Nine-year-old Zackary Arthur began his career at the age of six, appearing in dozens of short films and commercials, including ones for Honda, Toys R Us, Kaiser, Rabbids Invasion, Burlington Coat Factory and voice-over spots for Build-A-Bear. In 2014, he joined the cast of the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning Amazon series Transparent, playing a character who was also named Zack. His other credits include a guest spot on the show Best Friends Whenever as well as the role of Will in the TV movie The Half of It. Moreover, Zack can soon be seen in the new web series PALS, in which he plays the PALS club president alongside his brother. The series is currently in post-production.
In addition to acting, Arthur’s other talents include singing, dancing, climbing trees and drawing. He also considers himself an avid reader and loves sports. When he grows up, Arthur aspires to be a filmmaker as well as an actor. In order to hone his talents, he continues to attend Gray Acting Studios.
However, it seems as if Arthur’s training is already paying off. On January 15, Arthur will make his major film debut as Sam Sullivan in the highly-anticipated movie The 5th Wave, starring opposite Chloe Grace Moretz. I recently had the pleasure of chatting with the young and talented Zackary Arthur about his upcoming role in The 5th Wave, his love for Robin Williams and how hard it was to learn how to ice skate. Check it out below!
How did you get started acting?
Well, I memorized this song and I memorized it really good, so my mom decided to have me audition for an agent and I got it! (laughs). So I did my first commercial and it was for Burlington Coat Factory.
Were you nervous?
No…I was only nervous about the ice-skating part. I did like ice-skating, though.
Had you ever been ice-skating before doing the commercial?
No, so it was a lot of fun! (laughs).
I can imagine! I’ve never been ice skating before so I can imagine it would be pretty hard.
Yeah, it was a lot of work. I fell a few times but it was a lot of fun.
As an actor, who would you consider your biggest role model?
Robin Williams, Shirley Temple, someone like that! I look up to those people. They’re so funny!
Those are excellent choices!
I love Robin Williams! I’ve probably seen every one of his movies.
He’s so funny! And I love the scene where he says in that funny voice “I’m a raptor/ Doin’ what I can/ Gonna eat everything til the appearance of man/ Yo yo yo! See me/ Living below the soil/ I’ll be back but I’m coming as oil.” That’s my favorite part!
That’s very good! So, when you auditioned for “The 5th Wave,” what was it like?
I was a little nervous because it was my first time auditioning for a huge, awesome role like Sammy, but when I auditioned, I got really comfortable with the casting directors and they were really nice! My mom also bought the book so that I could see what the character is like and read about him, stuff like that. My mom would tell me parts of the story, the parts where I had a scene in it. She read it in only one night, and I was pretty impressed by that!
So, you were familiar with the first book; were you also familiar with the second and third one?
Just the second. The third one hasn’t come out yet, but I’m going to get it as soon as it comes out! It has Sammy’s point of view in it, so people can learn a little bit more about me and how I feel about things!
Out of the two books, which is your favorite?
The first, because in the first book, I like how Cassie is separated from her brother and she’s struggling to find me again and she finds Ben. Then, in the second one, me and Ben are together a lot. The second one has more action!
So, where were you when you first heard that you got the part of Sammy?
I was in this shop with my dad and my brother, and when my mom called–because my manager called my mom–and she told me that I was going to be in the movie, I was so excited! So excited! I jumped up and down! It had been three months since I had auditioned, maybe two and a half months, and it was such a long time that we were wondering if I got the part or not. But, I got really lucky and I got it! And Sammy’s like me. We are the same type of boy. He likes the same stuff as me, and even though he doesn’t have a brother–well, he kind of has a brother–but, besides that, Sammy doesn’t really have a brother, but I have a brother.
Is he older or younger than you?
He is older than me. He’s ten. And he’s in acting, too! He plays baseball and he’s an actor, too! My mom made this web series called “PALS” and my brother was in it with me, as well as my friends Anthony and Addie, and some other people.
Have you had a chance to see “The 5th Wave” in its entirety yet?
Not yet, but my mom has! I’m going in a few days.
Do you think it’s going to be weird seeing yourself on the big screen?
Kind of, I guess. It’s going to be a lot of fun to see it though. Everybody that I made friends with during the movie is going to be there, so I’m really looking forward to seeing it.
You mentioned that Sammy is a lot like you. How would you describe him?
He has a big heart, just like me. I have a big heart for my animals, and I think he does, too. He has a sister and I have a sister; he loves his sister and I love my sister. I hate it when my sister has to go to college all the time.
Would you say that his big heart is what you like most about him?
Yeah, and that he’s a good person. He tries to be very brave. He’s just a really nice boy, even though some people in this movie aren’t very nice to him. But, in real life, everybody is really nice!
What were your favorite scenes to shoot?
Two scenes: one with Chloe, where she’s singing, and one where I got to hang from a rope and jump over a bunch of things. That was so much fun.
What was the hardest part about playing Sammy?
Probably the part where I had to cry because it was a big part of the movie. There were a bunch of kids around and it was loud and there were a bunch of cameras, too. And it’s hard to cry on cue sometimes.
Do you have any tricks that you use to get yourself to cry on cue?
Looking at my dogs, watching “ET” and “Old Yeller”–stuff like that.
Besides acting, what do you like to do?
Well, besides acting, I like to ride my bike. I like to pet my dogs and play with my dogs. I play soccer and baseball and basketball. I really like playing baseball with my brother because we’re always on the same team, and I love getting to be on his team. But, I would say that I enjoy acting just as much as baseball. I also like to cook, and I love to read. I probably love to read more than I like acting or baseball! But I love acting.