IN CONVERSATION WITH ZACK BROOKS
Interview by Jana Letonja
Zack Brooks stars in the much anticipated Lionsgate film ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’ alongside Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates and Abby Ryder Forston. The film was released in theaters on 28th April.
Zack, you’re starring in your first feature film ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’, an adaptation of a novel that gained popularity in the 70s and is portraying a young girl confronting her early adolescent anxieties, like boys, female anatomy, bras and just growing up as a middle-schooler. Tell us more about this film.
It’s about dealing with a lot of those issues for sure. Of course, this film has a big reputation to live up too. It’s a classic. I would like to think that every girl around the age range this movie is set in has read or heard about this incredible Judy Blume book, especially now that it has turned into a film. Thanks to our director and screenwriter Kelly Fremon Craig, our producer James L. Brooks, Abby Ryder Fortson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates and all the other incredibly talented people involved in making the movie, Judy says it’s better than her book. So that’s really the best compliment we could hope for.
How was the experience of filming your first film for you?
There is no way I could have dreamt that my first film would be something like this. It’s mind blowing to think about. I’ve dabbled in some commercials and print campaigns, but I knew I really wanted to be in a film or series. All of the people associated with this production are the best of the best. It was a memorable experience and I now have friends for life. I feel incredibly lucky.
You got to be on set alongside Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates and Abby Ryder Forston. What have you learned from these amazing women?
I was on set with them, but sadly I didn’t have any scenes with Rachel or Kathy. But, I got to learn a lot from Abby. She gives everything to her craft and she was a huge influence on me, especially when it was time for our big scene together. I did have a chance to spend time with Rachel later. She is not only extremely talented, but one of the sweetest and kindest people I’ve ever met.
In the film, you play Philip, the heartthrob and very popular boy in school. He tends to go full-on neanderthal and exposes who he really is during the book and film. How challenging was it to portray Philip? And what excited you the most about his character?
Philip is a complex character who is going through changes, just like his middle-school female counterparts. Just like the girls are hoping to get all filled out like Laura Danker, Philip is a product of his culture as well. He’s trying to act like the manly men he sees and he thinks that means being cool and sort of tough. I loved playing the role of Philip because he’s so unlike me in my daily life. I do have a lot of friends who are girls and I hope they don’t think of me as even cool. But I do like to prank them, a little bit like Philip Leroy.
You developed an attraction to acting at a very young age, when you were only 4. What contributed to such an early attraction to acting?
My mom is an actor and most of an actor’s job is auditioning. I watched her a lot. She did her auditions, there was a ton of screaming, crying and dying during those audition. I saw her play all of these different parts and transform herself into characters who weren’t like her at all. It looked like a lot of fun and I wanted to do it too. At first I did modeling and commercials, but at the age of 12 I started getting TV and movie scripts. I was cast for Philip at that time and it took two years from filming to release. I’ve also worked on ‘Tulsa Kings’ with Sylvester Stallone in between.
What excites you the most about acting? What kind of roles do you wish to get an opportunity to portray in the future?
I have always had an active imagination and still do. I have a lot of characters that run through my mind a lot. This can sound a bit crazy, but if you talk to other creative people, they say the same thing. I’ve heard Christian Bale say that every character he’s ever played has stayed with him. I’m looking forward to playing a character in a drama or thriller. I have had this idea that I’d like to do a film where I play a young Willie Nelson. He’s my neighbor and I’d like to know all about how he became the living legend he is today.
If you could pick only one actor you really wish to work with, who would it be and why?
I admire Robert Downey, Jr. so much. I can hardly wait for ‘Oppenheimer’ to come out in June. The way he takes on such a variety of roles and is stellar in every single one is a true inspiration to me.
In your free time you are an avid skateboarder, mountain and pit-bike rider and are also trained in Parkour. What are some of the other things you really enjoy?
I love to do almost anything active, but I’m also equally passionate about playing my guitars. Playing music is challenging and trying to get some of my favorite songs to flow out through my fingers puts me into another dimension. Believe it or not, I also like to cook and paint.
Tell us more about your upcoming acting projects.
I’m doing a lot of auditioning at the moment, but hopefully I’ll get to be seen more in the second season of ‘Tulsa Kings’ and find roles that stretch me as an actor, so my abilities will continue to grow.