Daily Aztec: How did you get your start in acting?
Freddie Highmore: I started off doing a few small things, really, just one day now and then in England, but it was nothing really very serious, I guess. Then the first big thing I did was “Finding Neverland.” So that was the first — the big break, I guess, that I got working in that and I was lucky to be a part of it.
DA: Can you speak on some of your influences as a young actor?
FH: I’ve never had sort of one person who I’ve aimed to follow, in acting or no particular hero in that way. The people that I’ve worked with I’ve been really inspired by and learned a lot from them. Johnny Depp was absolutely fantastic to work with on two occasions and that — I felt we got on very well. It wasn’t just a sort of appreciation of his acting, so I wouldn’t say that there’s one person in particular, but Johnny was definitely a great guy to work with and get to know.
DA: Is it intimidating working with really big stars such as Depp and Robin Williams at such a young age?
FH: I never really felt too intimidated by it, to be honest with you. Obviously, you think they’re fantastic actors and they’re brilliant at what they do, but at the same time, it was always a case of realizing how normal they are and how down to earth they can be; that actually they don’t even think of themselves as better than anyone else. They realize that we’re all the same, really, and they’ve got a special talent for making films or for whatever great thing that they’ve done.
DA: After “Finding Neverland” you were nominated for several prestigious awards. At such a young age, how did you adapt to the excitement and immense pressure?
FH: I guess it was incredibly exciting that “Finding Neverland” did so well, but at the same time, I feel that I’ve always had a certain detachment that’s been great from movies. I’ve always stayed in London and my family and my friends especially, they’re not really connected with the sort of crazy things that sometimes go on over here. So it’s always been nice to have that more real and stabilizing place to go back to … It was incredibly exciting and great that people loved the film, but at the same time, it wasn’t something that would send me off in the wrong direction.
DA: Can you tell us anything about your new movie “The Art of Getting By?”
FH: It’s going to come out mid-June in America. That should be exciting. I’m excited about it. It was great and fun to film and I think it offers a sort of fresh take on the experience of growing up and those last few moments perhaps of high school. That’s what makes it stand out to me, anyway, the sort of real outlook it gives on that special moment in life.
DA: What was the process of working on a smaller, more independent film, as opposed to something more commercially based, like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” or “Spiderwick Chronicles”?
FH: It was great fun to do “The Art of Getting By” in that way and having it, less controlled in some ways. You could go onto the set and everyone there can make the decisions and if you want to change something, then yes, you change it and see what happens. Perhaps there was a little more freedom in doing an independent film. Also, just the general atmosphere on the set I think is easier to become quite a close-knit family when there are fewer people. It’s really exciting to go in every day knowing that you’ve got a lot to do, but at the same time, everyone’s on the same page and everyone wants the film to be as good as possible. So, that’s really quite energizing, I guess.
DA: How was your character in “The Art of Getting By” a departure from those previous roles you had when you were younger?
FH: George is obviously older than other characters I’ve played and I think that’s important. As you grow up, obviously you’re going to be playing characters more your own age and it’s just important to carry on doing that and not get too stuck as well in doing a certain type of character. It’s not just dependent on the age, but also it would get pretty boring after a while for you and for me, I guess, if you just saw every character being exactly the same person.
DA: Could you personally relate to this character?
FH: Yes, I think that’s one of the great things about the film, actually. I think that was a real key for me in doing the film, something that actually reflects how people at this point in their life actually feel and the situations they’re actually in. Sometimes in a lot of coming-to-the-end-of-high-school films, it can be quite stylized and heightened … As I think with this film, it’s something that’s really real and accessible, and people will be able to find a lot of themselves and a lot of their experiences in the characters and in the general storyline.
DA: Is there a role or a movie that you’re most proud of in your career?
FH: It’s tricky. No, it’s hard to say one film that I’m particularly proud of. I’d say that as a general film, “Finding Neverland” was great and I guess since that’s the one that really got me started in acting, it might have been the most important in some ways. But, no, I think what’s been great about every film that I’ve done is I’ve managed to play different characters in different situations and all of the experiences have been really new. So, it’s hard to sort of single out one as being better because they’ve all been so different and varied in great ways.
DA: I read somewhere that you are not planning to continue acting as an adult. Is that true and has that changed?
FH: No, people always seem to say this, “you’ve decided to stop.” I guess what I probably had said was I’m not completely set on doing it for sure. It’s not something that I ever saw as a job, I guess, because I enjoyed it so much and it was never something that I had to do when I was younger. So, I think it’s just been great to have been able to keep my options open and now go off to college and see what happens with that, but … for the time being, I’d love to continue and carry on.