Owen Vaccaro Talks to Tim Nasson about the movie The House With A Clock In Its Walls, in theaters September 21, 2018.
Interviewing movie stars has been part of my life since I was in high school. And make no mistake, you, the readers, love to get the scoop on Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, as much as I love talking to them and getting them to spill the beans. But, sometimes, it’s refreshing to see the world of Hollywood from the eyes of an up-and-coming actor, who is promoting their first starring role. The first time that happened to me was with Julia Roberts. She was 21, I was 17. No one from any major publication wanted to interview her for Mystic Pizza, the first movie in which she was the lead, because no one had heard of her. Everyone who turned down that interview has been kicking themselves since.
I recently had the chance to chat with Owen Vacarro. You can’t place the name yet, because he is only 12, and the movie The House With a Clock In Its Walls, is the first movie he carries, with the help of Jack Black, who plays his uncle Jonathan. But mark my words. Owen Vacarro will be a household name in the next few years.
In the tradition of Steven Spielberg’s Amblin classics where fantastical events occur in the most unexpected places, Jack Black (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Goosebumps) and two-time Academy Award winner Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine, Elizabeth) star in the film.
The magical adventure tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis Barnavelt (Vaccaro) who goes to live with his eccentric uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead.
Ten-year-old Lewis, recently orphaned and sent to stay with his Uncle Jonathan (Black) has discovered a hidden world of magic, mystery and supernatural menace—and it’s all in his sleepy little town. When Lewis moves in with Uncle Jonathan, he discovers that the curious mansion he now calls home is full of secrets—chief among them an incessant tick-tocking coming from somewhere in the house…
He’s not sure which is more astonishing: the wondrous, sprawling house…or his oddball Uncle Johnathan and Jonathan’s best friend, verbal sparring partner and neighbor Mrs. Zimmerman (Blanchett).
If adjusting to a new school and new friends weren’t enough to deal with in this unexpected suburban life, Lewis’ entire world turns upside down when he discovers Uncle Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman are both powerful practitioners of the magic arts.
Lewis is now caught up in something equally wild with a warlock and a witch—who are on a secret mission to discover the source and the meaning of a foreboding ticking doomsday clock…hidden away somewhere within the house’s walls.
All of this, plus deadly curses, attacking jack-o’-lanterns, endless hours of homework, and an evil wizard who has returned from the grave? Lewis’ new life is more than enough for any clever and cunning 10-year-old to juggle.
As a lost orphan transforms into one of the world’s most powerful young wizards, he won’t only have the adventure of a lifetime…he’ll help heal two very broken people and allow them to rediscover their magic.
Based on the first volume in the beloved children’s series of books written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey The House with a Clock in Its Walls is directed by master frightener Eli Roth (Hostel).
Vaccaro (no relation to Oscar nominee Brenda Vaccaro) grew up in Atlanta and got the acting bug in first grade. He began acting in regional theater, and with the help of his parents, found a great agent.
The rest is history.
Vaccaro has appeared opposite some of Hollywood’s most bankable stars. He played the son of Mark Wahlberg’s Dusty and stepson of Will Ferrell’s Brad in both Daddy’s Home movies, and appeared in Garry Marshall’s final film, Mother’s Day.
While at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, promoting the movie The House With A Clock In Its Walls, Owen Vaccaro enlightens us about his life so far.
Tim Nasson: Interviews. Do you like doing them?
Owen Vaccaro: It’s my favorite part. The press stuff has always been my favorite.
Tim: When did you first realize you wanted to become an actor?
Owen: I was in the first grade. My first acting job was in local theater in Atlanta where I am from.
Tim: What do you like to do for fun, or when you’re not acting in movies?
Owen: I love theater, going to the theater.
Tim: What’s your favorite play?
Owen: I don’t really like plays. I like musicals. My favorite musical is Mean Girls The Musical on Broadway. I also love Kinky Boots.
Tim: If you could be on Broadway, would that be something you would love to do?
Owen: I would be so excited if I could do a musical on Broadway.
Tim: If you could choose which Broadway musical to be in, what would it be?
Owen: Either Mean Girls or Kinky Boots.
Tim: What was your favorite part of making The House With A Clock In Its Walls?
Owen: I guess my favorite day of shooting was when we did the scene with the robots or automatons, whatever they are called. That was a lot of fun.
Tim: You’ve worked with Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell in both Daddy’s Home movies and now Jack Black in The House With A Clock In Its Walls. They all play parental figures to you. If you had to pick one, which character would you want to live with Mark Wahlbergs’s Dusty, Will Ferrell’s Brad or Jack Black’s Uncle Jonathan?
Owen: Oh, gosh. That is a tough question. They’re all so cool for different reasons. Uncle Jonathan is cool, because he can do magic. Dusty is super cool. And Brad is responsible. I can’t really pick, but if I have to, Uncle Jonathan, only because magic is so cool.
Tim: Do you prefer going to school or having a tutor on set when you’re making a movie?
Owen: I like having a tutor, because I can get so much done faster. I just got one week of two subjects done in an hour and a half.
Tim: How did you spend your first paycheck? Did you buy anything fun with it?
Owen: I put it away for college. Not really. But I did buy a new iPad, because the one I had was broken.
Tim: The House With A Clock In Its Walls is produced by Steven Spielberg. Was he ever on the set?
Owen: No. He never came to the set. But I really want to meet him.
Tim: What is your favorite movie of all time?
Owen. Mean Girls. I have seen it seven times. But I also like Back to the Future.
Tim: Other than filming the movie, what was the most fun thing to do on the set of The House With A Clock In Its Walls?
Owen: Cate Blanchett brought her son to the set all the time and we became friends and hung out in the trailer a lot. That was a lot of fun.
Tim: If this movie goes through the roof, everyone is going to know who you are and will be coming up to you a lot more for autographs and photos. How does that make you feel?
Owen: Everyone is telling me that is going to happen, but I really don’t think it will. But if it were to happen it would be fun.
Vaccaro has such a gregarious personality that no matter what fate has in store for him, it is very likely that he will go with the flow and enjoy the ride, all while making everyone who has the pleasure of meeting him even happier that they had the chance to.
Next up for Owen Vaccaro, the movie Team Marco, in which he learns to play bocce ball. “I’m really bad at bocce, but it is a lot of fun to play,” said Vaccaro, “and I loved making the movie.”
The House With A Clock In Its Walls is in theaters September 21, 2018.
Owen Vaccaro Poised for Stardom for His Role in The House With A Clock In Its Walls.