Sunday, December 09, 2007

Stars of Tomorrow

There's a bittersweet article in today's Independent newspaper about child stars, and how accepting the Great British public (and global audiences) are of them. It follows the opening of the new "Golden Compass" film in cinemas across the world. The film stars 14 year old Ben Walker, who also turns up in Torchwood II...

Ben Walker, who's 14 and stars in The Golden Compass. He's small for his age, and seems conscious of it. He stood up throughout our interview, even though I was sitting down. His attitude towards his work was touching and impressive. He had clearly thought about the film as a whole, rather than just his part in it. "It shouldn't be too long as it might lose people... I think it was good we filmed in Oxford, because the buildings are atmospheric." He also spoke to me about crying for the cameras.

"Usually, they put this fake-tear stuff under your eyes, that's minty and kind of burns. One little bit makes you cry, which is really weird. I was using it on Sweeney Todd but then, on one take I thought, I'm gonna try and do it without. Then I got really emotional. I thought about the character, and what he would do in the situation. But I also thought about my great granddad.

"He was in the First and Second World Wars and that's a really good achievement, considering how many people got killed. You've got to feel for him because he's a really brave man, so I sort of use my granddad as a way to get upset, though I know he's still there for me even though he's dead now. When he passed away I didn't have as much of a career as I do now but I know he's still looking down on me and what I do. So I just want to carry on with it and try to make my family proud of me."

There is another sadness in Walker's life: his mother isn't well. "He got a part in Torchwood that was rather close to home," his father tells me. "He had to play a young boy with leukaemia. But he got through it, he got through it."

Here's hoping Ben's mother recovers quickly, and that Ben's career continues on the up!
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