy-eyed Freddie Highmore reduced Johnny Depp and cinema audiences to a quivering mass of sympathy as an Edwardian orphan in Finding Neverland.

Now the same Freddie is discussing his preference for watching French films because it helps him with his GCSE revision.

How quickly these child stars grow up.

From the time he was 10, Freddie, who has just turned 16, has been the British answer to Hayley Joel Osment. Snub nosed, wide eyed and capable of conveying emotional depth far beyond his years.

Although 19-year-Haley careered slightly off the rails as he entered the college years, being charged with a DUI after hitting a mailbox, Freddie seems made of more sensible stuff.

The star of one of the best children's film to be released this Easter, The Spiderwick Chronicles, he has had an impressive run of hits, but isn't sure yet whether it's necessarily something he wants to commit to for the rest of his life.

"At the moment acting is great I am really happy doing it. I know it has been an amazing opportunity and great experience, if it continues like this then I would like it as career.

"But I also think it is important to keep your options open, to still keep going at school and do A-levels, maybe university. If you wake up one day and think 'I'd like to try something else' or want to go and do medicine it would be a shame to have set everything on acting."

The son of the actor Edward Highmore, who starred in Howard's Way, and the talent agent Sue Latimer, whose clients include Daniel Radcliffe, it seemed inevitable that young Alfred Thomas Highmore would be drawn to the stage or screen.

It was as one of the family of young boys who inspired JM Barrrie to write Peter Pan, that Freddie had his real career breakthtrough.

He so impressed co-star Johnny Depp that he recommended him to play Charlie Bucket to his Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Freddie went on to play a musical prodigy in August Rush, for which he had to adopt an American accent.

He has one again for Spiderwick as he tackles what is probably his most demanding role yet, playing physically identically but emotionally disparate twins, Simon and Jared.

"Originally they were trying to get real twins to do it," says Freddie. "I think it would have been a lot easier logistically because I couldn't be in two places at the same time.

"The twins had to look different, even though they are both me. We had got the (costume) changes down to Ferrari pit stop time in the end, in the tent, come out as the other character and shoot the reverse "We had to rehearse a lot beforehand and sometimes it went wrong, it looked llike I was walking into myself when we played the two next to each other, but it was great fun to do."

Based on the books by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi's. Spiderwick is a thrilling fantasy story about trouble magnet twin, Jared, who reads a field guide to the faerie world and brings down the barriers between it and the world of humans.

Soon Jared, his quieter sibling Simon, their sister and even their mother are fending off monsters and a shape-shifting ogre who wants to get his hands on the guide.

As well as having to avoid bumping into himself, Freddie also had to make his interaction with the goblins, hobgoblins and brownies, look convincing.

"They showed us animations of what they'd look like and they had recorded the voiceover artists beforehand which they'd play over the loud speaker so we had something to react to," he explains.

"It is tricky acting when the pink cross is meant to be my other self and Hogsqueal (a hobgoblin) is the blue ping pong ball. It gets kind of confusing.

"When Simon gets tripped up and dragged off into the forest by the goblins they attached various poles to parts of my body and there were lots of men dressed in black, who got edited out, dragging me along. We tried to do it a bit realistically so it wasn't just me wriggling around."

The action is set on an old New England estate but it was mostly shot on location in Canada.

"Montreal was pretty cold but I got to practise my French," says the stoical Freddie.

"We went to buy boots and stuff for the trip and were told 'these only go down to minus 30 degrees'. We were thinking 'how cold does it get in Montreal in winter?'."

An on-set tutor ensured Freddie kept up with the school syllabus and the teenager says he likes to live as ordinarily as possible, for an international film star.

"I keep in contact with my friends, I email and phone. I still think I am a normal guy.

"I realise it not so normal getting to fly around the world and make movies but apart from that," he adds with a smile.

"I talk more about other things with my friends, like how Arsenal are getting on."

But there aren't many 16-year-olds who are on first name terms with Johnny Depp.

"Johnny's a top guy really nice, he is very down to earth and normal and talks to everyone in the same way whether it is director or the caterer he treats them equally.

"There is this thing called the Make A Wish Foundation which gives terminally ill kids a last wish.

A few times on Charlie some of them came onto the set to meet him and he was always just great with them and really welcoming.

"I have been lucky to have spent time with him. He is not into football as much as I am so I will have to work on that."

The Spiderwick Chronicles is on general release now


Freddie Highmore plays both Jared and Simon Grace while Sarah Bolger is their (his) fencing mad sister Mallory
COPYRIGHT 2008 Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 20, 2008
Previous Article:Culture: Happy accident results in a fine collaboration; Composer Kevin Volans talks to Terry Grimley about an unusual art and music collaboration at...
Next Article:Quiz of the Day.

Related Articles
AT THE MOVIES: ELFY FUN; FILM OF THE WEEK Spiderwick world works its magic on Potter fans THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES (PG, 96mins).
A web of fantasy; Cinema.
culture: Rollicking fairytale is pure kids' stuff; ADVENTURE.
Freddie's twin peek; Review: The Spiderwick Chronicles.
Cinema: Monster mash-up; THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES (PG) ***.
Rich realm of fantasy; cinema.
The fear factor; The Spiderwick Chronicles (PG) Fantasy is brought to life in dazzling Spiderwick tale At the Movies.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters