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."