Only three actors appear on the posters for "People Like Us," an upcoming Disney drama about a splintered family. The recognizable ones are Chris Pine, of "Star Trek," and Elizabeth Banks, recently seen in "What to Expect When You're Expecting." The third is Michael Hall D'Addario, making his feature-film debut.
Not bad for a 13-year-old from Hicksville.
D'Addario plays Josh, whose single mother, Frankie (Banks), is a recovering alcoholic; Pine plays her half-sibling, Sam. The cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde and Jon Favreau, but much of "People Like Us" pivots on D'Addario. As Josh, a sweet but wayward kid with rocker-length hair and attitude to match, D'Addario provides many crucial dramatic moments, not to mention some of the film's strongest language.
"I think it was harder than anything I'd ever done," D'Addario says over a recent lunch at a sushi restaurant near his home. "I've done stuff, but I'd never done anything where I had a lot of lines."
A ROCK FAN
Until now, D'Addario's resumé had been limited mostly to ensemble parts in stage plays and a role as the young Charles Adams in the HBO miniseries "John Adams." But Alex Kurtzman, director of "People Like Us," chose D'Addario out of 500 actors who tested for the part. Kurtzman says he liked D'Addario's Joey Ramone hairdo -- so long that it required a trim to reveal the actor's eyes -- and the fact that D'Addario is a genuine rock fan who plays drums in his own band.
"What's funny is that he's more interested in his music than he is in acting," Kurtzman says. "He's not trying to impress you, and I think that makes him honest."
Kurtzman may be right about D'Addario's interests. D'Addario speaks haltingly about acting in his first movie and shares just one anecdote, about a scene at a seafood restaurant where he was the only actor actually eating. "Everybody said, 'Slow down! You're going to have to start spitting it out,' " he says. "I was like, what's the matter with everyone? But then, 15 takes into it, I was all bloated and gross."
PLAYING A STREET FAIR When the talk turns to music, however, D'Addario comes to attention. His band, MOTP (it informally stands for "Members of the Press" and includes his guitar-playing brother, Brian, also an actor), is scheduled to play the Hicksville street fair July 22; D'Addario has new, "more mature" material he wants to try out. In October, he'll appear in "Sinister," a horror movie starring Ethan Hawke, but D'Addario clearly has other priorities. He was asked by Jody Lambert, a writer on "People Like Us," to consider a role in another film, though it would require another haircut. D'Addario turned it down.