Entertainment News Wire: ‘Super' star

From the Entertainment News Wire:

Like a lot of aspiring young actors, Joel Courtney arrived in L.A. from a small town with modest hopes of landing a TV commercial gig and perhaps earning a few bucks in spending money. The Moscow, Idaho native had been taking acting classes for about six months and figured, at the very least, he could spend some quality time last summer with his older brother, Caleb, who had moved to Hollywood a few years earlier in hopes of realizing his dreams.

The 14-year-old middle school student wasn't quite sure exactly what he was in for when his acting coach pointed him to an audition in L.A. for a movie role. It turned out to be a Very Big Opportunity.

As he soon discovered, Courtney was auditioning for the lead role in a movie produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by J.J. Abrams. It wasn't exactly small potatoes. Of course, given the secrecy surrounding the project, it took a while for the youngster to figure out what he had lucked into, because so much of the audition process was cloaked in secrecy.

"I'd heard rumors that J.J. was attached to it but I wasn't positive because the code name for the auditions was 'Little Darlings,' and I thought that sounded really weird," says the brown-eyed actor, now 15.

After several callbacks, Courtney figured out he was auditioning for the part of Joe Lamb, a middle schooler who, while shooting a homemade zombie movie with his friends, witnesses an incredible event in his small Ohio town. Set in 1979, "Super 8," which is named for the type of film camera used by the amateur moviemakers, recalls such Spielberg classics as "E.T.: The Extra-terrestrial," "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "The Goonies."

"I signed about 75 secrecy forms," the youngster recalls. "They even mailed forms home to my mom, my brother and sister for them to sign."

Somehow, the teenager managed to keep the big secret from his friends, teachers and extended family members. It wasn't until a commercial for "Super 8" aired on the Super Bowl earlier this year that he finally revealed to his best friend what he had done last fall.

Joel Courtney