5 Things to Know About 'Demolition' Breakout Judah Lewis
The 14-year-old actor tells THR about drumming up spontaneous Jake Gyllenhaal dance breaks, testing for the 'Spider-Man' reboot and eyeing an impactful career.
In Jean-Marc Vallee’s Demolition, Jake Gyllenhaal is accompanied in a wall-breaking search for authenticity by Judah Lewis, playing the son of Karen (Naomi Watts). The Hollywood Reporter calls Lewis a “terrific young newcomer” who is “spot-on as a tweenager who’s both cocky and utterly vulnerable.”
The 14-year-old — admittedly nervous, but so poised and well-spoken for his first big press junket in New York City — told THR of his troublemaking, heartwarming character, “Chris has put up all these walls, and that’s the hard exterior we see, but inside, he’s a sweet kid. He’s confused and trying to find himself, not what society wants him to be. Everyone has gone through the question of identity, and Chris sticks to his guns, in a way, and decides to be himself. I hope viewers see that.”
Lewis, who also appeared in last year’s Point Break remake from Alcon and next will lead a McG flick, has ambitions and hobbies that already have been helpful on set. As Demolition hits theaters, here are five things to know about Lewis.
He tested for the Spider-Man reboot.
After seeing more than 1,500 actors for the part of Peter Parker, Marvel and Sony narrowed the list of fresh-faced contenders for the new trilogy to six, with Lewis being one of the youngest. The role went to the 19-year-old British actor Tom Holland. Asa Butterfield, Matthew Lintz, Charlie Plummer and Charlie Rowe were also in the running. “There’s definitely something to be learned about the hugeness of the industry. That process was incredibly large, and the size was something I had yet to experience.”
He wants an impactful career.
Lewis, who has been acting in his parents' theater company since he was 4, is just getting started with screen projects, but he hopes to follow the career arc of Eddie Redmayne. “I appreciate the roles he takes, and the projects he associates himself with make an impact,” he said of the Theory of Everything and The Danish Girl star. “That’s the power of film: It can change somebody’s view on something.”
He has a mean swing.
Lewis’ first day of shooting was the demolition itself, with Vallee operating the camera. “I walked on set and was handed a sledgehammer,” he laughed. “Everything is real — there isn’t a single piece of breakaway glass, the countertops aren’t fake — so we only had one shot.” Luckily, Lewis plays baseball, so he had no problem bashing walls and electronics for two full days. “It was all very safe, but I was sore the next day!”
He’s a drummer and can improvise.
Though the actor admits he can’t dance, another musical ability spurred one of the film’s memorable moments. “Jean-Marc is spur-of-the-moment, and that’s part of what’s so great about working with him,” said Lewis, who was fooling around with a drum set, intended as a prop in the garage, during a break. “That scene happened on the day — there happened to be a drum set on set, ‘Mr. Big’ by Free was playing, and Jake just started dancing wildly. This entire moment opened up that wasn’t planned — we were just grooving and seeing what happens — but it became a cool bonding moment for our characters.”
He’s taking the lead.
The breakout actor just wrapped production on The Babysitter, McG’s “coming-of-age horror” film with Bella Thorne. “It’s my first lead role, which is exciting! It’s a thriller with a little drama and comedy, so there’s something for everyone.”