Thursday, October 23, 2014
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'Giver' kids Thwaites and Rush recall their first jobs

Australian Brenton Thwaites and Israel-born Odeya Rush remember their first professional acting gigs: an anti-drug PSA for him, a game of strip poker on 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' for her.

'Giver’ kids Thwaites and Rush recall their first jobs

Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush check for a pulse, from "The Giver."
Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush check for a pulse, from "The Giver."

In The Giver, the big screen adaptation of Lois Lowry’s mega-selling children’s novel (opening weekend box office: not so mega), it’s all about “sameness:” uniform houses, clothes, bikes -- and jobs picked for the children by a community of elders. You’re assigned a task, and you stick with it. For life.

Brenton Thwaites and Odeya Rush -- he from Australia, she from Israel, and now living in L.A. – went through months of audition agony before they were told they had landed their respective roles as hero and heroine of the artfully staged Philip Noyce-directed feature. Thwaites, 25, figured he was too old to play a teenager. Rush, 17, lost confidence with every call-back.  But there they are, as Jonas and Fiona, on billboards and bus shelters around the country in the company of The Giver’s big-star elders, Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep.

On a swing through Philadelphia just before the Weinstein Company release opened, Thwaites (toting his Qantas Airlines-stickered guitar case) and Rush talked about their fledgling careers, and their first paid jobs.

“Mine would have been playing a stoner, laying on a couch for an educational video,” Thwaites recalls. “I was 19, my first year of college. I was smoking this whatever-it-is herbal fake stuff on the couch, pretending to be a stoner…. You know, the dangers of getting high.”

For Rush, it was Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. The 2011 “Mister Softee” episode, in which Larry flashes back to a traumatic episode -- inside an ice cream truck -- from his youth:

“I played Larry David’s first girlfriend, when he was like 11," Rush says. "I was 13, so I guess I was playing 'younger,' and we were playing strip poker and I was winning the whole time.

“I didn’t know what Curb Your Enthusiasm was, and after I got the part I think I had two weeks [before shooting] and I was like, ‘OK, I need to do some serious research!’ So I went to Blockbuster and I got all the DVDs from all of the seasons — and then when I met Larry David  I was just so starstruck because I had been watching every episode for two weeks straight.

“I think that was the most nervous I’d ever been. He was a guy I really admired."

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at srea@phillynews.com.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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