Three weeks ago, TheSkyKid.com announced the winners of the 3rd Annual Coming of Age Movie Awards. The Canadian movie 10 1/2, directed by Daniel Grou, won the award in the Best International Film category while its lead, Robert Naylor, received the Best Newcomer Award for his role as Tommy in the film.
Quebec born, Fourteen year old Robert Naylor could already be considered a veteran actor. He began his career with acting lessons at the tender age of five at a local children’s theater school in Montreal. He quickly proved himself in his first ever audition capturing role in an English TV commercial. Since then he has accumulated a long line of commercial and television appearances as well as his first major role in 10 1/2 where he was awarded Best Actor award for his portrayal of a troubled youth named Tommy, alongside veteran Quebec actor Claude Legault.
Aside from acting, Robert enjoys a wide variety of interests. The ambition and passion he demonstrates on the screen extends from his real commitment to all that he does. He is a good student with his favorite subject being History and he participates in soccer, hockey, and especially enjoys skiing. He is also quite musically talented demonstrating his abilities on the drums, bass, and electric guitar.
Robert took time to chat with us about acting, music and keeping his head on straight in the entertainment industry.
In this interview, the questions posed by theskykid.com will be represented by the letters “SK” and Robert Naylor’s answers will appear as “RN“.
SK : Hello Robert.
SK: First off I would like to thank you for taking the time to sit down and do an interview for the readers of TheSkyKid.com. The role of Tommy in 10 ½, Daniel Grou’s film, was your first lead role and you have received a lot of recognition for your performance – including Best Performance by an Actor in an International Feature Film at the 32nd edition of the Young Actors Awards and the 3rd Annual Coming of Age film awards and Best Actor at the International Film Festival Bratislava. Do people treat you differently at school now that you’re beginning to make a name for yourself as an actor?
RN: No, not really. My friends are still my friends. People at school still treat me the same way. And since my film was in French I am a lot more popular in the French environment – and I go to an English school. So that’s kind of the reason why a lot of my people don’t know and don’t see me on a daily basis in the movies or at different TV shows. So I would not say that they treat me differently – everybody is very supportive, everybody is very happy for me so it’s all good.
SK: Yeah. Sometimes it’s hard to convince the people whose native language is English to see anything that is not in English. But if they did not see that film, they will not see you in it and will miss a great film.
SK: How did you get this part in 10 ½? Was it an audition process?
RN: Yes. It was an audition. I have an agent here in Montreal and it was just another audition. That is what the agents do is they get what is called “the breakdown” (which is an outline of the project), who the director is, where it’s going to be filmed, and they give a description of the role they are looking for. So we got this breakdown and it said that they needed a kid to play a ten-year-old (the kid could be between 12 and 14). So I was interested in the project, and they came back and said “Yes. We would like to see Robert in an audition. Here are the lines he has to learn for the audition“.
I went in there and my first audition was really good. And then about a week later they called me back for a second audition (usually those are called callbacks). When I came in for the callback, the actor who plays with me in the movie Claudie was there. So we did a little bit of improvisation together and after that they called me back and said “Look. We would like to offer you the role“ and I went from there.
SK: Tell us about your role in 10 ½. What is your character in the film like?
RN: He is a very troubled child. He is ten and a half years old – thus the title of the film. He comes from a dysfunctional family. He is a very violent child; he acts out only in violence. Most of the emotions he is feeling he acts out through violence. It was very hard to play him because of that reason. It was very exhausting on the set. It’s very exhausting to do all these physical activities. It’s mental exhaustion as well, because in the film there is constant pain, there is constant anguish, there is constant crying. So it’s very tiring to play that role. But I think you have to go through that exhaustion and that pain to play a good role. As an actor you are going to get parts like that where you have to really have to give it your all! I think that was the biggest challenge and that was what made Tommy who he is.
SK: I agree with you. Usually I judge how good an actor is by the emotional response his performance evokes in me. Your performance was excellent in the sense that, at times, I felt the pain and some of the feelings your character was feeling while watching the film. So you did very well.
SK: There are scenes in 10 ½ that would be considered “suggestive” or anti-social behavior. Did you or your family have any problems with you doing those scenes in the movie?
RN: No. I would not call them problems. There were concerns obviously.
My mom just wanted to make sure that it was going to be controlled; she wanted to know how the scenes were going to be done because, just as you said, there were some suggestive scenes. But there weren’t any problems that would prevent me from shooting the film. It was pretty much just concerns for my family and for myself; just to make sure how it was all going to go down — what was going to be happening. But no, they never would have prevented me from playing the part.
SK: The industry standard is to have a chaperone on the set for actors who are minors. So I guess that would have been true in your case as well.
SK: How did you like working with the other actors in this film? Did you form any special bonds with anyone?
RN: Yes. I became very good friends with the other actors and even better friends with the director Daniel Grou (Podz). He and I are really good friends. We have been to film festivals in Europe together and we have done a lot of other things together. The other actors in the film are really great. You can’t make a film good just on your own. You have to have very good supporting cast. You have to have good actors around you. You have to have good people to give you meat to chew to give you work that you can play with. You know, you can’t just do it on your own! The other actors are very talented — all of them. To me, every single one of them (I knew a few of them from before) are very talented actors.
SK: How do you juggle school and work when you’re on a movie set? I read on Wikipedia that you are going to an alternative school. What does that mean?
RN: An alternative school means that the courses are taught both in English and French. When I did this film, 10 1/2, I was in my first year of high school – two and a half years ago. It was my first real experience being away from school a lot. It was like a test run to see how, in the future, we are going to work it with the school. But now I have a tutor who comes in every week, even when I am not shooting, just to make sure that I am caught up. Because, even if I am not shooting on projects, there are always small projects, different recordings I do, auditions, etc. So I am always missing school. This year of school, I don’t think I’ve been there even one full week. I am always gone at some point. So that is why the tutor comes in every week. And when I’m on set, there is always a tutor who is there if you are going to miss “x” number of days of school because of the shoots. It’s a rule of the union that you have to have a tutor on set. It’s gotten easier for me over the years. I’ve gotten used to how to work and the best way to approach school.
SK: You’ve been on quite a few TV shows — among them: Race to Mars, Voices and Fakers. How would you compare TV work to shooting movies?
RN: In TV shows, the shoots are a lot longer – because in a lot of TV shows you do twelve to twenty episodes of maybe an hour each. That’s a long longer than shooting a film. So the shooting is always a lot longer, but it always goes much quicker. Every scene is really – I would not say in a rush – but there is no fooling around. You get things down and you really don’t have time for breaks at the TV show shoots. It’s really Go- Go – Go! That’s good, in some ways, because in the TV shows you get to speak with the character and it’s not only one situation. Whereas, in the movie shoots, there’s usually one topic and that whole movie evolves around that one plot and that one conflict. And, what’s good about TV shows is that you have hours and hours and hours of content. So you have a lot more topics to deal with, a lot more problems that your character is dealing with. They are both fun in their different ways, so I don’t think I like one more than the other. I like doing both!
SK: You also do a lot of voice-over recordings. In fact, the voice-over of Arthur is mentioned on Wikipedia.
RN: Yes. I do a lot of voice-over recordings. It’s actually what I do the majority of the time – that’s what keeps me busy. And that’s completely different from being on set and shooting on camera because, when you are doing voice recording — especially when you are doing cartoons, the only thing a person hears is your voice. So you have to make everything come out through your voice. You have to make every single emotion you are feeling, every thought, show in your voice, because that’s all the audience will hear; they can’t see your face. Yes, they will see the cartoon character’s face, but they don’t feel it — they can’t look through his eyes like they can with a human actor on the screen. So you have to exaggerate some emotions. Not exaggerate to the point where it sounds kinda stupid and clumsy, but enough to convey everything through your voice. So that’s also very fun and I do a lot of that.
SK: I’ve heard a few samples of your voice-overs at the talent agency web site and you’ve very good at it!
SK: Besides acting, you’re also into DJ’ing. It’s not too common for a 14-year-old boy in Canada to be Dj-ing. How did you get involved in that?
RN: Actually the Canadian dance music scene has evolved a lot. There is a lot more of that. I think I first got into it when I heard the song Brazil by Deadmau5. That was really the track that got me into this style of music. And I just started going from there and found a huge passion for producing music as well as DJ-ing. If I am not on set, and if I am not in school, that is what I am doing. The rest of my life is devoted towards producing music as well as DJ-ing. It has been a few years and I love it, I really love it. I am mostly into trance music, but I’m open to electro, progressive, minimal, tech-house, techno – all different kinds of music. I like to keep an open mind – but right now trance is really what I like.
SK: Yes. There is a lot of diversity. You have a web site where you share your music, or rather it’s a podcast. Can you share its address?
RN: You can go to www.overtonerecordings.com and there you will find download links for all the different shows. You will find the track lists of the shows and the podcasts come out the first Tuesday of every month. One came out last week. If anybody wants to go listen to it – you can just go to the web site and there you can subscribe at iTunes and you can have a direct download. That’s also really fun, because I get to showcase the favorite tracks I have heard in the past month. It’s fun to me because I get to share my musical interests.
SK: Yes. I listened to your last podcast and its really, really cool. So I highly recommend to everyone to go and check out that site.
SK: A few days ago you tweeted about being on the set. What movie are you working on?
RN: I am actually done as I was working on a short film and those shoots are not very long. So I shoot Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. That short film is about seventeen minutes long and will be probably doing festivals in Europe and then in the US, probably sometime in the Fall. It’s called Alone with Mr. Carter and unfortunately I am not allowed to release any more information about it besides the title.
SK: I understand.
SK: Would you like to use this opportunity to say something to your fans?
RN: I love all the social networking – Facebook, Twitter and everything like that. When we saw that I was up for nominations at the Coming of Age Movie Awards, everybody wanted to help out. So everybody started voting, everybody who has seen the film, and it sort of went from there. I am pretty active on Twitter. Some people tweet more than me, but I have a couple of thousands tweets So if you want to go follow me – I’d love that because I love getting new followers. I try to tweet interesting things. Sometimes I tweet boring things that happen in my life…but yeah whatever. And yeah, I would like to say that I love theskykid.com – I’d like to say thanks everybody for watching my movies and supporting me. It has really been great.
SK: Thank you very much for this interview. We appreciate it and we will be looking forward to any films in the future that you may star in. I’m sure they will be as good as Ten 1/2.