Thirteen-year-old Zachary Haven has been acting since pre-school, from commercials and print work, to Jimmy Kimmel sketches and countless shorts. Now this young actor is poised to make his make big break on the silver screen with Ed Helms and Owen Wilson in Father Figures. We’re happy to introduce you to this new talent as he shares what it was like working on his first big movie, his talent with swords, his charitable work and what he strives for next.
I read that you’ve been acting since you were five-years-old and made your television debut on The Vampire Diaries as “boy.” Now you’re co-starring in a major film with Ed Helms and Owen Wilson. As Virginia Slims famously said, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” What inspired you to start acting at such a young age and how did you get started?
I was at a friend’s house and we were watching a TV show. There was a behind the scenes commercial and that’s what inspired me to want to become an actor. It just looked so cool to be on set. As far as getting started–I was in the car with my mom and older brother–my mom was talking to my brother about what he wanted to be when he grew up and then she asked me and I told her I wanted to be on the big screen. She was shocked and then decided to put me in acting classes to see if I really liked it. I loved it and here we are!
In Father Figures you play Ed Helms son, with Wilson as your uncle and Glenn Close as your grandma. That’s quite the famous familial line-up. What was it like to work with these comedic co-stars? How did you come to get the role?
It was amazing working with them! They were so funny and they were also humble. They really made me feel like an equal. I actually auditioned for the role of Young Peter, but ended up getting to play the role of his son! I was really excited!
The movie has Helms and Wilson road-tripping it to literally answer the question, “Who’s your daddy?” It looks positively hilarious. Did you get a chance to stretch your comedic chops and was it ever difficult to keep a straight face opposite your co-stars?
Yes and yes! Working on this film allowed everyone to improvise with the script. We kind of just rolled with it. As far as having to keep a straight face, I had one scene with Ed where I was supposed to be mad and ignoring him. He just kept sitting there telling crazy jokes! I would bust out laughing as soon as they yelled cut!
This being your first big film, what lessons did you take away from the experience, either personally or professionally?
I learned that it was okay to improvise your scene. It’s not usually that way on TV shows. I also learned that it OK to just have fun. It doesn’t always need to be serious.
I understand one of your passions is philanthropic work. You’ve worked with Joy Makers Challenge, the LA Mission, GenerationOn, and you’re a big advocate for Alzheimer’s awareness. What drives your desire to give back and how has your charitable work impacted you and others?
My mom taught me at an early age that it is better to give than receive and I have learned through the years of volunteering that it is so true. I love seeing the kids faces that are in need when they receive something that we just take for granted. Alzheimer’s became close to me because it was a way I could honor my grandmother who just passed away from the disease.
Rumor has it you’re quite the swordsman. Where did that interest come from and have you had the opportunity yet to show your skills off on film?
I used to always play Nerf swords with my brother and when I found out there was a class that actually taught you how to use real swords, I had to take it. I haven’t had the opportunity to use it on screen as of yet, but maybe another Game of Thrones type show will come along and I can try then.
What do you hope to do next, it can be a specific TV show, genre of film, role, whatever? Let’s say you have a five-year wish list that you want to be able to check things off of—what’s on it?
I would love to be a voice actor in a video game as I am a huge gamer. I would also love to do more film work and becoming a series regular would’t be bad either!
Do you have any other upcoming projects you’d like to share with fans?
I have an indie film, Owen, coming out next year and I also have a couple things in the works, but nothing that I can share at the moment.
We’ve already learned about a few of your passions, but as we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us it’s only appropriate that we ask what you unabashedly geek out about?
Well then, you can bet that whenever a new update comes out for any of the video games that I play, I will be one of the first to send a text to all of my friends about it. I’m considered a nerd and avid gamer.