He was most recently seen as Young Thor opposite Anthony Hopkins in the Marvel Studios hit “Thor,” directed by Kenneth Branagh. Now, 11-year-old actor Dakota Goyo stars in DreamWorks Pictures’ action-adventure “Real Steel” as Hugh Jackman’s precocious son, Max.
“Real Steel” revolves around Charlie Kenton (Jackman), a washed-up boxer in the near-future who, because his sport has been taken over by 8-foot steel robots, now lives in a world where he doesn’t fit in. With no fights and no prospects, he is forced to hustle as a small-time robot fight promoter. He earns just enough money to survive by piecing together low-end “bots” and traveling from one seamy underground boxing venue to the next for whatever prizefight he can wrangle for his automatons. Just when things can’t become any more desperate and complicated, his estranged 10-year-old son Max suddenly and unwillingly comes back into his life.
For the role of Max, the son who was abandoned early in his life by Jackman’s character, the filmmakers auditioned hundreds of boys and found many exceptional young actors. “We always had the feeling that there would be a kid out there who would be talented and who would have the right look, but would have that little something extra, something that you can’t quite put your finger on but is magic up on the screen,” says director Shawn Levy.
The filmmakers put out an APB casting search and as Jackman relates, “When Dakota came in, Shawn and I were really taken aback. There’s something very soulful about him. The camera just sees right into his soul. He allows the camera inside, which for a young man of his age is very rare. He’s got an angelic quality about his face. He’s naturally very outgoing and a naturally happy kid. And he’s very respectful and sweet. On the screen and off-screen, he’s a really special person.”
Executive producer Steven Spielberg also saw a quality in Dakota that he looks for when casting actors for his films. He explains, “When I saw Dakota’s test, I just saw a real kid. I didn’t see an actor. You know you can just tell when somebody’s real and that’s what I look for when I cast adults or kids.”
Dakota auditioned four times for the role of Max: twice on tape and twice in person in Los Angeles. In L.A., he had the opportunity to work with Hugh Jackman and says of the experience, “I wasn’t nervous around Hugh because he is a great, awesome guy. He’s so polite and he’s always prepared to do his work. I’m really excited when I work with him because he’s just really extraordinary.”
Dakota hails from Toronto, Canada. At an early age, he discovered a passion for acting and playing in front of the camera. This passion, along with Dakota’s tremendous work ethic and natural acting talent, has led him to a burgeoning film career at the young age of 11.
Opening across the Philippines on Oct. 12 in IMAX, 2D and regular theaters, “Real Steel” is a DreamWorks Picture distributed locally by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.