Covering Atlanta's booming entertainment community means all sorts of neat interview situations. I talked to Paul Rudd at Pinewood Studios' new Fayette County facility when "Ant-Man" was filming there and got a few moments with Billy Crystal when his movie "Parental Guidance" was shooting a fun skateboarding scene in Piedmont Park.
Just the other day I talked to Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson and author Nicholas Sparks at Chastain Horse Park, where publicists arranged for interviews about the bull riding themed "The Longest Ride."
But none of these encounters were half as charming as my interview with young actor Owen Vaccaro, which took place in the library at Holy Innocents Episcopal School, where he is in third grade. Several of his classmates high-fived him before we repaired to our official interview location - a reading nook outfitted with cozy, oversized teddy bears.
"All the teachers are really nice. A lot of nice people go here," Owen said, setting the record straight right away.
He became interested in acting after performing in a play in the first grade, and started pursuing it with the help of an agent. After landing roles in indies "The Product of Me" and "Rom," he'll be seen in the feature film "Daddy's Home," a comedy with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, this summer.
The movie, which filmed this past winter in Louisiana, is about the hijinks that can ensue when grown-ups get divorced and remarried. Owen plays one of the kids caught up in the middle.
"Two dads - Mark and Will - they are fighting over Linda (Cardellini), that’s the mom, and they’re also arguing over the kids. It’s hard to compete with Mark Wahlberg because he’s all cool and he has a motorcycle," Owen said by way of a film teaser.
Off-set, he enjoyed getting to know all the big-time actors.
"Will Ferrell is really, really funny! Mark Wahlberg is very friendly. If you walk up to him he’s easy to talk to," he said.
Remembering his lines wasn't too hard. What was sort of a challenge was making sure to keep all the items on the set in the exact same place at all times, so that the background of each camera angle would line up.
"They call it continuity," Owen explained.
He kept up with schoolwork with the help of an on-set tutor during the filming. Now that he's back at Holy Innocents he's enjoyed getting back to his favorite subjects, art, science and P.E., as well as being back with his friends, teachers and siblings again.
His mom, Allison Vaccaro, was with Owen while he was filming. While that was fun, it was hard to be away from her husband and two other kids, Tatum and Reid, she said.
The family's getting excited as the release date approaches.
"It's getting real," Allison said.
Given all the filming activity in Atlanta, Owen said he'd consider auditioning for roles in projects shooting close to home.
"I kind of want to do a Harry Potter-like movie," he said. "It would be fun to do all the wizarding. I know it’s all cameras but it would still be fun. Or either a smarty pants role or someone clumsy. That would be funny!"
For now he's excited to see "Daddy's Home" this summer and looking forward to reconnecting with his on-set colleagues including Scarlett Estevez, who plays his on-screen sibling.
"I'm really excited to see everyone again," he said.
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