The House with A Clock in its Walls’ young lead, Owen Vaccaro, may only just breaking through in his acting career, but the young actor has already starred alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names. Taking on the role of Mark Wahlberg’s son Dylan in Daddy’s Home and its sequel, he went on to star in Mother’s Day alongside the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts and Kate Hudson. In Eli Roth’s latest dark and polished ghoulish adventure, Vaccaro gets to dabble in magic alongside Jack Black and Cate Blanchett, not a bad start for the budding actor.
Based on the beloved children’s classic written by John Bellairs and illustrated by Edward Gorey and directed by Eli Roth, The House with A Clock in its Walls tells the spine-tingling tale of 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro) who goes to live with his uncle in a creaky old house with a mysterious tick-tocking heart. But his new town’s sleepy façade jolts to life with a secret world of warlocks and witches when Lewis accidentally awakens the dead.
We sat down with the lively and energetic Vacarro to talk about his experiences on the set of the film.
The film is a lot of fun, but it’s also rather dark in places too. What were your first reactions to reading those darker scenes?
I was so excited. Eli [Roth] really helped me get through some of those darker scenes because of all the other movies he has done that are way darker. But I was so excited, especially that one scene with the robots that was fun.
Your character of Lewis reminded me of Young Sheldon, in the way he was dressed and his vast knowledge of vocabulary. Was there any inspiration taken from that character?
I don’t think Young Sheldon because the book was written in 1973 (I think), 1974 maybe. He was based on this one person named Truman something, I forget the last name. He was based on someone though.
Lewis wants to follow in his Uncle Jonathan’s footsteps and become a Warlock – how much did you actually know about them and how much did you have to actually learn?
I didn’t really have to learn the origins of magic and stuff, I already knew what a Warlock was. Probably, I should have done some studying. At the very beginning, they gave me like a book, like three inches thick of just pages, full of the history of magic from BC, -300 to now.
You’ve worked on Daddy’s Home before, but this is seen as your big breakthrough. Even though you’ve worked with some big names before, what was it like working with Jack Black and Cate Blanchett?
It was so much fun. They are such great people and great at what they do. Acting itself is already so much fun but they made it just so much better. I did my studying, For Cate I watched Cinderella; she did an amazing job as the Stepmother. For Jack, I watched School of Rock. We had sporadic dance parties, we had everything.
Let’s talk about the actual set of the House, it’s a Gothic mansion that looked spooky but its contents where a lot of fun. What parts were actually real?
We were filming in a real house; we were filming in the Candler Mansion in Georgia, where the creator of Coke’s son lives. What’s really creepy about that house… OK, I’m going to tell you a little ghost story. The son used to own Giraffes and Lions; we think a goat as well as there is a goat spirit that lives there. Me and Travis, the editor, went behind the big giant staircase into a hall and swung a right into another room. It said on the wall, where are the ashes? It was so creepy. I’m hoping it wasn’t the ashes of the giraffes as I love giraffes.
I loved the evil pumpkins but I want one of those dog-like chairs, where you able to take something from the set as a keepsake?
There is a certain cuckoo clock, which also has a little story. There was a certain cuckoo clock that I really loved. I’m hoping it gets a couple of views during the movie so I can say I HAVE THAT CUCKOO CLOCK because I took it home at the end. But what was really funny about it, was Jack [doing his best Jack Black impersonation] Oh and which one of these clocks is your favourite and I said, of course, it’s this one. I don’t know why I just like it. He says, oh you mean this one, pointing to it and it just went off.
The House with a Clock in its Walls is out in cinemas September 21