Since breaking out on the Nickelodeon TV show “The Naked Brothers Band” in 2007 with his brother Alex, actor Nat Wolff has gone on to carve out a nice little career for himself over the last 10 years.
Most notably, Wolff starred opposite Cara Delevingne in the 2015 mystery/drama “Paper Towns” as a teenager who follows a series of clues to find his missing neighbor and love interest. Wolff also earned roles in “The Fault in Our Stars,” “The Intern” and “Home Again.”
In the animated film “Leap!,” he lends his voice to Victor, a pre-teen inventor in the late 19th century who accompanies his friend Felicie (Elle Fanning) on a trip to Paris where she hopes to become a world-famous ballerina.
During a recent interview with Wolff, 22, we talked about why it was so fun playing a 12-year-old kid and what he hopes a film like “Leap!” says to young moviegoers.
Whether we’re talking about a movie like “Wonder Woman” or “The Hunger Games” or “Ghostbusters,” it seems like studios, little by little, are realizing that it’s important to tell these stories about female empowerment. Do you think these films are going to become more prolific or are we just seeing a trend?
I think these films are certainly going to become more prolific. I think girls and guys want to see these types of films. I think it’s silly that there is such a disparity between movies that star men and women.
What would you tell parents of little boys who might not want to go see “Leap!” because it is a story about a ballerina?
As a little kid I used to watch movies like “Toy Story” and “Monster’s Inc.” and was a huge animated film fan. It’s exciting to play a character like Victor who is such a wild one, an inventor. That’s what I wanted to do when I was a kid – use my Legos and invent things. I think guys are going to love it, too.
Your character is described as somewhat of a goofball. Can you explain how you connected to him on that level?
Well, it was really hard for me to connect to a goofball. (Laughs) Honestly, it was a breeze. I sort of gave up trying to tame myself in a way. I got to be my wild, 12-year-old self and go into a booth and scream and go crazy for a couple of days. I was a really strange thing.
What’s the message you would like kids to understand when they see a film like “Leap!”?
I think for me, one of the exciting things about this movie is that it’s hopeful and positive and not in a world that is cynical. I’m happy to be a part of the film. I think watching film was really important to my growth as a kid. I think if you’re watching movies that reflect some hope, hopefully that will go into their lives.
Your character participates in a dance off in the film. How do you think you’d fare in a dance off with someone? What are your skills like on the dance floor?
I pretty much think I can beat anyone. I think I could take anyone down. I’m not technically brilliant, but I lead with the heart. Send your best dancer and I’ll school them.