by Jason Whyte
Jenna and Cayden Boyd, with their dog Tippy
One of the perks of being a film critic and writer is to have the opportunity to go behind the scenes of making a movie and get to talk the talk with the people involved with the making of their film. Whether that chance comes up at a film festival, a movie set invite, a (shudder) press junket or even a phone interview with an actor from LA, New York or Toronto, you take that chance because part of the magic of movies is getting to find out what makes that magic work.
Jenna Boyd has pretty much grown up with my writing; she as a young actress getting her start and I beginning in 2003 as a writer for efilmcritic.com (and in 2004 for Cut and Print magazine) and she was there to talk with me right as I was getting my start with writing for the amazing website. (I know what youíre thinking; ďA 12 year old kid?Ē Stranger things have happened.) Since then, I have talked with many people in the industry of all ages and backgrounds, from filmmakers to actors to producers from all over this continent. But until now, I have not had the chance to actually revisit an actor and find out how they have progressed in this industry Ėand also get to talk to one of their siblings, who is also having success in the business.
In 2003, Jenna Boyd made attention with the release of two films in Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star which found a sizeable audience on DVD (and, as Jenna once told me, it spawned a lot of people walking up to her in public and doing her infamous ďBrick Wall, WaterfallĒ chant), and The Missing, where her performance at the age of 10 has etched a permanent spot in my memory as one of the best child performances in years. The performance even sparked Oscar consideration (which was covered in a great article by Entertainment Insiderís Rusty White which you can check out HERE. I spoke with Jenna in early 2004 (You can read the interview HERE) right after the release of The Missing had calmed down, and she was about to start filming her notable supporting role as Bailey in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, based on the Ann Brashares novel about four girls who stay connected while apart for one summer by a special pair of jeans. In the film, which opens on June 1st, her light-hearted Bailey becomes the best friend to Amber Tamblynís sullen character Tibby and the two of them forge a strong bond. Despite Jennaís combination acting, professional skating and school, she is still a down-to-earth kid who is enormously likeable and has a definite future in this industry.
Cayden Boyd, meanwhile, is also an up-and-coming actor who has done memorable work in the past. He garnered attention in 2003 playing Tim Robbinsí son Michael in Clint Eastwoodís Mystic River as well as making an impression on various TV shows such as Scrubs, Cold Case and Crossing Jordan. If you were a fan of Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Cayden played Billy in the black-and-white 1950ís instructional video. On June 10th, merely a week after Sisterhood opens, Cayden is playing the lead of Max in Robert Rodriguezí new film The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D which comes right off the heels of Rodriguezí other 2005 film Sin City. Like his bigger sister, Cayden keeps busy with frequent acting jobs, school and time with his friends, and is bound to have major success in the future.
I had the opportunity to speak with both Jenna and Cayden from their home in Los Angeles about their new movies and where their lives have been leading them so far in the Ďol showbiz.
Jason Whyte: Now Jenna, last time we talked, you told me that Finding Nemo is your favourite movie. Is it still?
Jenna Boyd: I think I like The Incredibles more now. That was such a good movie, really funny.
(Cayden then picks up phone)
Jason: Hey Cayden, there you areÖ
Cayden Boyd: Hey, from Canada, eh?
Jason: (laughs) Yeah. Now what would you say is your favourite movie that youíve seen?
Cayden: My favourite movie of all time is either A Few Good Men or The Incredibles, like Jenna said. And I like Top Gun too.
Jason: Now Jenna, last I heard from you, you were doing well on your skating. How have you been keeping up with that?]
Jenna: Itís coming along really well. Iíve gotten a WHOLE lot better since I last talked to you. Iím almost to the end of my double jumps and Iíve been pretty consistent with it. Itís getting really hard now. But Iím still loviní it.
Jason: I also understand that you are taking guitar lessons right now. How is that going for you?
Jenna: I havenít taken any lessons yet, but the [guitar] company has learning books and CDís that I copy from and listen to that help you learn how to play several songs.
Jason: Now Cayden, you recently had your 11th birthday (on May 24th). How did you celebrate?
Cayden: Well, for my [upcoming] birthday party weíre planning to go paintballing!
Jason: Interesting! A violent game I remember, but that sounds like a lot of fun.
Cayden: Yeah, but weíre going to be wearing the pads so youíll know if you got hit, but it will be safe.
Jason: Now Jenna, are you going paintballing too?
Cayden: No no, sheís not going. (laughs)
Jenna: (Boldly) NO. Iím kind of scared. I donít want to get hit. Iíd probably be the only girl out there.
Jason: It can be a violent, violent game.
Jenna: It IS a violent game! Gosh, and Iím sure all the guys, I bet you anything, would gang up on me, because Iím the girl, and they would start shooting me. Thatís just so mean. (laughs) But no, Iíll just sit there and wait with my mom.
Jason: I remember thatís what I did when I was younger, always ganged up on the girls. Just my way of showing that I liked them.
Jenna: (laughs) That is so mean!
Cayden: (laughs) That is so funny.
Jason: Now Jenna, I do want to ask you about The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, which I have yet to see, and we did talk about it briefly when we met last year, but in your own words Iím curious as to how you came to being in this movie and getting the part of Bailey?
Jenna: Audition warm-ups. Itís a real long process with auditions. I remember I went to the director audition and I guess a month later they called me and said that I had the part of Bailey. I was SO excited, because I had read the books and I had REALLY loved it and was excited that I got the chance to play Bailey.
Jason: You shot most of the film in Vancouver where you had never made a movie before (Last year we did talk about shooting a movie in Canada and Jenna remarked that she wanted to film a movie up here where ďAll the snow is!Ē which is pretty far from the truth). Tell me your experiences on shooting a movie in a new city, and for the first time up here in Canada.
Jenna: We were up there for about four weeks and I had a lot of time off in-between takes and shooting scenes, so I just relaxed a lot and we would go shopping around the hotel and things like that. But in-between takes; you really donít do a whole lot. You either go to school for your three hours, or you just WAIT and get makeup or wardrobe done. But I also had time off, so we just hung around Vancouver shopping and touring.
Jason: You had a majority of your scenes with Amber Tamblyn (who plays one of the four lead girls in the cast). How involved were you with Amber on set?
Jenna: She was a LOT of fun to be around. Sheís a real fun girl. She always saying something sarcastic or funny and it was a real pleasure. We got to become real good friends.
Jason: Iíve been watching some of the interviews for the promotion of the movie, and Amber was on Conan OíBrien last week talking about guys going out to see ďSisterhoodĒ and she had a really funny joke where she said ďGuys, if you donít come out of this movie crying, Iíll give you one hundred dollars. $100 dollars and a date with me.Ē
Jenna: (laughing out loud) Thatís Amber for you.
Jason: I might take her up on that actually. I donít ever cry during movies unless itís Million Dollar Baby or E.T..
Jason: Now your director, Ken Kwapis (who directed several episodes of Freaks and Geeks, one of my all time favourite TV shows) described you as someone who likes to connect to people, that Bailey opens the door to Tibbyís character where she is constantly closing it. How close is this to your own personality?
Jenna: Bailey is a real mature girl for her age. And thatís what a lot of people have said about me, that Iím mature for my age. But I wonít just walk up to somebody and want to be friends; I have to get to know the person first. So Bailey and I have our similarities and differences.
Jason: You also had some real emotional scenes at the end with your character. Like your amazing scene in The Missing, how do you prepare for such things like that? Where do you go?
Jenna: I have to just REALLY focus and not talk to anybody for the whole day. I just have to sit around by myself, read my lines and focus. And then when itís time to film the scene, I really have to picture myself as this character and going through what sheís going through. I have a dog, and my mom helped me get into the mood by saying ďJust think of looking at Tippy for the last timeĒ, and all of that stuff helped.
Jason: What was your greatest memory of making Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants?[/br]
Jenna: OH man, thereís so much but I really canít think of one. Spending time with Amber and some of the other cast, although I wasnít in much with them, but thereís just so much that I canít put into words.
Jason: Now Cayden, letís focus on you and your movie The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D. How did you come to being in this movie?
Cayden: We went and auditioned, and Robert Rodriguez was there along with Monica, the script supervisor. So I then went in and did my thing, and it appeared that Robert was kind of a very mellow guy. When I was finished he was like, ďOkay, thatís good. Bye!Ē (laughs) and so I was thinking (beat) ďOhÖokay!Ē. So I left the audition, received a callback and the same thing happened when I auditioned again. And I thought that maybe I didnít do a good job and I was initially bummed out. But then they booked me and I learned that Robert must be very very mellow.
Jason: Now this is your first lead in a motion picture. How long of a process was isit compared to the other parts that you have done?
Cayden: Well, on both Mystic River and Dodgeball it was about a week we had to film. On Shark Boy and Lava Girl it was about three months.
Jason: You said that Robert was very mellow in auditions, but this guy is so quick and determined -- as shown on his many DVD documentaries -- on how elaborate his movies are and how fast he makes them. How difficult was it working with Robert?
Cayden: Itís just like working a humongous kid. I mean he gets respect, but heís the kind of guy that plays Halo 2 and XBOX in-between takes. (laughs) He also draws up superheroes and hangs out with his kids a lot. Heís just like a big giant kid.
Jason: You worked with a lot of visual effects in this movie, especially involving blue screen, high definition and 3-D. How did Robert get you involved with making this movie using his techniques?
Cayden: Usually, Robert would give us the basic idea or show us a computer image of what would finally appear on screen so we would know how to act and react to the filming. We would usually then get an idea and go from there.
Jason: The lead actor who plays Shark Boy, Taylor Lautner, is getting a lot of attention for his work in the film, and he seems like an interesting guy to work with.
Cayden: Yeah, that Taylor, heís a stud. He IS Shark Boy. He can do stunts and backflips and things like that. Heís cool to hang out to hang out with and really nice.
Jason: Now what was your favourite experience working on the movie?
Cayden: My favourite part in making the movie was probably when we had to start training for all of our stunts with Jeffrey J. Dashnaw, who was the most wonderful stunt coordinator that I have ever worked with. He worked really close with us just to make the stunt work just a bit better. Just awesome, especially with kids.
Jason: Now you both have films opening within a week of each other, which has no doubt made your lives busier than normal.
Jenna: Yeah, itís definitely very, very crazy. Itís crazy enough when one of us has a movie opening, but itís double the crazy when both of us are so close.
Cayden: Yeah, itís been interviews, interviews, interviewsÖ.every single day. Pretty much.
Jason: Oh but those arenít so bad!
Cayden: Oh, not at all. (laughs)
Jason: How do you guys cope with all of this? Youíre going to school; premieres, press stuff and both of you arenít even 13 years old yet!
Jenna: Itís definitely balanced, and our parents will not it get to the point where we are going to have to miss a whole lot of school. Itís very important to have a normal life, to be as normal as we can be.
Jason: With these new movies coming out and the attention they are getting, are you being recognized more in public?
Jenna: Since the movies havenít come out, we really havenít been recognized in public much, but every once in a while Iíll get ďHey, are you the girl from Dickie RobertsĒ or ďHey, are you the girl from The MissingĒ which is kind of neat because it doesnít happen a whole lot, so itís good as long as itís not too much.
Jason: And when they do meet you do they do that improvised chant you do from Dickie Robertsó
Jenna: Some of them DO and itís kind of weird. Itís like ďWhoa!Ē but still really funny.
Jason: You guys have been working with so many amazing actors and filmmakers. Is there anyone left in the industry that you desire to work with and havenít yet?
Cayden: I have always wanted to work with Morgan Freeman, Tom Cruise or Jack Nicholson.
Jenna: I think it would be really cool to work with Julia Roberts too. I havenít done a movie with Dakota Fanning, although weíve known her for a while now since doing auditions together so it would be fun to do a movie with her.
Jason: What are some of the biggest pressures that both of you have faced in this industry?
Jenna: Itís definitely hard not getting to see my friends when weíre really busy, because if they ask me to come along with them for something I have to tell them that I canít because Iím busy with the movie coming out or whatever. Thatís definitely hard, and I make a lot of sacrifices also for ice skating too because if I have a movie to shoot then Iím not going to be able to go to any competition during that time. So itís definitely hard with all of the sacrifices we make.
Cayden: Once you start becoming an actor, you are definitely going to have to start making some sacrifices because if you want to go hang out at someoneís birthday party or hang out at home, and you have an audition, then that kind of interferes with things. So you have to be willing to do that.
Jason: Now although you have these movies coming out, do you have anything upcoming projects?
Jenna: I really do not have anything going on right now. Well, we always have auditions and what not, but nothing concrete for me at the moment.
Cayden: Iím going to be shooting a movie this summer called A West Texas Childrenís Story and itís about this kid who has this kind of sad life and his parentís donít pay attention to him. Heís a real lonely kid. Then this girl (played by AnnaSophia Robb from the upcoming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) kind of winds up at his doorstep from a car accident and they become soul mates and run away together.
Jason: What do you both love the most about acting?
Jenna: I really love getting to go around and meet a bunch of people and being able to travel to different places, but most of all, I loveÖ.there are days when I really donít want to be on the set because I donít feel good, but I work hard, and the best part about it is seeing it all pay off.
Cayden: And the thing is, I just LOVE to travel. You could be making a movie in the middle of the jungle in Africa or you could be in the middle of a huge city, and itís just so cool going to all different places. And I like meeting all of the different people on the set as well. I also like how the movie pays off with everybodyís hard work up there on the screen.
Special thanks to Jenna and Cayden Boyd for a wonderful interview, as well to Debbie Boyd and Ben Laurro from Pure Publicity for setting up this interview. This is another chapter in a series of interviews where an actor, be it little-seen, up-and-coming or overlooked, is interviewed for our website. Comments about this article are encouraged and can be directed to Jason at email@example.com.
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1495
originally posted: 06/01/05 17:18:00
last updated: 06/01/05 18:40:52