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"Just the beginning of his own cinderella story."
"I just loved how he kept battling and never gave up."
"Russell taught me a lot about the guys he was fighting and how to fight."
"Your nervousness just goes away after doing a few lines with them."
"The more you do it, the easier it gets, and the more fun it becomes."
"If I couldn't be an actor, ten to fifteen years from now, I'd probably be playing hockey."
Connor Price  

Interviewed by Mark Sells
June 2005

Connor Price is enthusiastic about his latest film, "Cinderella Man." And why wouldn't he be? The film is a heartwarming and respectable biopic of Depression era boxer, James Braddock. And it features some of the industry's hottest filmmakers in Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. In the film, Connor plays Braddock's oldest son, Jay, who struggles to deal with his family's lack of necessities during the Great Depression. And it's a standout role because it demonstrates his abilities against the best in the business, Academy Award winners Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger.

Born in Ontario, Canada, Connor began his career just three short years ago. Following in the footsteps of his twin brother, Ryan, Connor made his debut in the Paul Gross production, "Men with Brooms." Playing Molly Parker's son, Connor was swept away by his co-stars; in particular, a brush with comedy great, Leslie Nielson. And once bitten, there was no slowing down. For Connor's enthusiasm and confidence helped secure numerous television appearances on "Sins of the Father," "Crossed Over," and "Evel Knievel." Not to mention, a starring role opposite Jason Priestly in 2002's "Fancy Dancing" and a critical role in Deepa Mehta's adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize novel, "The Republic of Love."

As an actor, Connor loves meeting new people. Because "every person you meet always tells you something new...and it helps you become a better actor." And a better actor, he will become. His next role in David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" puts him in more great company, opposite Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. And when I had the chance to talk to him, I couldn't help but wonder if this was just the beginning of his own cinderella story.

Reel Questions, Reel Answers

First, tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in show business.

Well, I'm 10 years old. I love to play hockey and love to play basketball with my best friends. I got started in acting shortly after my brother started, my twin brother Ryan. And I figured it would be fun, so I tried it. So when I finished my first feature film, "Men with Brooms," I just knew. I played Molly Parker's son and when I finished that film, I knew acting was right for me.

You were born in Toronto, Canada but maintain dual citizenship with Canada and the United States.

Yes. My Mom is from New Jersey and that's how I received my United States citizenship. It's really good because I can audition for films in the United States as well as Canada and have more opportunities of getting into feature films.

Do you do most of your auditions in New York?

Well, I go on tape first and then the auditions are sent to either New York or Los Angeles.

How did you become involved with "Cinderella Man?"

I received the script from my agent and really found Jay Braddock an interesting character to play. So, I auditioned. And, on the third and final call back, they brought me, my Mom, and my brother and sister in the film, Ariel Waller and Patrick Louis (who play Rosemarie and Howard Braddock), upstairs and they gave us the good news, saying how we were going to be a family. And I remember just looking around and thinking, "wow, what a lucky kid."

Were you familiar with any of Ron Howard's previous works?

Actually, I've seen many movies he's directed. But what I remember most about him is from a few childhood shows my Mom used to tell me about. Especially, "Happy Days," when he played Opie. It's funny how everybody always tells me about that.

In the film, you play Jay Braddock, son of the legendary boxer Jim Braddock, who fights to support his family during the Great Depression only to become a world champion. What do you find most appealing about the story?

That Jim Braddock kept fighting to provide for his family and to give them a better life, even during bad times, like the Great Depression. And I just loved how he kept battling and never gave up.

Very little information can be found about the life of Jim Braddock and his family outside of the ring. How did you go about preparing for your role? What kinds of things did you learn along the way (history, boxing, etc.)?

I was told most about the story of Jim Braddock from Ron. In particular, he sat all three of us kids down and showed us a tape - real footage of Braddock, his family, and his fights. And Russell taught me a lot about the guys he was fighting and how to fight. I learned a lot about boxing from Russell. And in one scene in the movie, where I'm punching his hand, he actually showed me some boxing moves and how to make a good punch.

What kind of direction did Ron Howard give you to help portray the role of Jay Braddock?

Ron Howard was always reminding us before each scene, 'we're poor, but we're really happy.' And in one scene in which I had to cry, he helped me remember to cry by telling me some sad stories. Like one time, to help him cry, he thought about his dog that had just passed away. And so, he told me a lot of sad things like that to help me cry on cue.

Your parents in the film are played by Academy Award winners: Russell Crowe and Renee Zellweger. What was it like working with them?

It was a lot of fun, actually. Russell was always allowing us to throw punches at him and jump on him and stuff. And we had a lot of fun with him. And Renee was really nice too. Both of them were always playing with us. And Renee always wanted to give the kids hugs - she's really such a nice person.

I remember one day, while shooting, it was Ariel's birthday (she's the youngest of the Braddock children). And she was taken to a cabin that Russell had specially filled with 100 balloons and he gave her all these presents. Both of them were always doing nice things like that.

Did they give you any advice?

Yes. They taught me a lot of different techniques on how to act and how to improve and do things a little differently. But most of all, I remember Russell teaching me how to make a good punch. He told me, "to make a good punch or to know that you're making good punches, after a while, you should develop a scab on your middle knuckle."

What was your favorite memory or moment from the making of "Cinderella Man?"

One of my favorite moments was when I first auditioned and met the cast and crew for the first time. I was just amazed at how nice they were. And another favorite moment was the one scene I had with Russell when I learn all about him and how to box.

Did you have to audition in front of Ron and Russell?

Yes, but only on the final audition. They called us up to the room where Ron, Russell, Renee, and Brian Grazer (the producer) were. And we had to do some scenes with them.

Were you scared?

I was a bit nervous at first because it was probably the biggest audition for me. But when you start doing your lines and stuff, you get into it. And they (Renee and Russell) make it seem really normal. It doesn't sound like they're memorizing lines, but that it's coming off the top of their heads. And your nervousness just goes away after doing a few lines with them.

What was your worst or least favorite part?

My least favorite memory was all the waiting around. Sometimes they would keep us for a very long time and in between you're on and off, on and off. But that happens on most movies. So you get used to it.

You've played a variety of different characters in both television and film. What's been your favorite role so far?

My overall favorite character is Jay Braddock. But I also liked playing Brandon in "Men with Brooms" because I got to work with Paul Gross and Leslie Nielsen. Both are really funny. And in "Fancy Dancing," I played Jason Priestly's son and he was funny too, always making jokes.

What do you find to be the hardest part about being an actor?

Being an actor, after you do it for a long time, becomes normal. You get experienced and are able to get into character and memorize your lines easier. And you love doing it. So the more you do it, the easier it gets, and the more fun it becomes. But I don't really find anything really hard about it.

Is it hard with school?

Well, sometimes I get pulled out of school early, but our teachers always know what we're doing. And oftentimes, I'll bring them tapes so they know what I'm doing. But usually, my agent tries to get it so it's after school, so it doesn't interfere with anything.

What's your favorite part about being an actor?

I think my favorite part about being an actor is meeting different people. Because every person you meet always tells you something new. And you improve and it helps you become a better actor. Meeting new people is just a great experience for kids.

Do you plan to continue acting in the future?

Yes. I hope to continue doing what I'm doing now and become more successful in feature films.

Outside of acting, what do you hope to be doing down the road?

If I couldn't be an actor, ten to fifteen years from now, I'd probably be playing hockey. Hockey is my favorite sport and I'd love to play in the NHL.

Apart from hockey, what do you like to do in your free time?

I like to play with my friends, play basketball during recess at school, and go camping. I also like to play at home with my three brothers and my older sister. And we have two cats and a dog to keep us busy.

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