Accenting overseas talent
Thor Bradwell may count such tween superstars as Corbin Bleu (“High School Musical”) and Dylan and Cole Sprouse (“The Suite Life of Zack and Cody”) among his clients, but he’s just as excited about discovering the next generation of possible leading men and women, many of whom he finds abroad.
“I love Disney, but that’s only one half of me,” the William Morris agent says.
Now that teens have become some of the biz’s biggest moneymakers with massive music and licensing deals, agencies are paying closer attention to the younger set.
Before Bradwell and his partner and mentor Bonnie Liedtke moved from TalentWorks to WMA, kids were handled by smaller specialty agencies.
“They used to say you would never work above a certain level with youth, but that’s changed,” he says. “We saw that the big agencies had a hole for 17- and 18-year-olds. It’s extremely competitive these days.”
Bradwell travels extensively, scanning local TV shows and performing arts schools and networking with agents and publicists in several countries to find new talent, with greatest luck in the U.K. and Australia. The actor playing a young Hugh Jackman in “Wolverine”? That’s Aussie Troye Sivan, a Bradwell client.
“These days studios and networks are willing not to cast just another pretty face. They want to cast the best actors,” he says, “What’s different about British kids is that they’re classically trained, they have a huge theater background.”
Bradwell concentrates on the sweet spot of 16- to 18-year-olds who can be positioned to take on leading roles, preferably in features.
“There’s not too many next-generation leading men,” he says.
One contender is “Twilight’s” Taylor Lautner, whom Bradwell calls “our next Zac Efron.” He’s also enthusiastic about 17-year-old Alden Ehrenreich — “a River Phoenix type with an indie spirit” — who was discovered by Steven Spielberg and just wrapped Francis Ford Coppola’s “Tetro.”
Recent breakthrough: His client Jemma McKenzie-Brown is one of the new faces in “High School Musical 3” who looks poised to return for “4.”
Role model: Admires how James McAvoy, Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe have handled their careers.
What’s next: Increasing his international portfolio with more clients such as British actor Aaron Johnson, who stars in Matthew Vaughan’s “Kickass.”