Hollywood courting young actors

Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:33am EDT
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By Borys Kit

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Who says youth is wasted on the young? As Hollywood gears up to shoot nearly a dozen projects aimed at the under-25 set, young actors and actresses are at the top of casting directors' lists.

DreamWorks is in full-on casting mode for "I Am Number Four," based on the young-adult sci-fi adventure book by James Frey and Jobie Hughes. The role of the title character, an alien teen attending an American high school, already has gone to 20-year-old Alex Pettyfer. And the studio and director D.J. Caruso are in the midst of filling the parts of other high school kids for a shoot that begins next month.

Meanwhile, Andrew Niccol is "meeting everybody" for his sci-fi movie "I'm.mortal," in which adults and teens look identical in a world where no one appears older than 21. The film is eyeing a summer start.

Hollywood always has been youth-obsessed, but interest in teen-oriented pics has tended to be cyclical as titles like "American Pie" and "Scream" have come and gone. The current, heightened demand for fresh faces can be traced to several factors, exemplified by a couple of films: The tween-swooney "Twilight" and, though it had nothing to do with teens itself, "The Hangover."

The success of "Twilight" has convinced studios that movies starring young'uns will work in any genre -- not just gothic romance -- if cast astutely and marketed shrewdly.

Lionsgate's "Kick-Ass," an adaptation of a comic book, could test that proposition when it opens Friday. It is one of the year's most buzzed-about movies even though its cast is headed by two new-to-the-scene actors: 20-year-old Brit Aaron Johnson and 13-year-old newcomer Chloe Moretz.

Meanwhile, last summer's "Hangover" only underscored the idea that movie stars aren't necessarily required for a pic to become a runaway hit. "Why pay people who don't open movies?" one agent asks.

At the same time, aspiring stars can't just walk into the parts now up for grabs. As they go through the audition process, relatively inexperienced actors are finding they have to bring their A-game to land a part in big movies directed by A-listers with substantial budgets and franchise prospects.   Continued...

<p>Actor Robert Pattinson reacts during a promotion tour for his latest film "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" in Munich November 14, 2009. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle</p>