There are less awkward birthdays a person could have than Valentine’s Day, but young British actor Freddie Highmore tries to not let it get to him.
“It’s all right, actually,” he says with a shy smile. “Maybe I’ll be wanting a card from that special person, and you just keep getting them from your family, like, ‘No, no, where’s her card?’ But it’s been all right so far.”
“All right so far” is an understatement when discussing the 17-year-old’s film career. After an early start in films like Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and August Rush, Highmore’s latest has him voicing the title character in Astro Boy, based on the popular, decades-old Japanese comic.
Stepping into such well-known rocket boots was more than a little daunting, Highmore admits: “You want to get it right.”
While admittedly not a comics fan, Highmore is no stranger to animation work, though he still finds the experience of working alone in a booth a bit odd.
“In the scenes when Astro Boy is flying around, I’d be — well, not flying, but jumping up and down and getting out of breath,” Highmore remembers.
“The couple of technicians in there might think you’re a little odd, but hopefully the millions of people who see the film will think it’s all right in the end.”
And though he’s starring alongside an impressive list of co-stars, including Bill Nighy, Nicolas Cage and Kristen Bell, he can’t exactly say he really worked with them.
“I met Kristen Bell when we came over for Comic Con, and she was very nice. But I hadn’t met her until after we finished filming,” he says. “But people have said we had great chemistry in the film.”
Highmore is no stranger to famous co-stars, having gotten his start alongside the likes of Johnny Depp and Russell Crowe, and he’s done his best to learn from them. “I’m not sure if there’s a moment where Johnny Depp sat down and said, ‘Try this in life’ or whatever. But I think that you just pick up things,” he says.
With his 18th birthday a few months away and his profile rising, Highmore is hoping to avoid the usual pitfalls of Young Hollywood. “You see these young kid actors grow up and go off the rails. I haven’t been caught up in any of that,” he says. “We get such a detached view of it because we’re quite a ways away in England.”