Jared Gilman was entering sixth grade at Newark Academy, a private day school in Livingston, when he received his first callback. Six months later, the young actor learned he had landed the juicy role of camper/romantic Sam Shakusky in Wes Anderson’s quirky coming-of-age comedy Moonrise Kingdom. Playing alongside Bill Murray, Bruce Willis and Tilda Swinton, he was catapulted to indie stardom. The scripts have been rolling in ever since.
“I like to think I am getting the best of both worlds,” says the astute 15-year-old. “I am having a great experience at Newark Academy, and I’m also having a great experience as an actor. I don’t know what else I could ask for.”
Gilman’s latest project, the independent comedy Two-Bit Waltz, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and will be released December 23 on DVD. Gilman’s new character, Bernie, is a wise-beyond-his-years teen who must ensure that his older sister Maude (Clara Mamet) stays in school and doesn’t lose herself in heartbreak or apathy. The film also stars William H. Macy and Rebecca Pidgeon.
When not flying to and from L.A. for auditions, Gilman stays busy hanging out with friends and playing on the varsity golf team. A self-described film nerd, he still gets star-struck at times. Walking the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival, Gilman felt like “a kid in a candy store.” And, he adds, “this kid is, like, a candy fanatic.”