When Joe Mantegna, Kevin Pollack and Joe Pantoliano play Mafia hitmen who find their next victim-to-be in the forthcoming “The Prince of Mulberry Street” is 10-year-old Vincent Berry, they lay off the rough stuff in the same way that big killer whale went easy with the youngster during filming of “Free Willy 3.”

Those who have worked with Berry have nice things to say. “He’s just terrific — so talented,” raves Jennie Lew Tugend, producer of all three “Free Willy” pictures.

Berry, who also co-starred in “Breakdown” with Kurt Russell, “Amnesia” with Ally Sheedy and the TV movie “Case for Life” with Valerie Bertinelli, says the key benefits for him in his line of work are “meeting new people, going different places and pretending to be someone else.”

Berry, an inline skating freak who has been a regular or had recurring parts on “The Chris Elliott Show,” “Early Edition” and “The Jeff Foxworthy Show,” apparently had the acting bug from the get-go.

“When he was three, he would play a video, and while it was rewinding, he would zero in on the character that excited him most, go get clothes or weapons that represented that character, and play the tape over and over and imitate the character over and over until he got the lines exactly right,” remembers his mother, Rosie Berry.

His first job was as an extra on the Amblin Entertainment feature, “The Little Rascals.” “He was a featured extra and worked every day,” Rosie recalls. “He watched what everyone did, learned the lingo, picked up practices and knew what he was doing.”

Don’t be surprised if Vincent some day turns up in a major action pic. He enjoys doing flips with his rollerblades (wearing knee and elbow pads and a helmet, of course), and he gets excited talking about his wildest experience while filming “Free Willy 3″: “I got to get 25 to 30 feet up and ride on a mechanical whale,” he says. “That was really neat.”

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