Remember Gabriel Basso’s name. At only 16 years of age, the Chesterfield native is quickly moving up the ranks of young Hollywood. He plays Laura Linney’s son on the hit Showtime series, The Big C, and currently stars as the bespectacled Martin in the J.J. Abrams-directed, Steven Spielberg-produced blockbuster, Super 8, now in theaters.
Basso’s sisters, Alexandria and Annalise, also act and model, and the family maintains roots in St. Louis while their careers take them all over the country. LN caught up with Basso during a break in filming The Big C’s second season, which begins on June 27.
LN: HOW DID YOU GET INTO ACTING?
GB: Well, my first role was the whale in my sixth grade play, but I really wanted to get into acting after I saw the check my sister got for a commercial when she went out to Los Angeles. I was getting paid $10 to rake leaves and shovel snow, but acting seemed a little more profitable!
LN: HAS THE TRANSITION FROM ST. LOUIS TO HOLLYWOOD BEEN DIFFICULT?
GB: It’s actually been pretty smooth because we haven’t moved permanently away from Missouri. I spend the majority of my time in L.A. and go to school there, but I go back to St. Louis for visits and family reunions, and I fly my friends out to California to visit me.
LN: SUPER 8 IS YOUR FIRST MAJOR MOTION PICTURE ROLE—HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE?
GB: It was incredible. You audition for movies like Super 8 and you don’t really expect to book a Spielberg/Abrams film, so when I did, it was kind of a shock. J.J. made it a great set to work on. There is a lot of CGI involved, so he really guided us and helped us imagine scary moments even where there was just a green screen behind us.
LN: THE FILM CENTERS AROUND A GROUP OF FRIENDS SHOOTING THEIR OWN MOVIE, WHEN STRANGE THINGS START HAPPENING IN THEIR TOWN. DID YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH OTHER YOUNG ACTORS?
GB: It was really cool because none of them had developed any egos yet. It was nice to catch them before they become really famous. J.J. made it really comfortable for Joel (Courtney) and Riley (Griffiths) because it was their first roles, and it was a good learning experience for all of us. I think it’s going to be a classic film like Goonies or E.T.
LN: ANY GOOD STORIES FROM THE SET?
GB: A couple days before I wrapped, I stole a golf cart. It’s a known fact that if there’s a golf cart with the keys in it, you take it. I drove it over to where we were playing football and we played for about two minutes before three assistant directors ran up and started yelling at me.
LN: ON THE BIG C, YOU GET TO WORK WITH ACTORS LIKE LAURA LINNEY, WHO WON A GOLDEN GLOBE FOR HER ROLE ON THE SHOW. WHAT IS THAT LIKE?
GB: It’s inspiring because you watch them and see their talent, and think, Hey, I’m going to be like that one day. It motivates you to become a better actor, and when you act with them, you can pull from their emotions and energy. It has provided me a great learning curve.
LN: WHO WOULD YOU LIKE TO WORK WITH IN THE FUTURE?
GB: I’d love to work with James Cameron—the movies he does are so ingenious and imaginative. It’s really neat to see what he does on a screen.
LN: HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED YOUR INCREASING FAME?
GB: I’m still just soaking it all in. It hasn’t been too overwhelming because I’ve taken steps between each new project, moving from small films and TV roles to The Big C, and now Super 8. Whatever happens from there, will be great. LN