LOS ANGELES – Luke Ganalon is not your typical child actor. In fact, the 12-year-old is not your typical 12-year-old.
He speaks like a 30-year-old and thinks like one. Described by his parents Steve and Jennifer as an “old soul” because of his impressive maturity, Luke, when we interviewed him in downtown Los Angeles, presented himself as a confident, calm, intelligent and smart kid with a great passion to do well in his acting career.
He dreams big of becoming a director one of these days, too.
Luke, a child actor whose great-grandparents came to the United States from the Philippines in the early 1900s, stars in “Bless Me Ultima,” considered the most influential Chicano work of fiction ever written. But it was only last month when a feature film based on the novel opened in U.S. theaters to great reviews.
Puerto Rican actress Miriam Colon appears as the title character who is a mysterious healer or curandera while Luke portrays Antonio Marez, a central character in the book by Rudolfo Anaya, the father of Chicano literature. Rudolfo co-wrote with director Carl Franklin the adaptation of the story set during World War II in Mexico.
Although accompanied by his father Steve for this interview, Luke handled the interview by himself like a real pro.
“My paternal great-grandfather is Ilocano,” Luke revealed. “He came to America and served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Nevada. My paternal great-grandmother, who is also from the Philippines, moved to the U.S. in the 1900s. Her eldest son, Felixberto Serrano, lived in Quezon City.”
He also shared that he loves Filipino food like adobo and loves Fil-Am singer Bruno Mars. He enjoys the music of the Fil-Am R&B band, Legaci, and loves boxer Manny Pacquiao.
Although he has not been to the Philippines yet, Luke looks forward to visiting the homeland of his dad one of these days. “I heard it has a lot of beautiful beaches,” he said. His mom, the former Jennifer Bethel who is of Italian heritage, was born in the U.S.
He has two brothers – Shane, 20, and Miles, 10.
Luke, who auditioned for both Antonio and Cico roles, revealed that he has already read the book. “People can relate to the story because it deals with family, religion and life,” he said.
He said just like his character, Antonio, he is both serious and a thinker. “We question everything – life, religion – and we both believe in God,” he said.
He enjoyed filming in New Mexico because “the food, landscapes and other tourist attractions were great and the art and jewelry were amazing.”
Luke met the writer of the novel, Rudolfo Anaya. He recalled, “He told me that when he wrote the story, he imagined Antonio to be just like me.”
Luke, who also sings and dances, considers acting as his “main career.” He is also starring in a thriller, “Model Home,” where he plays the son of a bipolar singer mother as well as in Eva Longoria’s directorial project, “Out of the Blue.”
So whom among the Hollywood actors does he idolize, we asked the precocious 12-year-old. “I like Will Smith and Leonardo DiCaprio,” he quickly replied. “They are both great actors and very good businessmen.”
“Bless Me Ultima” has taken in $1.33 million at the box-office and recently, Luke’s photo was featured on the front page of the Los Angeles Times as the child actor of the said movie.
For sure, this is just the beginning for this “old soul.”
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We recently interviewed Jamie Foxx for “Django Unchained” where he portrays the title role.
The controversial movie, which is helmed by Quentin Tarantino, is about slavery during the 1800s and has already grossed over $402 million in theaters worldwide, making it Quentin’s highest-grossing film to date. It also earned for the director-writer the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay as well as the Golden Globe award for Best Screenplay and the BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay.
So how was it working with Quentin, we asked Jamie. “First of all, I want to talk about the courageousness of Quentin Tarantino and how he inspired all of us to be courageous to tell this incredible story,” Jamie said. “I have worked with some fantastic directors and they are all like the greatest in their own way. But with him, I think that there is a special quality about him that I just cannot express. Some of the things you may not know like the ending of the movie. That wasn’t the ending of the movie in the script. He blew the house up out of sequence. And after he blew it up, he stands on top of the rubble and says, ‘It is not going to work.’ And everybody is looking like, ‘What do you mean it’s not going to work?’
“He said, ‘My ending is not going to work.’ I watched this man go to his home. Everybody went home and he rewrote the ending and came back. It was better than the ending in the script. I have never seen anything like that. The experience of just shooting was amazing too. He would play music in between scenes on the set which in some of those really troubling and tough scenes, especially for an African-American person, eased the moment.
“I watched him when we were shooting some of the tougher scenes, like the chain gang, that he would go up and talk to every person you know to make sure that they were cool and that they were all right. In addition, I just thought it was just the little things. He started out with the strong vision and intentions and then once we started working, it’s as if he became your friend.
“The other thing about it is that when he would come to work, if he was working with Leo DiCaprio’s character or Samuel Jackson’s character, you could see him turn into that character. So it was just one of the most amazing experiences that I have had. And then to see it play so well in every little thing he said was going to happen, happened. Black audience. White audience. DGA, SAG, so that was amazing.”
We also asked Jamie how challenging it was to do the scene where he was upside down and naked. He replied, “The upside down scene is a necessary scene because that is what they did at that time. There was a black man and the whole thing was getting your nuts snipped, which was a way to dehumanize a black man while they were killing him. So that was a very important scene. And as a black man watching the movie, not only do I squirm, but it means a little more. It was necessary for that to be done. I thought he shot iteloquently in the sense of how it could have been. I thought he got the point across and at the same time, it didn’t jump out so unnaturally that it sort of tilted the movie. It was exactly what needed to happen which set up the vengeance even more for Django when he came back and did the shoot-em-up.”
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