CSM: 'Super 8' star Joel Courtney talks about his debut film and J.J. Abrams

The Christian Science Monitor has a long article about Joel Courtney. Here's an excerpt:

When J.J. Abrams set out to find the young adult leads of Super 8, his homage to the beloved Amblin films of the early 1980s (such as E.T. and The Goonies) he wanted to find (according to the film’s press release) “fresh faces that the audience could have fun discovering.” He couldn’t have found a fresher face than that of his star Joel Courtney.

Joel, an Idaho native, was visiting his brother Caleb in Los Angeles for his summer vacation and taking auditions with this hopes of booking (maybe) one commercial and making a hundred dollars. “That was my goal,” the young star told us in our interview at the Los Angeles press event for Super 8.

Courtney far exceed his relatively modest goal when his acting coach suggested he go in and see her protege Jason James, who was conducting a nation wide search for the kids ofSuper 8“Apparently I did really well,” the young actor reflected, “because they had me come back like eleven times. And then I kept getting acting coaches to help me through.”

Courtney’s innate charm and refreshingly artless manner won Abrams and producer Steven Spielberg over and landed him the staring role in one of this summers biggest and most highly-anticipated films. As early reviews have indicated, this newcomer’s performance is a stand-out as one of the most compelling aspects of the film. As we mentioned in our Super 8 early reviews and impressions piece, his is a bit of genuine casting magic.

Casting a first-time actor as the lead in his film is in line with J.J. Abrams’ (career consistent) desire to surprise audiences and create a sense of mystery. We have no preconceived notions about Joel Courtney before we meet him as his character Joe Lamb. Abrams is a self-proclaimed believer in the idea of “the mystery box,” the notion that audiences, “are most compelled by an unseen mystery, and that a movie should have all the potent unpredictability of an unopened box, out of which absolutely anything could emerge.”

Joel Courtney