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JJ Dashnaw: Meet the actor who plays Sharkboy in We Can Be Heroes

Taylor Dooley as Lavagirl and JJ Dashnaw as Sharkboy
Taylor Dooley as Lavagirl and JJ Dashnaw as Sharkboy. Pic credit: Netflix

Before glittery vampires and bare-chested werewolf bros in the days of Twilight, Taylor Lautner was Sharkboy.

The actor played the role for Robert Rodriguez back in 2005 in the family-friendly fantasy film The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl — also listed in our Best Family Movies on Netflix.

Now, a sequel titled We Can Be Heroes has been made with a fresh new face in the role.

That actor is JJ Dashnaw (or Jeffrey Dashnaw), and he will portray adult Sharkboy in the sequel alongside the original actress Taylor Dooley who played Lavagirl.

So why change the role, and who is the new mysterious actor JJ Dashnaw? Why would Taylor Lautner not want to return? Here is everything to know about the new Sharkboy — or Sharkman?

JJ Dashnaw from We Can Be Heroes: Who is the new Sharkboy?

While Dashnaw may not be a household name in Hollywood, the actor is no slouch inside the industry. In fact, the performer has been a stuntman for 30 years, and IMDb had credited him with over 70 jobs in various productions in film and television.

As of right now, his LinkedIn has him solely working for Troublemaker Studios, which is Robert Rodriguez‘s production company. This explains why he was hired for We Can Be Heroes.

The profile also says he has been working for the Troublemaker crew for the past eight years.

Outside the realm of being a stuntman, Dashnaw has done a few acting gigs, including a small role in the Netflix film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

That gives him some street cred working with the Coen Brothers.

And beyond the film world, Dashnaw has made television appearances in shows such as S.W.A.T., C.S.I., Criminal Minds, and The O.C.

But why replace Taylor Lautner?

Taylor Lautner as Sharkboy: Why is he not back as the character?

After many commercial and critical failures at the box-office and streaming, Lautner seemed to take a break from acting in mainstream films.

His last two major films were the Adam Sandler comedy The Ridiculous 6, which currently sits at an impressive 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and a drama called Run the Tide that slipped under the radar.

In an interview in 2016, Lautner explained he felt trapped by the box Twilight placed him in as a performer and was ready to do other things beyond the camera.

Talking to Reuters (via, Lautner expressed his desire for change, saying:

“For me the biggest thing is just surrounding myself with people that I love, just spending time, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing as long as I’m with my friends and my family. You know, I could be sitting in a cardboard box and that’s where I’m happiest.”

This would explain why Lautner would not be excited to return to Sharkboy. It’s not exactly a role that would break him out of his Twilight box.

Plus, with We Can Be Heroes, the children are the stars in this film, with Lavagirl and Sharkboy as side characters this time. This is similar to the original when Lautner was a kid himself.

For this reason, it makes sense to bring in someone new like Dashnaw to fill the void in Lautner’s absence.

Given the decade-spanning relationship JJ Dashnaw built with director Robert Rodriguez, it’s easy to assume that Dashnaw’s entrance will be seamless for all audiences once the film hits next year.

We Can Be Heroes will stream on Netflix on January 1, 2021.