Cameron Monaghan has been interviewed by Zooey Magazine:
Can you tell us a little about your start in the film industry? You started doing commercials at age five. Is that correct?
Well, I grew up watching movies and television from a very young age. Basically, how I learned to read was through the captions on TV. I had a lot of energy. I was a pretty hyperactive kid, and my mom wanted to find some way for me to focus that energy. I told her I wanted to be in movies, so she got me involved in local community theater, and I really took to it. So we started doing some commercial group work and moved on to film and television auditions at eight years old. I landed my first movie, it was The Music Man with Matthew Broderick, that I shot in Canada, and I really really loved it. I’ve been doing it ever since.
What sort of things inspire you as an actor?
It’s sometimes hard to narrow it down, because you take inspiration from anything you see. Just people walking down the street can inspire you. Or, if someone does something weird with a coffee cup, you might steal that. I’ve always been a massive fan of Gary Oldman (“Dracula,” “The Dark Knight”). I love people who have the ability to shift between a large variety of characters and personalities, and not be pegged down to one type. I think Sam Rockwell did that as well (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”). I’m a big fan of the Coen brothers (“The Big Lebowski,” “True Grit”), Quentin Tarantino (“Pulp Fiction”), movies with really great dialogue and memorial characters.
You said that you like to play a variety of characters. How do you usually choose what auditions to go for?
Either I have to find the character intriguing or some element of the script. Or if the writer or director has done some interesting stuff, I might consider the project specifically for that reason, but I generally am only interested in projects that have something odd or different about them. That’s kind of been my main factor.
Do you have techniques that help you get into character before acting?
Not really. It’s different with every character. Sometimes it could be a specific song or style of music might really reminds me of the character, sometimes it could start from the shoes and work your way up from there. It’s just about finding some greater element that reminds you of the whole of who this person is.
So you’ve been in a lot of movies lately: “Mall,” “The Giver,” “Vampire Academy,” “Jamie Marks is Dead.” Do you identify most with one of the characters you’ve played?
Well that’s interesting, because the character I play in “Jamie Marks is Dead” is very shy and reclusive, as opposed to in “Vampire Academy,” he’s pretty outgoing and sarcastic and affable. I think the character I play in “The Giver” might be my favorite in how complex his arc is throughout the story. It’s a little different from the book. The book is great, but it’s very short so it doesn’t exactly translate into a full film. So they had to add certain elements, and one of the elements they added was really boosting the character of Asher that I play. He starts as Jonas’s best friend, and then from there, kind of shifts…I don’t want to give anything away. It’s very hard to do without giving anything away. Basically, he becomes a very tragic character, very fallible, there’s something very human about his story that I really related to.
You mentioned that you do martial arts earlier today…
I box. I used to do Taekwondo, and something called XMA (Extreme Martial Arts), kickboxing and a ton of different stuff. Now I just mostly do regular boxing. And then I ride bikes, I cycle, I run; I do a lot of different stuff. I like to remain pretty active. It’s mostly my short attention span though. Always wanting to be doing something.
So you were born in Santa Monica, but you grew up in Florida. Do you still split your time between both of the coasts?
No, I’m LA based now. I’ve been living here for about ten years. You know, you go back and forth a little bit when you first move, but after a certain point…Most of my family doesn’t live there anymore anyway. I have a couple of relatives that live in Northern Florida. My hometown is much more south, so there’s no real reason to be going back there anymore.