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"Working with Will Ferrell was really a dream come true."
"You just have to have that type of attitude - that everyone gets the parts that they were meant to have."
"I can relate to that - a short kid trying to play basketball!"
"To bring a smile on someone's face or to make someone laugh is such a great feeling."
"I can always fall back and be an interpreter."
Steven Anthony Lawrence  

Interviewed by Mark Sells
March 2005

Steven Anthony Lawrence loves being an actor. But more importantly, he loves making people laugh. Starting at an early age, this young actor/comedian began lighting up television screens in the mid-90's with appearances in Nike, McDonalds, Oscar Meyer, and Goodyear commercials. And because of his enthusiasm and distinguished looks, he found himself in cameo roles with some of television's hottest shows like "Married...with Children," "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "ER." Of course, all of this attention led to Steven's first recurring role in the Emmy nominated Disney series "Even Stevens."

Cast as the lovable but troublesome "Beans" Aranguren, Lawrence earned a 2003 Young Artists Award for his portrayal of the popular character. And his comedic talents helped launch a string of feature films ranging from "My Favorite Martian" to "Bubble Boy" to Dr. Seuss' "The Cat In The Hat." Then, when cast opposite Steve Martin as the kid next door in "Cheaper by the Dozen," Steven received another Young Artist Award nomination in 2004. Said director Shawn Levy: Audiences LOVE watching Steven. He's real, he's hilarious, he's just plain terrific."

At just fourteen years of age, Steven Anthony Lawrence has amassed an adult list of credits, filming over 50 national commercials, participating in more than 10 television shows and t.v. movies, and partaking in over a dozen feature films. And he's also the only young actor to ever have a fan club at Yale! Starring opposite Will Ferrell in Universal Picture's "Kicking & Screaming," Steven once again proves that laughter is indeed, the best medicine.

Reel Questions, Reel Answers

Tell me a little about your career - i.e. how you got in the industry, your early commercials and television and your transition to the big screen.

Okay, well I started in the business when I was about 4. I started doing baby dances when I was little and then I got a commercial agent and was with JRP (John Robert Powers) when I was pretty little. They were my fifth agent, my first commercial agent any way.

After that, I got a couple of commercials and then moved to a theatrical agent where I started getting co-starring and guest starring roles. Then, little by little, parts on movies came up and I kept building and building.

Building toward a film like "Kicking & Screaming?" How did you first get involved?

Pretty much the same as any other project. I got an interview from my agent saying they were looking for a kid to play Mark Avery. Here's the part, go try out.

In the film, you play one of the boys Will Ferrell's character coaches. What was it like working with the comic actor? And is he as funny on camera as he is off?

Ah, wow. Well, I'm a really big Saturday Night Live fan so working with Will Ferrell was really a dream come true. And it's funny because sometimes when he wasn't working, they had to keep him separated from the rest of the cast because he kept cracking us up and we couldn't stay quiet on the set (laughing).

Your favorite Will Ferrell movie?

It'd have to be "Old School."

"Kicking & Screaming" involves soccer quite a bit. How familiar were you with the sport before filming began? And was there a soccer camp?

Well, I was on a soccer team when I was 8, but that seems like it was eons ago. But yes, there was a soccer camp and it was pretty intense. A lot of the kids on the team are two to three years younger than me and it was definitely intense, especially for an eleven year old.

Was it fun for you?

Yeah. It was pretty fun. For me, it's always fun to learn a new sport.

Phil Weston (Ferrell) is a parent who takes after his father's competitive ways to the extreme as it relates to soccer. Are you yourself a very competitive person?

Well, being an actor, with thousands of 14 year old boys in the business, makes you competitive by nature.

But it's also important to realize (as competitive as it is) that everyone gets their fair share of work. You just have to have that type of attitude - that everyone gets the parts they were meant to have.

Mike Ditka (not Sammy Sosa!) makes an appearance in the film. What did you learn from him about winning?

I learned from him that winning isn't everything. It's how you play the game. And getting satisfaction in how you play the game is most important, because essentially, if you lose enough games, you'll win enough games.

What was your favorite memory or moment from the making of "Kicking & Screaming?"

I remember on the last day of re-shoots we filled up a big tub of Gatorade, like in the big soccer games, and we dumped it on our director. He knew since it was the last day of shooting that something was going to happen, but nothing like this!

What was your worst or least favorite part?

One of the scenes that we were going to add was this scene in which Will Ferrell gives us a finch (a bird). And I'm allergic to it. And I get this really big allergic reaction to it.

I spent four hours in the makeup chair that day because they had to paint these little bubble things on my face. And it was really tedious. First they had to paint the things on and then they had to airbrush my whole body red. And then I had to put these plumpers in my cheeks to make my face all swollen and stuff.

And unfortunately, it didn't make the cut.

Out of all the characters you've portrayed in film and television, from Mark Avery to Beans to Dumb Schweitzer, which one can you most relate to and why?

Probably Ralph in "Rebound" because I'm 14 and I'm only 4'10" and Ralph is supposed to be 13 and 4'10". He's pretty short and so am I (laughs). And I can relate to that - a short kid trying to play basketball!

Now "Rebound" doesn't hit theaters until July 1st. What can you tell me about Ralph and the film?

Well, in the movie "Rebound," Martin Lawrence loses his job because he loses his temper in an NCAA game and the only way he can get his coaching license back is if he coaches at his old middle school and doesn't lose his temper. And I get to play one of the kids that he coaches.

What is the hardest part about being an actor?

Probably lines, because some days you would have 10 pages of lines and you'd have to balance your lines with your school work and your family and stuff.

What is the most rewarding aspect about being an actor?

Hmmm. Well, let me tell you this story. I was working at the Ronald McDonald House a couple months ago and this kid, who was dealing with leukemia, came up to me.

He was completely bald and pale as can be and he touched my shirt and said, "You know, Steven, you really make me laugh on that show 'Even Stevens.' And that touched me and really made it seem worth while. To bring a smile on someone's face or to make someone laugh is such a great feeling.

It's interesting that you say that because you're career has crossed paths with several of the industry's leading comedians - Will Ferrell, Steve Martin, Mike Myers, Albert Brooks, Martin Lawrence, just to name a few. What's the best advice that any one of them ever gave you?

I remember Will Ferrell gave me this one speech. He said that the worst thing that an actor can do is get a big head. And you can have all the money in the world and not be happy. And it definitely made an impression on me.

What actor/comedian do you most admire and why?

I really admire Fred Savage because, in a way, he's kind of done what I want to do. He had a hit television series in "The Wonder Years" and then he got into directing. And that's what I want to do. I want to be a lead on a television series and I want to start directing.

And he's still doing some acting gigs, right?

Yeah, like in Austin Powers. In "Goldmember."

So what if you were unable to pursue acting or directing as a career? What do you think you would be doing ten years down the road?

Well, about three or four years ago, I took up sign language as my form language for school. And it's really grown on me. It's just a great language to learn.

I can communicate fluently now and interpret pretty well. So, if the industry doesn't work out for me, I can always fall back and be an interpreter.

Have you encountered any roles that might make use of this skill?

I've heard of a couple roles on NCIS where there was a little deaf boy. And a few other roles I've been up for where the boy was required to speak sign language.

Of course, you can't always be at work or in school. What do you like to do in your free time?

Well, around November, I picked up snowboarding - and it's really been fun. It's such a great sport. I also love to go to movies, go bowling, ice skating, just a bunch of fun stuff, especially when you can do it with friends.

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