Jacob Tremblay gave himself a hard act to follow. His debut as Jack, the son of a captive young woman in Room, earned him a Critics Choice Movie Award, a Canadian Screen Award and a Screen Actors Guild nomination.
The next chapter in the life of the now 11-year-old is the role of Auggie Pullman, a boy with a facial deformity who’s trying to fit in at school, in the film adaptation of the R.J. Palacio best-seller Wonder. He plays opposite Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as his parents.
Original-Cin’s Bonnie Laufer sat down for a few minutes with the Vancouver-born Tremblay to talk about bullying, Star Wars and coffee. The following is an edited excerpt. The interview can be seen in its entirety on the link below.
ORIGINAL-CIN: I read this book and I was a sobbing mess – not because I was sad, but because I was so moved. What was your reaction when you read this book?
JACOB TREMBLAY: “There were parts in the book where it made my mom cry, and I was like, ‘Mom, stop! It’s just a book.’ But yeah, there were some parts in the book that made me sad, because of what Auggie was going through. I usually don’t cry in my movies and stuff. I usually don’t cry a lot.”
OC: It’s such an emotional story. There’s a lot going on here. I’m wondering how you related to it. Aside from loving Star Wars, what did you guys have in common?
TREMBLAY: “I’m very short for my age, so we have that in common. I do relate to Auggie because of Star Wars, but I can’t say that, because… “ (There's a major Star Wars reference/potential spoiler)
OC: Okay, I was teasing you. You also got to act with some pretty good actors in this movie. Julia Roberts is phenomenal.
TREMBLAY: “Yeah, it was really fun working with her. She’s really funny and she’s a really nice actor. She’s really good. So I learned so much from her just watching her act.”
OC: I think you called her The Queen Bee of acting.
TREMBLAY: “I did. She is!”
OC: And Owen Wilson. How did you keep from laughing?
TREMBLAY: “He was so funny. We couldn’t (film) any scene if he (decided he) wanted to be funny.”
OC: To me watching you as Augie was like watching somebody completely normal. You made him come off as such a wonderful young man. At the end of the day you had to sit in a makeup chair for a while. How was that for you?
TREMBLAY: “It was okay. I didn’t die. It was itchy sometimes, but sometimes I would even forget it was on my face. They’d put, like, this silicon mix on my face with like a paint brush. And when it dried, I had like a full model of my face so the prosthetic would fit on. And the process of putting it on was like two hours, but for some reason it turned into an hour and a half, and then taking if off was just a half hour.”
OC: This film was partly about peer pressure. How do
you feel about it when your friends are trying to get you to do something you really don’t want to do?
TREMBLAY: “I’ve done that before, especially at Vancouver's Playland with my cousin. He’d be like, ‘You have to do the Beast (a ride where a fatal accident occurred this year), you have to do this and that!’ And I’d be like, 'No, I don’t want to do it!' And I even promised at one point that I would. But then I was, like, ‘I feel like I’m gonna throw up.’ Then I was making excuses like, ‘My back hurts!’ and stuff like that.”
OC: What do you say to people who bully?
TREMBLAY: “Hopefully, this movie will teach bullies to choose “kind.” Instead of making someone’s day bad you should make it feel good. It’s really important because, at school, kids should feel safe instead of scared. So, they can learn and they can have a good future and maybe even inspire adults.”
TREMBLAY: “That was so much fun. Actually, there was some green screen. But most of it was actually a cool-looking set. I don’t want to spoil anything, but you had all these aliens that looked so realistic even without CGI.”
OC: Jacob, it’s a pleasure to talk to you again, and see you growing up and getting more and more mature. What’s your secret, how do you stay so mature?
TREMBLAY: “I don’t know. I just don’t drink coffee.”