We got the opportunity to chat with young actor Nathan Blair about his role in Netflix’s We Can Be Heroes. A follow-up to Sharkboy and Lavagirl, the new film was released on December 25, 2020.
Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to do this.
Nathan Blair (NB): Of course, I’m glad to be here.
How did you first discover your interest in acting and what inspired you to pursue it as a career?
NB: I guess I always liked it. I never really thought of doing it… never thought it could be a thing I was able to do. When I was really young, I’d always perform and re-enact scenes from my favourite movies like Star Wars and Back To The Future. So I’d act, I guess, but I never really thought: “Oh, I could do that.” I never thought it was an option for me.
But then I was sent to an acting camp about five years ago. Through that acting camp, we had a showcase where agents and managers came in. That’s where I met my manager; she showed me my agent and all that. So, that’s how I kind of got into it. I wanted to do it, but didn’t know I was actually doing it until they said: “Agents and Managers are coming to see and if they like you, they’re going to try to get you in actual movies.” I’m like: “Okay” and I guess it worked, since now I’m in We Can Be Heroes.
In a general sense, which other actors do you look up to or admire?
NB: I look up to Leonardo DiCaprio, I think he’s a good actor. I really like all the movies I’ve seen him in. It’s so cool he’s able to play one certain character then another movie, it’s a totally opposite character. So, “Jack” from Titanic is not the guy from Django Unchained, y’know. He also does a bunch of different accents and I think that’s really cool.
I also like Daniel Day-Lewis. He gets into this method acting, I think that’s kind of cool. I don’t know if that would really work for me, but it’s cool how he really becomes a character. So, I like them.
You recently appeared as ‘Wild Card’ in We Can Be Heroes for Netflix, a continuation of Sharkboy and Lavagirl (2005). Considering your young age, were you familiar with the original film?
NB: I was born in the year that Sharkboy and Lavagirl came out. Yeah, I was really young. Then, when I was 10 or something, it was on Netflix so I saw it with my sister; “Oh, that’s cool. I like that movie.” It must’ve been fun for the actors because it’s all green screen and flips around. When I got this, I didn’t really connect the dots because it didn’t really say Sharkboy and Lavagirl. It just said: “It’s called We Can Heroes for Netflix.” When I got a little more informatiion, I was like: “Oh, it Sharkboy and Lavagirl“
It’s not really a sequel, but it’s kind of similar and they’re in it. It’s kind of like the same universe. I remember watching Sharkboy and Lavagirl with my sister and we love the movie. To be part of that whole Robert Rodriguez universe is pretty cool. I was really, really excited especially to meet Taylor Dooley, who plays Lavagirl. That was really cool.
As for your character, how would you describe ‘Wild Card’ to anyone who has not seen the film?
NB: I would describe him as… a little edgy, I guess. He wants to be the leader and he wants people to follow him. But, he doesn’t realise being a leader means also following the team and kind of listening to the team too. He’s kind of the cool kid in the back, who has to learn how to believe in others as well as trying to focus on himself.
How would you compare ‘Wild Card’ and We Can Be Heroes to your past projects?
NB: Very different. I did another Netflix show called Best Worst Weekend Ever. That character, he’s all timid, really nice and just lost his Dad. He’s sad, loves comic books and is kind of a nerd. They’re different in that way, but similar because they’re both leaders… they have an idea and that’s the plan they want to execute. Kind of similar, but also kind of different. That’s how I would compare him to that.
Was there any pressure in booking the part for We Can Be Heroes, knowing you’d be working with Priyanka Chopra, Christian Slater, and Pedro Pascal, among others?
NB: There was at first, when they told us who it’s going to be. I’m like: “Oh my God, Christian Slater is going to play my Dad.” When he came on and I met him, all of them just being super nice really took the edge off. Okay, they’re cool. They gave us advice: “Be calm, don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine. You guys are doing great.” It kind of calmed us all out and we were like: “Okay, this is going to be good.” When we got to do the scenes… while we were shooting, all really fun. That’s kind of how it went.
When we met Priyanka, who was on set, she came and she’s like: “Oh my God, guys, hi!” She was really nice and so excited to be there. When I heard who’s going to be in it, there was an edge. When I met them, I realised they’re really cool people and excited to be there as well. Everything was fine.
How was your experience working with writer/director Robert Rodriguez, who was also behind “Spy Kids”?
NB: The experience was really cool, because he was kind of like a big kid and would always draw with us. Me and Lyon [Daniels, who plays “Noodles”]. we created this ‘dino wall’ which is the exterior of one of the hallways. We’d draw dinosaurs and put them up there. Robert came backstage and he’s like: “Oh my God, that’s so cool!” He went and drew a dinosaur, put it up, was really cool that way. Directing-wise, he was always telling us his idea and had everything that he wanted to do. It was all planned out and he was just really cool.
I like directing as well, so I asked him questions and he answered them for me. One day that was really cool was when we did the table reads. I would always smile like I couldn’t stop smiling. My Dad always points it out: “Nathan, you’re smirking!” Then, Robert said: “You know, I’ve noticed every time we’re doing the table reads and rehearsing, you can’t stop smiling. but as soon as we’re shooting the thing, you’re in character.” That was pretty cool of him to say, I was pretty grateful that he said that. He was just really nice to us, a big kid on set and excited about everything.
Aside from We Can Be Heroes, are there any other projects in the works that you can discuss?
NB: I’ve done some auditions and think I did pretty well on those. Hopefully, I hear back from those – can’t really say too much about what it is because, you know. Also, the sequel [to We Can Be Heroes] is coming out, which is pretty cool. I can’t wait to go and shoot that. Hopefully, a super big year in 2021.
If anyone reading this interview wanted to find out more about your work or you personally, where could they look?
NB: Instagram right now is probably the best way – it’s @Nathan_Blair_LA. – that’s the best way. I have a YouTube channel, called Nathan Blair. Every now and then, I’ll post a little movie that I made up there. That’s how you can probably keep up with me.
What do you hope to accomplish in 2021?
NB: I’d definitely like to do more different kinds of movies. I’d like to do possibly a drama, I’d like to do that. Maybe I’ll get around to directing a movie, a short film that I could put on YouTube. We’ll have to make sure there’s time for that. Hopefully with 2021, I’d like to maybe direct a short film and do some different genre movies.