At only thirteen years of age, Toronto-born Dakota Goyo has already worked with the likes of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and director Darren Aranofsky. Not bad for someone barely a teenager. But Goyo has been appearing on screen since he was two-weeks old, when he appeared in a Canadian Blood Services commercial, and he's been appearing on the big screen since 2007's Resurrecting the Champ.
Now he's voicing a character in his first animated feature, DreamWorks Animation's Rise of the Guardians -- which opens November 20th across North America -- appearing alongside the likes of Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, and his Reel Steel co-star Hugh Jackman. And with the highly-anticipated Aranofsky epic, Noah, coming out in about a year, Goyo's profile is only going to continue to rise as the young actor heads towards more grown-up roles.
I got the chance to speak with Dakota Goyo about Rise of the Guardians, the process of recording for an animated film, and what actors he might want to work with in the future.
Mark McLeod: Rise of the Guardians is based on a series of books, "The Guardians of Childhood". How familiar with the books were you before you accepted the role?
Dakota Goyo: Not at all before I accepted the role. But while I was (working on the film), I read "The Man in the Moon", and that's where all the Guardians start, and where he chooses them.
MM: You worked with Hugh Jackman in Real Steel. Did you get a chance to work with him at all again while recording your part for this movie?
DG: No, I didn't get to work with any of the actors on this project. I'd look forward to meeting them.
MM: So have you met them now? Have you met any of them yet?
MM: Well I guess in animation that happens a lot. Sometimes they put everyone together in the booth, and other times it's all separate.
DG: If you're lucky, you get to be in the same studio with them.
MM: So when did you become involved in the project?
DG: Two years ago, actually.
MM: Did you record your part that long ago?
DG: No, I've been recording all the way since, and my voice has been changing through this two-year time period. And they'd be, like, "Too deep, too deep." So then I'd have to make my voice higher-pitched.
MM: While you didn't get to work directly with any of the voice actors in Rise of the Guardians, you have worked with big names before: Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Jackman, and of course in the upcoming Noah, Anthony Hopkins and Russell Crowe. Who is someone you're most looking forward to working with in the future?
DG: I think Leonardo DiCaprio or Will Smith, because in their movies they bring so much emotion, and you feel what they're feeling. Or Bradley Cooper, he's amazing, too.
MM: Bradley Cooper's really good in his new movie, Silver Linings Playbook, although it might be a little too adult-themed for you.
DG: Well, I've seen Inception, so maybe.
MM: What do you look for when taking a role?
DG: I look for some action, and some of my own stunts, but I also look for mystery, like (TV show) Lost-style mysterious.
MM: There have been some concerns from parents when they saw the trailer for Rise of the Guardians that it may be too intense for younger kids. What can you say to parents who might be on the fence about taking their kids to see this movie.
DG: I'd tell them, trust me, it's not nowhere near too intense for their kids. There is Pitch Black, the boogeyman, who is scary. But there are five Guardians and only one Boogeyman, so you get to see so many more bright colours. It's for children.
MM: Do you have a favourite character in the movie, other than yourself?
DG: To be honest, it wouldn't even be myself if I had a choice. It would be Sandman. Very, very cool. He talks through the sand, and he couldn't speak. I thought that was an amazing idea.
MM: Did you like the process of working on an animated film versus live action? Or was it just something different for you?
DG: Yeah, I loved the process. I like how it's so much shorter, and you get to do things with your facial expressions to get that voice out. And you can go to work any way you want to look like.
MM: You recently worked with Darren Aranofsky on Noah, obviously a very highly-anticipated movie. What was the experience working on that?
DG: It was a great experience. I filmed in Iceland, which I never thought I'd ever be able to go to -- I never even thought about the place -- and getting to go there was an amazing experience. It's just so beautiful, the landscapes.
MM: You're still quite young, but have you had a favourite animated movie growing up?
DG: Wow, that's hard. I really liked Up. And then Monster House, which was actually really scary for animation.
MM: Is acting something you want to keep doing moving forward? Is there another area of the industry you'd be interested in?
DG: I'm taking it as it goes. I don't think there's any rush -- I'm still young, I'm still a kid. I'd love to continue acting, although directing would be nice (in the future) as a bit of a change.
Mark McLeod has always loved film. In addition to his roles with ShowbizMonkeys.com, Mark also works on many film promotion projects in Vancouver, BC, through his company, Mark McLeod PR.