Kevin Hernández walked into his very first audition for a TV commercial a few years ago brimming with confidence. Acting was something he knew he wanted to do and he landed the role. It’s the same confidence Hernández builds on as his young career continues to blossom.
“Everything was new to me back then,” Hernández, 14, told me during an interview for his new movie “The Sitter” starring Jonah Hill (“Superbad”). “I got very excited. I wanted to see if I could win another one.”
In “The Sitter,” Hernández plays Rodrigo, a foreign exchange student who is one of three young kids college student Noah Griffith (Hill) is coaxed into babysitting. The babysitting gig turns into an adventure through Manhattan when Noah is invited to a party and takes the kids along for the ride.
During our interview, Hernández, who is originally from El Salvador, talked about working with Hill and about another movie he’s already completed starring Mel Gibson.
How did you get involved in acting?
I started when I was about seven or eight years old. I wasn’t shy. I did plays. I read with enthusiasm. I really liked acting. It was a lot of fun. My parents love watching movies. I used to watch a lot with them. Sometimes I would try to act them out. I would be “Superman” or someone like that. I learned a lot from watching movies.
Landing your very first audition must’ve been pretty exciting. You must’ve thought, “I’m going to land everything I audition for!”
Well, there are moments when you get [roles] and other times when you don’t and think you’re never going to get anything else. But eventually you learn and keep working and having a really good time.
How did your role in “The Sitter” come to you?
I read the script and went to an audition. There were like 1,000 kids going out for that part. I was like, “Oh, wow, this is really a big opportunity!” I did about three auditions before they narrowed it down and finally said, “Yeah, we like you!” I was amazed I got it.
How would you describe your character Rodrigo?
He’s mean. He’s a very angry boy. He’s always making fun of people. He talks really loud and curses. It was really fun to play him.
What was it like to work with Jonah Hill?
You see people in movies and you think, “Wow, if I was ever to meet him, what would I say?” So to actually work with him was great. When you talk with him he’s a really nice guy and he makes you laugh. He’s a really talented guy. I learned a lot from him.
What did Jonah teach you about comedy?
Comedy is really challenging because one little beat can change a whole joke. You have to know when to stop and when to say something and whether to use a low or high-pitched voice. He taught me a lot about improvising. He’s really good at that.
What Jonah Hill movies do you like?
I love “Superbad.” I think that was a really unique film. Oh, and “Get Him to the Greek.” That was a really funny film. I thought whenever I would meet Jonah, I was just going to start laughing because I’d remember him in that film.
As your career continues, what kind of roles do you hope to get a chance to do?
I’ve done a comedy, so now I’d really want to try drama. I love using emotions and bringing that to life. But mostly, I want to get more experience acting.
Speaking of getting more experience, you’ve also shot an action movie with Mel Gibson called “How I Spent My Summer Vacation,” which will hopefully hit theaters next year.
Yeah, we shot the film in Mexico. It was a really big role for me. Working with Mel was great. I learned from one of the best. He truly showed me how to act. He was a really fun guy. It was awesome watching him work. He knows so much. He taught me so many things.
You’re 14 years old. Do you still need a babysitter?
No. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had a babysitter.
If you needed one, what actor or actress would you pick?
Um, probably someone funny like [actor] Mike Meyers.
You’re supposed to say someone like Scarlett Johansson.
Oh, no. I probably wouldn’t be doing my homework if she was my babysitter.