Watching Vanishing On 7th Street and seeing Jacob Latimore play “James” was like watching a true veteran child actor…but I wasn’t. I was watching a relative rookie to the acting profession. With only some voice over , television commercials and a one episode stint on One Tree Hill, Latimore is a definite new comer. That wasn’t present, though, when he showed up for open casting in Detroit where his confidence and sensitivity got him the role over thousands, many with more experience.
Director Brad Anderson (Sessions 9, The Machinist and Transsiberian) felt that Latimore could deliver a more sincere role. “None of the actors were as compelling or strong,” said Anderson, “his character is a linchpin in the movie and we needed someone who seemed like a survivor.” That was evident in Jacob’s acting during some intense scenes. When asked where he drummed-up some of the feelings for those scenes, he said, “I would imagine something tragic happening to a family member of mine.” Family is important to him and he is very close to his parents, to which he credits for introducing him to the stage at a young age via music. Talking with Jacob, you really get the feel that you are talking to a very humble young man still excited about the little things. When he was first told about the actors he would be working with in Vanishing On 7th Street — (Hayden Christensen, John Leguizamo and Thandie Newton) he said, “I’m not good with names. Then I saw their faces and got excited.” Pointing to his green-ness, but it’s a green-ness I find refreshing.
IA: What was it like filming in Detroit?
JL: It was amazing. It was my first time there and I was excited. I have family members there so it was a lot of fun. I basically moved to Detroit for two months.
IA: Since you are originally from Milwaukee, was it easy to relate to your character, James, a kid from the mid-west?
JL: Definitely, It made it seem more real.
IA: You and Hayden Christensen have similar backgrounds, both having had your start in TV commercials and coming from not-your-typical show- business hometowns. Was he able to offer any advice or encouragement on set?
JL: Yeah, I would ask him, “Is there anything I should be doing differently? He would say,” You’re doing good.” He was real cool and made me feel comfortable.
JL: At first it was, but then everyone made me feel comfortable.
IA: What was your ‘acting’ experience prior to Vanishing On 7th Street?
JL: I’ve done voice-over work, commercials, and an episode of One Tree Hill. I just finished shooting an episode of House of Payne and that will be out in a few months.
IA: Are you living in Atlanta now? Did that move jump-start your career?
JL: Yeah, I moved to Atlanta a few years ago and it definitely helped my career. House of Payne is filmed there and my studio is there.
IA: Since you are a musician and dancer you have to take cues from producers and choreographers. Was it any different taking direction from director Brad Anderson?
JL: No , not that different. But performing on stage and acting [instigate] two different emotions. With “Vanishing,” I had to act scared and there was crying. But it gave me an adrenaline rush.
IA: How was working with a comedian like John Leguizamo? Did he do anything funny on set?
JL: Not really. He stayed in character the whole two months. When he gave interviews he was in character.
IA: Did you fall into ‘becoming your character’ during the six weeks of filming?
JL: Not the whole time. It was my first movie, so after the scene I would be like, “Yeah!” I was the hyper one on set.
JL: I don’t have any set dates but I hope to collaborate with him again and many more artists.
IA: What’s coming up next for you, musically?
JL: I just released a music video with Diggy called, “Like’Em All” and I have another song releasing on Diggy Simmons album. I am also working on my own album, too.
IA: Do you do most of your recording in Atlanta?
JL: Yeah, definitely. There is a lot of musical inspiration.
IA: Your music has been on Radio Disney. Any chance you might go the Disney route?
JL: No . I don’t think so. I want that fan base though.
IA: You think it might close some doors for you?
JL: Yeah, just a little bit.
IA: Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?
JL: My Dad. He sings and my whole family sings. Pretty much my family is my inspiration. And definitely Michael Jackson, too.
IA: Who got you started in music?
JL: My dad. My family and my mom. She worked at Sony. I started studying The Temptations. My favorite group is B2K. The more I became involved in music, the more I fell in love with it and it. Music was definitely something I wanted to do and pursue.
IA: What are you listening to on your iPod?
JL: Justin Bieber, Willow, Chris Brown and Usher. People around my age.
IA: Do you do your choreography?
JL: No , Todd Simms does the choreography. He used to do the choreography for Usher and Chris Brown.
IA: I have to ask since Vanishing On 7th Street touches on human’s primal fear of the dark. Are you afraid of the dark?
JL: Not afraid. But sometimes you turn off the light and you hear things and your eyes play tricks on you. But I’m not afraid.
IA: Did the movie freak you out at all?
JL: At first it did. I didn’t know how scary it would be.
After talking with Jacob Latimore, I really get the sense that I was talking to a young adult with a huge future, whether it be in music or film. His acting is so real in the movie you forget his rookie status. Jacob is very composed and professional but his youthful joy and honesty keep him real. Music got him where he is today and maybe acting will take him where he wants to go. I don’t think Jacob Latimore’s career will be vanishing any time soon.