Jackson Robert Scott is the scariest 10-year-old in America, courtesy of his portrayal of the demon-clown-possessed Georgie, Pennywise’s first child abductee in the movie It.
And the image gets sharper with his co-starring role in the supernatural horror thriller The Prodigy. The film, shot in Toronto, is about a mom (Taylor Schilling) whose child hosts the soul of a reincarnated serial killer.
On this day, while doing interviews with co-star Colm Feore, Scott is both happy and miffed, happy because he finally got “verified” on Instagram, and miffed at the “stupid imposters” that started fake accounts in his name. Stardom is like that.
In the movie, Feore plays a hypno-therapist who draws out the killer – a scene that is included in the trailer.
Ironically, Scott has yet to see the scene (and was only there for part of it) because of the graphic language. He was given a PG script to perform, with a similarly-voiced actress dubbing the raw stuff.
Original-Cin’s Jim Slotek sat with Scott and Feore to talk about evil kids and the horror experience.
ORIGINAL-CIN: Jackson, how is it being the most famous scary kid in America? Do you get recognized much?
JACKSON ROBERT SCOTT: “Once in a while on the street. There were very aggressive paparazzi in Toronto today.”
COLM FEORE: They were moderately aggressive. Two people braved the snows to follow us to two locations. And they were pretty prepared for you, Jackson, clutching copies of It and posters and what not.
SCOTT: ”I mean, I like the attention. But at the same time, I’ve got to go places.”
OC: In scenes like the hypnosis one you have together, are you aware of how scary the scene is?
SCOTT: “I don’t know. I’m the one being scary, so I really can’t tell if I’m being scary or not.”
FEORE: (To Scott) “That’s a very good point. When it comes to scary, it’s like the crowd makes the king. It’s in the eye of the beholder. It’s for me and the rest of us to see the frightening in you. You certainly did some scary stuff. We don’t know what to expect in that hypnotism scene, whether it will pan out. It turns out to be a deep well of weird.”
OC: What is it about horror movies with evil kids being more frightening than evil adults. I think about The Exorcist and The Omen.
SCOTT: ”The Shining had a scary adult.”
OC: But it also had those two creepy little girls.
SCOTT: “Hmm. You’re right. Why are kids used as horror figures?”
FEORE: “I suspect children hold all of our hopes and dreams, because they’re the future. But that means they also hold all our terrors and fears.”
OC: Very well put. Jackson, I’m going to say the scariest scene to me didn’t involve something jumping out. It was in the dark, when you dropped an F-bomb. Was that your voice?
SCOTT: “That actually was my voice. The hypnotism scene wasn’t my voice. But whatever, I don’t really have a problem with it.”
FEORE: “Cinema, theatre, television these can be very jaded, coarser worlds. And it’s very dangerous for young people. You don’t want them exposed to too much too soon. And I think the producer and director Nicholas McCarthy were sensitive to Jackson’s concerns and his parents’ concerns.”
OC: After they yelled cut on that heavy scene, did you laugh?
FEORE: “He laughed. I was busy trying to remember my lines.” (Turns to Jackson). “You’re very funny, and full of energy.”
SCOTT: “I thought you said I was annoying.”
FEORE: “I said it’s annoying that you’re so good, not that you’re annoying. The fact that you, at 10 years old, can do what I, at 60, can only dream of doing, because of your simplicity and straightforwardness. That I find annoying.”
OC: Jackson, it’s really impressive how you were able to go from an innocent little boy to a murderer in a little boy’s body, in, like, one second.
SCOTT: “Yeah, that’s very awesome. And intense.”
OC: How do you do it?
SCOTT: “I just go into a mojo of isolated darkness.”
FEORE: (Laughs) “And you thought he wouldn’t have an answer!”
OC: Now I’m scared.
FEORE: “Honestly, while we were there, you go in as a senior player. You think, ‘He’s 10. Part of my job is going to be to reassure him and support him.’ But he was so ready and skilled, just absolutely professional and slick - which is why when they said cut, he could mess around.”
OC: Jackson, millions of people have seen you in It. Has anything changed for you, with your friends?
SCOTT:“My friends still treat me the same way. They get that I’m in movies, but they don’t treat me differently, which is what I love about them. That’s what makes me me is they molded me the way I am today.
“They’re my best friends and my classmates. Half of my whole life is probably just with them at school. They like me as a friend and don’t treat me like I’m super famous. Older people though are like ‘Oh my God!’”
OC: Does Georgie return in It 2?
SCOTT: “I’m not allowed to say.”
OC: What are you doing next that you are allowed to talk about?
FEORE: “After he’s done here, he’s being chauffeured out to the next reading on his next project.”
SCOTT:“It’s a TV series on Netflix called Locke & Key. We’re starting a 10-episode series.”
OC: Are you accessing your dark side for it?
SCOTT: “No, this is more funny and less dark. I play a fun, happy character.”
OC: “Good, because you don’t want to be stereotyped at age 10.”
SCOTT:“No, I do not!”
THE PRODIGY: Review
By Jim Slotek
There’s a sense of familiarity to The Prodigy, the latest in a half-century of “evil child” stories going back to The Bad Seed, and including The Exorcist and The Omen. It’s still effective, given the chills we get from a sweet-faced kid saying or doing something horrible in the dark.
Still, familiar is familiar. And credit director Nicholas McCarthy (The Pact) for understanding the “beats” of horror that rely more on suspense than crude violence. The Prodigy is a basic scary story, effectively told.
And also credit angel-faced Jackson Robert Scott, age nine as this movie was filmed, whose eyes glint and hint at something more (a physical quality that also served him as the possessed Georgie in Stephen King’s It).
The movie opens with the escape of a maimed captive (Brittany Allen) from the rural home of a serial killer (Paul Fauteux), who is shot and killed by police. At that moment, a baby named Miles is born to Sarah Blume (Orange is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling). The juxtaposition obviously gives the audience knowledge not shared by Sarah and her husband John (Peter Mooney), who simply are delighted by what they feel is a gifted child, who begins to speak at age one.
Cue the pathologies, from the casual crushing of a spider, to the death of a dog and a brutal attack on a classmate. Oh, and there’s also those episodes of Miles speaking a foreign language in his sleep.
The buildup is better than the denouement, a maybe-too-quick acceptance by Sarah of her son’s nature (courtesy of a hypno-therapist played by Colm Feore), and an elaborate and specious attempt to figure out how to “de-haunt” him.
But Schilling brings great sensitivity to the conflicted mom, deeply loving the child that appears to her at one moment, and terrified by the entity that surfaces in the next.
The Prodigy. Directed by Nicholas McCarthy. Starring Jackson Robert Scott, Taylor Schilling and Colm Feore. Opens wide, Friday, February 8.