Thirteen year old Dakota Goyo hails from Toronto Canada but his work has taken him around. The young actor has just returned home from Iceland where he shot scenes as the younger Russell Crowe in Darren Aronofsky’s Noah (2014) to promote the Guillermo Del Toro-produced holiday fantasy Rise of the Guardians.
He stars as Jamie, a human boy who joins forces with them. We spoke with Goyo on a Friday the day after he introduced the film to an enthusiastic hometown crowd.
“I loved the movie. Accomplished the only word I can think of to describe it. I felt very happy to see it and the laughing during the jokes felt very good. You may like a guardian more than the other ones and when you get them all together everyone wants to go see it.”
Guardians is the story of childhood’s greatest heroes – North (Santa), the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost and the Sandman uniting to defend children from despair in the form of Pitch Black – the Bogeyman. It’s visually stunning within an emotional landscape that is original and asks tough questions.
“What makes it special to me is the color that they used, it’s so colorful! Amazing, amazing colors! The dream sand, Pitch’s sand, black and shiny. I like purple and black, I like all the colors they used, on Santa, the Tooth Fairy, it’s all amazing. It is colorful like a kid likes to see like Foot Loops. You want to bite it, it’s so colorful. They use color for that reason. And Pitch is so different his face is like Snape in Harry Potter, a twist.”
Filmmaker Rod Lurie chose Dakota to star in Resurrecting the Champ in 2007 when. He was deeply impressed by the then eight year old actor.
Says Lurie, “I cast Dakota essentially off of an audition tape that his mom had made of him. We had been through so many kids, so many kids and I was pulling out what little hair I had left. When his tape showed up it was kind of a miracle. He wasn't only able to traverse all the emotions needed for the character - he seemed to understand the emotions as well. He reminded me instantly of little Justin Henry from Kramer Versus Kramer. He also knew everybody else's lines. I remember one scene in which one of the actors forgot their lines and Dakota would whisper them to that actor.”
Dakota says his role in Noah is emotional, but he doesn’t want to give anything away. He does however share his technique for meeting the emotional challenges on his films.
“I think of bad situations which is not really a good thing to do but I think of them and it brings out great emotions. It’s not a pleasant thing to think of generally but it’s what I do, like with my dog in a bad situation or something happens. Something that happened in the past and it makes you cry.”
Dakota’s acting career began young. Almost right out of the womb, you might say. “My mum put me in acting. I did my first commercial for Canadian Blood Services when I was two weeks old.” And she’s still calling the shots, allowing Dakota to make no more than two or three film a year. “That’s it. I gotta keep in school.” But he does get the odd Friday off for publicity purposes!
Goyo’s an enthusiastic student and his friends don’t bug him about being in the movies. “I don’t bring my acting career to my friends they treat me like a normal kid and I appreciate that. It’s a lot of work because I have to mix in my school and family and friends. When I’m on set I am very disciplined but when I’m at home in a regular kid.” He’s happy to be home now but says “I love traveling and the airports one of my favorite parts of making movies.”
As for the kind of role he’d like to do in the future, he names one of his favorites. “Have you ever watched Will Smith's Pursuit of Happyness with Jaden Smith his son? To do that would be an amazing experience. I love how he brings that emotion he makes you cry ten minutes into the movie. I like how it becomes happy at the end and your emotions run through the entire thing.”
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