For Dylan Minnette, landing a leading role in Columbia Pictures' “Goosebumps” movie was a dream come true. The 18-year-old actor grew up an avid reader of the Goosebumps books, written by best-selling children’s author R.L. Stine, and now features as the young male lead in the big-screen adaptation, starring opposite Jack Black.
“I loved them,” Minnette says of the books, which have achieved sales of more than 400 million, worldwide. “I feel like `Goosebumps' inspired me to read more because they were exhilarating and fun. Also, they introduced me to horror at a young age, which I'm a huge fan of now.”
The young actor, who says he’s read at least 30 different books from the hit series, is keen to point out that the movie adaptation is not a horror movie. It’s more an action-packed adventure that happens to feature a host of iconic monsters.
“The movie is funny,” he explains, “and it’s scary and exhilarating, and that’s what I liked as a kid. I feel like the books introduced me to a whole new world. And, later on in life, I still always look back to `Goosebumps.' It had a big impact on my childhood.”
The chances are that “Goosebumps” could have a big impact on his adulthood, too. The movie, which is directed by Rob Letterman (“Shark Tale,” “Monsters vs Aliens,” “Gulliver’s Travels”), is eagerly anticipated and has built a big buzz among “Goosebumps” aficionados and film fans alike.
Minnette takes on the role of Zach Cooper, a high school student who is struggling to cope with small-town life after a move from the big city. He cheers up, however, when he meets the beautiful girl next door, Hannah (Odeya Rush). Every silver lining has a cloud, however, and Zach’s newfound happiness comes under threat when he learns that Hannah’s mysterious dad is in fact R.L. Stine (Jack Black), the author of the bestselling “Goosebumps” series.
As Zach learns more and more about the family next door, he discovers that the creatures from Stine’s stories are real, and that the author keeps the creatures locked up in their books. When Stine’s creations are accidentally released from their manuscripts, Zach is thrown into a night of adventure in which he, Hannah and their friend Champ (Ryan Lee) are pitted against a host of famous monsters.
“There is this thing called the Bog Monster,” says Minnette when he recalls the creatures from the movie. “Also, there are big scarecrows, mummies, big Jack O’Lanterns, vampires and there’s the Creeps, which real fans should enjoy. Also, the Graveyard Ghouls are very cool. They were played by actual actors from The Walking Dead, who had already acted as zombies.”
The Ghouls come courtesy of the Goosebumps book “Attack of the Graveyard Ghouls,” and they’re joined on screen by any number of creatures. Stine has published over 350 books and a whole host of his iconic creations are rendered into movie form, whether it’s the aforementioned Bog Monster from “You Can't Scare Me!,” “The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena” from the book of the same name, or even Murder the Clown from “When the Ghost Dog Howls.”
In fact, Minnette remembers the latter all too well. “The guy who played Murder the Clown was in character all the time,” he recalls of the shoot. “He’d be sitting in the corner staring at us constantly. We never actually knew if we were in danger, or what was going on.” He laughs. “We were like, ‘Hey! Why are you being so weird, man?’ Then as soon as he was out of the make up, he seemed like a nice, regular guy. I guess he was being Method!”
As well as enjoying the monsters, Minnette also got on well with his co-stars and says that the films’ leading adult actor, Black, made all the young cast feel like equals.
“It is obvious that Jack has worked with younger people before,” he says. “The three of us are all kids and he definitely found a way to be so good with us. He made us feel very equal, as though we were all doing the same thing, and that made our job a lot easier. He is great. Rob [Letterman] and Jack were like our parents,” he adds with a smile.
Minnette’s own, real-life parents have been very supportive, too, allowing their son to flourish on screen from an early age, while also making sure his feet remain set firmly on the ground. The actor is a well-spoken, humble and intelligent young man with a number of interests, including music. He sings and plays in a band called the Narwhals.
“I’ve matured a lot quicker because I’ve been working around adults since I was eight years old,” he says of his life in the entertainment industry. “I am used to working around adults all the time. I feel like I learned a lot of social skills from that. I’m super-thankful. It helped me grow up at the right time.”
Minnette hails from Evansville, Indiana, and made his move into performance when a convention came to town looking for young actors and models. Minnette attended and, while he was there, secured an agent in Chicago who landed his first gigs, in commercials and print advertising. By the time he was eight, he was auditioning for jobs in LA. His first TV role was an episode of “Drake & Josh.”
He then went on to enjoy a recurring role in the TV shows “Prison Break” and “Saving Grace.” He also appeared in the films “Let Me In,” “Labor Day” and Disney’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” One of his career highlights, meanwhile, was working with Jake Gyllenhaal on “Prisoners.”
“He is such a good actor and such a cool guy,” beams Minnette. “He is so laid back and he doesn’t bask in Hollywood life. If I were to continue on with acting as my main thing, I think I’d want to do it like he does. And I’d love to be like Jack Black.”
Working with Black on “Goosebumps” was a real thrill, he says, and if the film invites a sequel, Minnette would love to return for more. “I hope there is a sequel and I hope I am in it because I am such a big fan. I feel I could put a lot of my heart into a sequel.”
Opening across the Philippines in Oct. 21, 2015, “Goosebumps” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.