Hangin' with Sharkboy, Lavagirl....and Max
Robert Rodriguez entertained whole families with his Spy Kids films. Now, from the mind of his son Racer Max, comes The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3-D. How does playing superheroes and their "regular kid" creator effect three young and eager actors? We found out recently in Beverly Hills when we cornered the young stars of the film. Dark-haired, cute, 13-year-old Taylor Lautner plays Sharkboy, pretty, 12-year-old Natalie Portman look-alike Taylor Dooley plays Lavagirl and blonde Cayden Boyd, age 11, co-stars as Max, the kid who literally dreams them up. The trio admit to being friends off set as well and Cayden, being the youngest, looks up to his slightly older co-stars.
"Sharkboy" is all about dreams, the ones we have at night and our colorful daydreams; really just sparks of creativity that are sometimes discouraged so much that we lose them as adults. Robert Rodriguez never lost his and he hopes you won't either. His son Max thought up the characters while swimming in the family pool with dad. Robert likes to play "Shark Man" and chase his kids around. Max thought it would be cool to be Shark Boy and join the predators rather than be "eaten" and the idea for an adventure film was born. Join us as we talk with three energetic young actors who are living their dreams by being in the film!
TeenHollywood: There are two Taylors. What did they call you on the set?
Taylor D: Sharkie and Lava.
TeenHollywood: How did you all get picked for this film?
Taylor L: All of our agents just got us auditions. I met with a casting director and got called back and met with Robert at his hotel. I met with him and his son. L.A. was one of his first stops and they went throughout the whole country and then came back and told me I booked it and I was really, really excited.
Taylor D: I auditioned five times. I was the last person cast of the three of us. I went with the casting director twice and then with Robert twice. One time at the hotel here with Racer. Then one time again with just Robert.
Cayden: My agent told my mom and my mom told me, 'this is the director of Spy Kids'. I was blown away and once I heard that it was a superhero movie, I was more blown away. I love super heroes. I love these guys. I auditioned three times. I finished it was just 'okay, bye, Cayden. See you later'. I was just going 'wow, man. That didn't go so good I guess'. Then they got me a callback and I thought maybe I did do good. Then I meet him [Taylor] and he goes 'hi, I'm Sharkboy'. Then I got it.
TeenHollywood: Did any of you ever have a dream that somebody tried to kill?
Cayden: Well, I wanted to be a race car driver. I wanted to be a super hero but then my sister was like 'yeah, right'. But, except for that, my sister has been supportive.
TeenHollywood: Robert works with a lot of green screen and pretending something is there that isn't. How hard was that and how helpful was Robert?
Taylor D: He was really helpful.
Taylor L: The first two weeks there it was kind of difficult because we'd never had anything like that. You had to have a great imagination and then Robert Rodriguez would tell us pecifically 'this is over here. This is what you're doing'. He'd help us a lot.
Taylor D: He'd show us pictures of what the background looked like or digital pictures of what we should be doing.
TeenHollywood: Was Racer Max [Rodriguez] involved in helping you with your characters?
Taylor L: He'd offer ideas like 'this would be cool if Sharkboy would do this'. Or 'it would be cool if Lavagirl did this'.
Taylor D: Yeah. Some of the ideas inside the script were his but he was never like on set helping Robert come up with ideas.
Taylor L: Whenever they were at home he'd offer an idea and if Robert liked it and thought it was a good idea he'd write it into the script.
TeenHollywood: Do you know the history of how Sharkboy and Lavagirl were created?
Taylor L: Racer came up with Sharkboy and Lavagirl. When they were swimming, they played Shark games. They have a little island in their pool and Robert would jump off and he'd be like 'I'm Sharkman!'
Taylor D: Robert would circle the little island in his pool and put his hand up above forming a fin.
Taylor L: Racer was like 'that would be cool if there was a superhero Sharkboy'.
Taylor D: And he needs a sidekick.
Taylor L: And they also played lava games where they couldn't touch the lava and they'd step on pillows and they came up with Lavagirl.
TeenHollywood: Rodriguez sounds like the coolest dad ever! (everyone agrees)
TeenHollywood: Cayden, you are playing Max so did you get to meet Racer?
Cayden: Yeah. His middle name is Max.
TeenHollywood: Are you anything like your character do you think?
Cayden: Well, I can't count how many times in the day my mom has to tell me 'focus', just stuff like that. Sometimes I used to draw little superheroes like Cosmic Man. I'm somewhat like Max.
TeenHollywood: What was Cosmic Man like?
Cayden: He was just a drawing. He could shoot little asteroids out of his hand and defy gravity and stuff like that.
TeenHollywood: Taylor (Sharkboy) are you a gymnast or something? You were flipping all over the place in the movie.
Taylor L: When I did the martial arts, none of it was on wires. I do this extreme martial arts stuff. It just takes the traditional martial arts where it's slow and strong, to the extreme where I do flips and all kinds of acrobatics and tricks. I've been doing it for six years but Robert didn't know I did the martial arts before he booked me. I was there and he saw a DVD of me and he asked me to choreograph my own fight scenes so I was like 'cool!'
TeenHollywood: Do you want to do lots of action movies when you are older?
Taylor L: If the martial arts helps in it, it would be good but I just want to be an actor and do whatever comes.
TeenHollywood: Did you choreograph yourself for your song sequence?
Taylor L: Robert came up with the song. He said 'here's this' and show me. He'd show me the lines and I basically just sang it. It was fun.
TeenHollywood: Do the two of you ever worry that you'll be compared to Alexa and Daryl from the Spy Kids movies?
Taylor D: People do say that a lot but I was never worried about it. They say that I look like Alexa or my character is like her but I'm still not worried about that. It's different. It's not like Spy Kids in any way.
Cayden: It's in 3-D like the last Spy Kids and that's the only thing that's the same. New characters, new places.
Taylor L: I think there's a lot more action in this film like in the fight scenes and it's funny because George Lopez is in it.
TeenHollywood: Was it fun working with George as your teacher and also the bad guy?
Taylor D: Yes, he's a riot! When we were doing the classroom scene, in the middle of the scene he'd start throwing paper wads at us. We'd all be trying to say our lines.
Taylor L: And you would see a paper wad go across the camera.
Taylor D: And Robert would say 'cut. George, please don't throw any more'. He'd do it again.
TeenHollywood: What did you think when you saw the finished movie with all the special effects. Were you stunned?
Cayden: Yeah, because you don't see anything when you're making it and then you see it and you're like 'oh my gosh, Robert and his son have great imaginations to think of that'.
Taylor D: Yeah. Literally 90 percent of it was filmed in front of a big green wall so, at first, we didn't know what it was going to look like.
TeenHollywood: What was the hardest thing to imagine?
Taylor L: Probably the Land of Milk and Cookies because all we had was a big cookie and we were just sitting on it.
Taylor D: Yeah. We're sitting on a giant cookie and it was moving.
Cayden: Imagining all that ice cream and cookies around us was hard.
TeenHollywood: After you saw the film, what was your favorite part of planet Drool?
All together: The Land of Milk and Cookies!
Cayden: And it was also hard to imagine the cookie giants or like the Train of Thought.
Taylor L: They actually made the front of a train and they had some seats in it. Then they made it longer (on film) and it was cool.
Taylor D: The whole inside was there and when they have all the gadgets you can pull on, that was all there but everything else was a green screen.
TeenHollywood: Did any of you ever have a bully picking on you in school?
Cayden: At my old school, I used to have a couple of kids picking on me.
Taylor L: Call Sharkie when you need him!
Cayden: That was before I knew Sharkboy or else I would have called him. That would have worked out great for me.
TeenHollywood: What will you do now when people recognize you on the street?
Taylor L: Usually the audience would be kids so you've got to be really nice to them.
Taylor D: It will be harder to recognize me because in the movie I have pink hair. Now I have brown hair.
TeenHollywood: And did you choose that hair color?
Taylor D: Well he (Robert) had a whole bunch of different hair colors lined up which he tried on someone on set. He kept dyeing their hair to see which hair color he liked the best and finally he picked one. But, in the very beginning, I shot it with my hair brown for at least two weeks and then he said 'your hair looks a lot better pink. Would you mind dyeing it?' Pink is my favorite color. I was happy but my mom was kind of like 'okay, what's going to happen if we dye your hair pink'?
Taylor L: She got some dirty looks from all the moms when we'd go to the mall and stuff.
TeenHollywood: Did you have to reshoot the dark hair scenes?
Taylor D: No. They did it digitally. They did their magic stuff.
TeenHollywood: Does anyone have a favorite superhero either in the movies or comic books?
Cayden: I love Sharkboy and Lavagirl.
Taylor L: I love the Spider-Man movies.
Taylor D: Definitely Spider-Man.
TeenHollywood: What's so special about Spider-Man?
Taylor L: I just think the movies are great, with the special effects and stuff. It's filmed in front of a blue screen too.
Taylor D: I just like Spider-Man. I don't know why, I just do. [We agree that he's cute].
TeenHollywood: Are you excited about Superman, Batman or The Fantastic Four coming up?
Taylor D: I want to see The Fantastic Four. That looks good.
TeenHollywood: Do you read comics?
Taylor D: I don't read superhero comics but I do read Archie comic books. I read those all the time. Those are my favorites.
TeenHollywood: What kind of music are you all into?
Taylor L: I don't have much time for music but my favorite bands are Outkast and Black Eyed Peas.
Taylor D: I have time for music I just don't really listen to it that much. My brother does. He's always playing music in his room. I just don't just sit in my room and listen to music. If I do I like any kind of pop music.
All the kids agree that they would love to do a sequel to their film and especially work again with Robert.
TeenHollywood: What past Robert Rodriguez films have you seen?
Taylor D: I've seen all the Spy Kids. I've seen Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
TeenHollywood: That last one is a pretty adult film. Don't tell me you've seen Sin City!
All of the kids say no!
Cayden: Maybe in a couple of years.
Taylor D: Try like twenty years. But I love all the Spy Kids movies.
TeenHollywood: Do you have any actor that you look up to and would like to have their career?
Taylor D: Natalie Portman is definitely mine.
Taylor L: David Arquette [who plays Max's dad in the film] is very polite. If you are walking out of an elevator, he'll be the last person to walk out. I respect that. And Robert is a star director and he's very, very humble. Same with his wife and I appreciate that. So, I look up to them.
Cayden: There's not really somebody I want to be like but some of the people I want to work with are Morgan Freeman and Tom Cruise definitely. I've always wanted to work with him like in The Last Samurai. I just loved that movie.
Taylor D: Julia Roberts is also really great. I want to work with her.
Cayden: (big grin) I want to work with her too! [We remind him that she's old enough to be his mom].
TeenHollywood: Do any of you have a special dream now?
Cayden: I want to go to college and go to Texas A&M. And I want to be a Marine and fly F-18s eventually.
Taylor D: I hope to have my acting career for a very long time but I'm an animal nut so I want to do stuff with animals. Not like the vet stuff.
Cayden: Or it would be really cool if you could work on "Animal Planet".
TeenHollywood: What does Sharkie want to do?
Taylor L: Well I was born and raised until eleven years old in Michigan so we're big Michigan Wolverine fans so I'd love to go [to college] in Michigan and I do lots of athletic stuff like football, baseball and the martial arts stuff but I want to be an actor, just see what happens.
TeenHollywood: Are you really friends? Will you remain friends?
Taylor D: Oh yeah. We live right next to each other practically. He lives in Burbank. We always see each other.
Cayden: We're always having sleepovers.
Lynn Barker is a Hollywood-based entertainment journalist and produced screenwriter.