Brenden Jefferson: An Old Hand at Acting
Q: How did the audition process go for the role of X-Ray?
Birthdate: June 3, 1986
Home: San Bernardino, California
Family: only child
TV Show: The Simpsons, Even Stevens, Dragonball Z
Movie: Little Nemo (and about a hundred others!)
Music: clean rap, R&B, hip-hop, pop, trance, house, dance. Anything fast!
Brenden Jefferson: The very first time I went in, they immediately gave me the script and I read it. I kind of delved into the character, just to see what he was about. Then I went for another callback, and they called me back a third time to see the director and the rest of the producers. At that point, I think the producers were impressed with what I had given them and they kind of told me that I was good for the part. They ended up calling my agent and letting me know what was going on.
Q: When I was interviewing Khelo Thomas he said that there were, at any given time, 10 or a dozen Zeros in the auditioning process. Was it the same for your character?
Brenden Jefferson: What happened was, after all the callbacks were done we had a screen test. Even at that screen test there were multiple people for the same role. But, by the time they got around to me, I was the only one doing the screen test for X-Ray. So I think they had multiple Zeros, multiple Magnets, multiple Squids; but the X-Rays, they made up their mind with me.
Q: Did you guys pull pranks on each other?
Brenden Jefferson: We didn't really pull pranks, but the thing was, as in the books, we were actually in a desert.
to Brenden's explanation of life in the desert.
Q: And you guys all did this as a group?
Brenden Jefferson: Yeah. Stanley [La BeoufCaveman] ended up coming in about a week into it because he had to finish up Even Stevens the movie.
Q: Is that when you got to know the other guys?
Brenden Jefferson: That's around the time when we first formed the group, and we first saw each other and got along with each other. Shia I've known for years, as a matter of fact, even before his Even Stevens show. I knew him from a movie years before that, because this is about my 75th job. So, most of the people that are my age I already know, either from working with them or auditioning, or whatever it may be.
Q: How long were you actually in the desert?
Brenden Jefferson: The physical training was for three weeks. Then we went to Ridgecrest for five weeks, and then we came back to the Disney ranch for about one or two weeks.
Q: Where is the ranch?
Brenden Jefferson: It's about… Magic Mountain. Near Santa Clarita, California.
Q: That's a lot of time to spend in the desert. I think that would make me bug out!
Brenden Jefferson: It was fun. Where I live, when it gets hot up here, it gets hot, like, you know, 90 degrees sometimes. It can get to 100 up here but, you know, I don't mind.
Q: Do you still hang out with any of the guys from the movie?
Brenden Jefferson: We talk on the phone. You know, we're all busy working with this movie and other different things, but we have exchanged numbers. I've talked to Shia. He's off doing something else already.
Q: Did you read the book before you got the role?
Brenden Jefferson: Yeah.
Q: Is there something you wish they had left in the movie that they took out?
Brenden Jefferson: Whatever came out on screen, I'm happy with. We literally did a whole 5 to 10 rehearsals before we even started filming. As an actor I kind of gravitate toward the director. I ask a lot of questions, and I just develop a character between the writer, the producers, the directors, and me. They want you to do it the way that they see it themselves. Like Louis Sachar, the guy who wrote the book. I talked with him, because it's his book, and he's the one that figured out how these characters were, what their backgrounds were. I kind of got together with him and figured out how they interacted with each other and why they did.
Q: Did you read a lot when you were younger?
Brenden Jefferson: Oh yeah. My mom is really the one that started me off on this process. My dad worked for a dairy for 13 years and he had to have knee surgery, so he had to come home, and my mom said, "Well if you're home, why don't you home teach Brenden?" And he said "OK." He taught me my sounds and my words and everything, and my mom got in on it and they were both reading to me. By the time my parents had taught me how to read I started reading more myself, also. So, my mom got the bright idea of home-schooling. We got work from the district and during the week I would do it, and during the next week I would return it and get another assignment. So, my dad was the teacher for me at home. I didn't have to interact with any other kids or anything. I could just do it one-on-one. Then my mom told me about this test, the GATE test, when I was in sixth grade. So I went and took it, and I was then classified as GATE, so that's from reading a lotand my score was like 94 out of 100. It was high, and I think that's from reading.
Q: Did you ever go to school?
Brenden Jefferson: No, I was always home-schooled.
Q: Did you ever do tutor on the set or anything?
Brenden Jefferson: Legally you have to have a teacher on the set. On all my jobs so far I've had a set teacher. Like, recently, after the movie was completed, I graduated, so now I wouldn't need a teacher… but I still read.
Q: What's your favorite book, or a book that influenced you a lot?
Brenden Jefferson: I've read every book by author R.L. Stine. I have read every Goosebumps book at least five times, and I started the Fear Street series. Really, anything by Scholastic. Really, though, I'm a kid, so those are the kinds of books I like. I read what I have to read, and then I have fun and read what I like.
Q: What was your favorite subject to study?
Brenden Jefferson: Definitely math and science. I know a lot about space and outer space and whatever, dinosaurs and everything like that.
Q: So you have some scientific hobbies or interests, then, outside of school?
Brenden Jefferson: Playstation. (Laughs). Not really anything specific. I go walking with my mom in the morning around 3 a.m., 4 a.m., and the stars are still out, so I tell her where the different stars are, what constellations, which galaxies.
Q: Did Sigourney [Weaver] or Jon [Voight] give you any advice about acting? Did you learn anything from them?
Brenden Jefferson: I pick up different hints from different people. I told them that I'd seen their work and I enjoy their acting. I didn't see Sigourney that many times because I think she was traveling back and forth, working on something else at the time, and we were only in, I believe, two or three scenes together. But she was very nice. Jon Voight was very nice to me and my dad. I saw him more than any of the other adults and he was very nice. My dad likes jazz so he and my dad were listening to jazz together. Me and Jon were listening to classical music, telling jokes to each other, talking about whatever. Matter of fact, he was getting into his character by eating sunflower seeds. Offstage he would do the same thing, and he kind of got me hooked on them too. After a while, the first week I think, I started eating them, and I would go through literally a bag a day. I was sharing, but I would have the majority of it, and I am still hooked on them, I still have them.