You know those "actor" kids who casually brag about their Hollywood agents and past commercial acting gigs? Yeah, well Hunter Gomez isn't one of them.
He's a pretty normal kid -- except that any given Monday, Wednesday, of Friday might find him in the booth recording voices for the TV show Family Guy or jet setting to Los Angeles for his next audition.
We sat down with the 20-year-old political science major at Arizona State University to find out how he balances school with his burgeoning acting career and why he feels his education is worthwhile.
Unless you're a huge fan of the National Treasure movies (looking at you, dad) or a regular viewer of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, you probably wouldn't recognize Gomez's face. But he says he gets a lot of business because of his face. In the National Treasure flicks Gomez, then age 10, played young Nicholas Cage. He's also landed roles playing junior versions of Justin Timberlake and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Sitting at the Memorial Union on the ASU campus, Gomez looks little like, well, any of those guys but does carries a semblance to his acting hero, James Dean. He's got the hair thing going on.
"I love how careless [James Dean] is in his scenes," says Gomez. "It's so real. And he wasn't running towards cameras - he was just....James Dean. That's like, the epitome of cool."
In an ideal world, he says he'd love to take a swing at Dean's seminal role in Rebel Without a Cause. In the real world, he's waiting for his latest film and voice acting work to wrap up production. This summer saw Gomez doing laps in a pool in Virginia as he filmed Coach of the Year, an independent film about a team of underdog swimmers. He'll also appear - or at lest his voice will - in the upcoming season of Family Guy.
But aside from acting and the accompanying chaotic schedule, Gomez blends in flawlessly with his ASU peers. He espouses his love for the Harry Potter series (he's an avid reader), Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the softcore punk/rock that defined high school angst in the mid to late 2000s. He tells us he's even read the Twilight books.
"You know, I read those books and people were all, 'These aren't got guys,' but there's nothing wrong with them!"
So how did this Mesa-born boy, the youngest of six in an ASU-only family, make his way to Tinseltown? If you ask Gomez, he'll say he was born that way. He remembers putting on shows with his siblings and has been making up voices since childhood.
"As a little kid I used to...play around with accents and stuff. I loved army men growing up and when you're playing army men, each guy has to have a different voice."
(We interrupt to point out that our army men had no voices at all.)
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"Everyone had to sound different!" Gomez says shaking his head and laughing. "But it was just little things like that. Voiceover was a direct correlation to that; it was so natural."
After signing with an agent and soon after, an agency in Los Angels, Gomez says his acting "really took off." He landed the Nick Cage role a decade ago and ever since, had been leading a sort of double-life, split between this Valley and the other one. He considered going to school in California, but opted rather to stay true to his family's Sun Devil roots. On Tuesdays and Thursdays he comes to classes, leaving the rest of his week open to pursue his career.
Like his other hero, actor James Franco, Gomez is committed to education. It might even be more accurate to say, he just loves learning. He tells us he reads history books for fun and hopes someday to get a graduate degree. He dreams of writing screenplays or movie scripts, with help of course - perhaps even from his brother, a film student also at ASU.