With such a strong supportive family, it’s little wonder that Gabriel Bateman’s career is flourishing as an actor.
Well, that and the fact he is a talented 11-year-old boy, the youngest in a family of eight children – most of whom are involved in similar creative field as him.
In an e-mail interview with Bateman, the Californian says he would repeat lines in movies when he was much younger. “So when my older sister got into acting, I asked my parents if I could give it a try.”
One of his earliest roles was in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy two years ago. Next up were opportunities in the film Annabelle and TV series Stalker, in which he was a regular playing the son of Dylan McDermott’s character.
This year, he made an unforgettable guest star appearance in the pilot episode of Outcast, a series based on another comic book created by Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead). Bateman opened the series, portraying a little boy who was possessed by a demon with an appetite for bugs – he thwacked a cockroach on the wall with his forehead and ate it! (The “cockroach” was just gum candy, Bateman shares.)
Recently, audiences saw Bateman as the haunted brother in the horror flick, Lights Out, alongside actresses Teresa Palmer and Maria Bello. He is also a regular on a new drama-mystery series called American Gothic.
Despite having many projects in such a short time, Bateman says he’s not really driven. The youngster puts it down to the fact that he has been led to interesting projects because he enjoys the process of becoming a different person so much.
“I like to develop characters, create layers, and build back stories. I like to use my imagination,” he shares.
Surprisingly, Bateman has never gone for acting classes or used acting coaches. His mantra is to give each role his 100%. “I think the best way to improve is to work with and surround yourself with intelligent and creative people.”
In a separate interview, Outcast actor Patrick Fugit attested that his young co-star gave his all to bring a rather complicated character to life, especially one as demanding as the possessed child. Similarly, Lights Out director David F. Sandberg was very impressed with Bateman.
Some things are still quite normal with Bateman like doing his school work, albeit with a teacher on set when he is shooting. “When I am not filming, I manage school like everyone else.”
When asked if he sees acting as his ultimate career, Bateman answers: “I am too young to know, but I see myself acting for a long time, even if I pursue other things.”
1. What is a typical day like when the Bateman family gets together, and how do you support each other?
It’s rare that we all get together because many of my brothers and sisters are adults, but when we do, it is fun. We all talk at once and have stories to tell and catch up. Really, nothing is typical in my family.
Living with my family is sometimes like attending a master class. We are each other’s teachers in a lot of things. We are all constantly telling stories and pretending to be people in something we call The Game. My brother Noah is writing a book about our characters. Sometimes when a role comes along, it is very similar to an idea we have had.
My sister Leah is amazing in her talents. She can act and dance and has a beautiful singing voice, but for now, she helps take Talitha and me to our filming days and locations. My family is like my team.
2. Do you get to watch shows like The Walking Dead, and is it safe to assume you are a fan of the horror genre since you have been in a few already?
I don’t have a TV so I don’t watch a lot. I’m pretty selective. I have watched all of my work and most of my projects. But I actually hate watching myself.
I am not a fan of horror. It is these roles that I book because I think they are usually more complicated characters, and that appeals to me. Also all of the characters I play in these projects are very different. Jack (American Gothic) is a funny guy. He’s quirky, off, and morbid. Martin (Lights Out) is a normal boy who is mature because of extreme circumstances and is, in the film, terrified. Joshua (Outcast) is at first confused. He is this ancient demon invading the body of a small boy, yet sometimes the “boy” Joshua comes out and he is frightened and weak.
3. Do you remember how your audition for Lights Out went?
I met David and he had me do a lot of improv. He’s got a very creative brain. He told me at one point to come at him and try to take the flashlight. I guess I just went for it and actually scared him. Hahaha. I guess that sealed the deal. They said they never had a second choice.
4. What was it like working with Robert Kirkman for Outcast and James Wan for Lights Out?
Robert Kirkman is brilliant. He gave me a lot of freedom to create Joshua.
And James is fun! I learned from him that you can have the mind of an excited kid and a serious man at once. He never lost the imagination of a young boy. It is the same with David.
5. What do you do for fun?
I hike and ride scooter. Patrick Fugit taught me archery and Justin Chatwin (of American Gothic) taught me indoor rock climbing. I like to paint and do crafts, read and write stories.