From Executive Producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett and award winning filmmaker, Alejandro Monteverde (of Bella fame) comes Little Boy, an inspirational family film that is sure to spread a message of hope for generations to come. Set in small town America during World War II, Little Boy follows Pepper Flynt Busbbee as his faith, the size of a mustard seed, challenges and grows an entire community.
Sonoma Christian Home had the wonderful opportunity to chat with two of the film’s actors, Michael Rapaport and Jakob Salvati. SCH Editor at Large Dawn Gregg reports.
SCH: Michael, what drew you to this project?
MR: Scripts get reputations very quickly and this one had a good one early on. It was a great opportunity with a beautiful script. Such a well written screenplay with people who focused on doing something unique. Alejandro and Pepe were so excited and so passionate about it. And Emily Watson, I love her. I would love to work with her!
I was drawn to the father/son relationship in the story. It just had all the right ingredients. And then I met Jakob and I can’t say enough about how good and professional he is, and how hard he tries. It was a very genuine and sweet, working on this film. I feel as if Jakob’s performance is going to be considered one of the great performances by a child actor. It’s incredible; the emotional depth and the genuineness that you get from him. His smile and his crying. You feel all of his emotions.
At this point in the interview Michael looks to Jakob and says, “Now you gotta give me five dollars.” It’s apparent these two like each other a lot.
SCH: Jakob, to that point. You made me cry during the film. And, you made it seem so easy! It seemed so natural for you. How were you able to get to those emotions?
JS: Through faith and what I believe. Through what can really happen and not what I think can happen.
SCH: Did you grow in your faith as a result of playing this role?
JS: Very much so. I learned that all things are possible with God. He’s amazing. He’s done everything for you. He’s given you your life. And…He’s given His life for you.
SCH: I asked (Director) Alejandro Monteverde if he had only one word to describe you… what that word would be? Do you have any idea what he said?
Jakob is genuinely stumped. He has no idea what to expect.
SCH: It was very sweet. He said…”pure.”
SCH: I think that translated really well on screen: your purity. If you had only one word to describe Alejandro, what would that word be?
JS: Genius. He directed! That’s one of the hardest jobs you can do. You have to feel the actors emotions and judge if they are correct.
SCH: Michael, the film deals so truthfully and yet sensitively with the subject of racism.
MR: There’s parts of history from all countries – their dirty things, their mistakes – that they wouldn’t repeat. I think at the end of the day I think we have a positive depiction of what was going on then. I was not aware of the extent of the racism going on during that time period. I had never really seen it. I bought books to do research. The racism was vile. It was interesting to learn about that. It’s something that should never be duplicated.
SCH: The movie also deals with the issue of bullying. Can you talk about that theme?
MR: Bullying is such a topic nowadays. When I was a kid, it wasn’t something that was in the forefront. When I was a kid the mentality was “Only the strong survive.” In this day and age – and I think it’s a good side of political correctness – it’s a whole different thing. We’re exposed to a lot more because of the cameras and the Internet. If I videotaped my childhood, I would be an Internet sensation. In this film, I think the anti-bullying message is very timely and it’s done in a very genuine way.
Little Boy is getting bullied by the local kids because they think he’s easy prey. Then my two sons start bullying Hashimoto. Everybody is doing it and having it done to them. Unfortunately it’s a part of human nature. I think the discussion is good. People are becoming more aware. This thing about this movie is that it’s a timeless movie. All the messages that it integrates into one story will span the test of time.
JS: The man who plays Hashimoto, Cary, is an amazing guy. Very funny and very easy to talk to.
SCH: Michael, sometimes I think those who are in the creative world choose projects that speak to their own lives. Is there anything you can reflect back on and think “Wow! I was up against a mountain and this film helped me climb it?”
MP: I think for me being a parent. I don’t have any idealistic notions of parenting. It’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s a challenge for any parent. Hopefully you make it through. There’s so much of me who relates so much to being a kid. I still relate so much to being 15 and now I have a 15 year old and I’m like…”Oh man!” Look what I’m up against. I know at a certain point you start to block out your parents.
Also, I wish I was easier to deal with as a child. I gave my mother and father a hard time. At the time, you don’t know that you’re doing that. It would definitely be the father/son relationships. Both being one and having one. That’s what I was working through. I know what you mean. With projects, if you are really connected to them, there’s usually something there. It was hard not to be connected to this story.
SCH: Jakob, what’s the greatest thing about playing this character?
JS: I felt very privileged to be there. I know I was very fortunate to get this role and be able to be the main character. I feel like we can use sets and acting as a way to spread the Word of God.
SCH: Will you share with us a favorite memory from the set?
JS: I would say the people because they were amazing. David Henrie especially. I remember a lot of tickle wars.
MR: I’m really proud to be a part of this project. It was a good experience. And I really appreciate the support for this film and your help in getting the word out on it. The movie business is in crisis. This is the type of film everybody can relate to. I think it’s a timeless story that can span the test of time. I think we might have done something here that is very nice. It’s a good movie.
Little Boy hits theatres April 24th. Be sure to take your families out to see it. Sonoma Christian Home cannot recommend enough this little movie that could.