Though only 11, Luke Benward is already a Hollywood veteran. When he was five, he appeared alongside Mel Gibson in “We Were Soldiers,” and more recently had a part in “Because of Winn-Dixie.” He’s now starring in “How to Eat Fried Worms,” the first big-screen adaptation of the beloved children’s book. Luke–followed by his mom, Kenda, herself an actress–spoke to Beliefnet about the life of a child actor and what being Christian means to the family.
What, in particular, do you like about the “How to Eat Fried Worms”?
I really like how he makes friends with all the boys, even on–even some of the people on Joe’s team and he has bravery to stand up to the bully.
What is the movie’s lesson or message?
If you don’t stand up to your fears, have bravery, loyalty, and you don’t have friends, you’ll never win. You’ll never feel better about yourself.
There are some parents who complain about this story, and the book sometimes gets taken out of school libraries because of the gross factor of them eating worms. How do you feel about that?
Well, how I feel about that is I’d rather not people, after they see this movie, go home, find a worm on the ground and eat it.
What would you say about the movie that’s coming out to people who say, “Oh, I read the book, why would I want to see the movie, also”?
Well, the movie is quite different from the book. The book has less characters. There’s not a girl. He ends–in the book, he ends up liking worms, but in the movie, he ends up hating the worms. And also, he doesn’t have a little brother in the book. And in the movie, he does. And in the book, it’s 10 worms in one day and not 15 worms in 15 days.
How did you first get into acting?
When I was little, my mom was an actress, and she still is now, and she’d go on commercial auditions, and if they needed a mom and a son, she’d take me along, and that’s how I got started.
And then, my first movie, “We Were Soldiers”–I was in kindergarten, and I was five, and my mom took me out of school and she brought me to the audition of it. And I wasn’t ready at all. I didn’t know any of the lines. And I just went in there, said the Pledge of Allegiance, and I said my citizenship pledge from kindergarten class. They thought I was so cute, so they hired me.
What was it like working on that movie? Did you work with Mel Gibson?
Yeah, he was awesome. He was so cool. First day, I wrestled with him. And, you know, my mom was really embarrassed. But, he has kids, so he’s used to it. And also, during lunch, he didn’t sit with like the casting director and the director. He sat with us kids at the kids’ table and showed us magic tricks.
Have you kept up with him at all?
No, not really. I haven’t talked to him.
What’s your favorite movie?
Oh, man, my favorite movie. You know, I really like “Passion of the Christ.” I like that movie. I also like “We Were Soldiers,” and “Braveheart.” And “Napoleon Dynamite”–that movie was funny.
What was it about “Passion of the Christ” that you liked so much?
I’m a Christian, and I just like the story. I liked what Mel did with it.