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Matthew O'Leary, Frailty's Child Part One

The young actor gets spooked in Bill Paxton's FRAILTY

By Pamela Harland     April 18, 2002


Bill Paxton and Matthew O'Leary in FRAILTY
© Lions Gate Films
At just 14 he has already worked with some pretty big names... John Travolta, Matthew McConaughey, Antonio Banderas and Bill Paxton. Yet, things have only just begun for young Matthew O'Leary whose latest film was Paxton's directorial debut. Paxton's FRAILTY delves into the horror of a man bent on believing he is the "God's Hand" murderer, meaning he will kill any human whom he believes to be a demon. O'Leary plays the younger version of Fenton Meiks McConaughey plays the older Fenton who, along with his brother Adam (Jeremy Sumpter), is enlisted by his father (Paxton) to destroy the demons. But Fenton is torn, wrestling with his own beliefs while trying to stay true to his father.

FRAILTY



Not exactly a kid's film, O'Leary had no reservations about taking on such a dark story at such a young age. His parents, however, had quite a few, especially his mother. But Paxton, being the consummate professional that he is, put them at ease with a phone call ensuring them their son would be taken care of. They all finally agreed that O'Leary was "mature" enough to handle the material.

"I know it's just a movie," says O'Leary. "And it's really just there for our entertainment."

Still, right from the start Paxton was very concerned with what both O'Leary and Sumpter would be dealing with not just on his film but throughout their careers. He even pulled them both into his trailer and had a "Hollywood" talk with them about the horrors of the biz.

"From there on I really realized he is a great friend," says O'Leary. "He was a great teacher throughout the film and a great mentor. I really cherish our friendship. He is a great guy."

The contents of their conversation are private and obviously very important to O'Leary but he says a lot of what he told them that day was a warning of what to do and what not to do.

Bill Paxton directs FRAILTY



"What Bill basically said was watch out for all this Hollywood stuff," explains O'Leary. "And even though you are a kid and you are not going to get it as hard as I do but you are probably going to get into your teens and as you get older you are still going to act and watch out."

Just two years later O'Leary says he's already experienced some of what Paxton was talking about, noting he has been "taking his advice very seriously."

Keeping the mood on the set of the very dark film less than serious was also a prime concern for Paxton.

"Throughout the film we kept it really light," says O'Leary. "Bill would joke around with me but every time the scenes would come we would be very serious and we'd get right down to it."

There were a few moments where O'Leary admits to having difficulty performing in a scene. But, he says, Paxton would help him through the heavy stuff, telling him that he wouldn't be able to draw from anything just yet in his life so he would have to work really hard trying to imagine what it felt like.

"I needed to have that emotion which I did let out and I am happy how it looks," says O'Leary.

Bill Paxton and Matthew O'Leary in FRAILTY



With three films under his belt now, FRAILTY, DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE and the yet to be released SPY KIDS 2 where he plays nemesis Gary Giggles, O'Leary says he often thinks back of those times where he struggled during FRAILTY's shoot and wishes he could have done it differently.

"I wish I could go back and do FRAILTY one more time because I think I could handle it differently," says O'Leary, "and I think I could do a better job in my eyes. But for a first film I worked really hard at it and I am still proud of it."

Be sure to check back soon for part two of our talk with Matthew O'Leary.

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