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Matthew O'Leary, Frailty's Child Part Two

The 14 year old star of FRAILTY, DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE, and SPY KIDS 2 discusses his career and life as a child actor

By Pamela Harland     April 19, 2002


Jeremy Sumpter, Matthew O'Leary, and Bill Paxton star in FRAILTY.
© Lions Gate Films
14 year old Matthew O'Leary is currently starring alongside Matthew McConaughey and Bill Paxton in Paxton's directorial debut, the dark thriller FRAILTY. 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 demons. The elder Meiks believes that he is on a mission from God, but Fenton is torn, wrestling with his own beliefs while trying to stay true to his father. Today we continue our chat with the young actor.

Bill Paxton stars in FRAILTY



Not likely to be typecast, O'Leary has already covered a vast array of genres with his three films and soon will star in an updated version of TREASURE ISLAND, which he says is a more "millennium-ized" adaptation, with Long John Silver driving an SUV.

Sometimes, not just the story, but even the filming of his movies was unique. FRAILTY was shot on a modest budget on film while SPY KIDS 2 had a bigger budget and director Robert Rodriguez used digital video to shoot his film.

"On SPY KIDS they would say, 'Let's not rehearse it, let's just shoot it,' and I would be like, 'What's going on here? Am I flying in the sea?' They would be like, 'Let's just shoot it.' I was used to FRAILTY where we rehearsed and we rehearsed and rehearsed. We had to get it right the first time. It was totally different."

O'Leary notes his acting experience with SPY KIDS 2 was also something new for him. He says Rodriguez even allowed him to improvise a bit, which he thoroughly enjoyed.

Matthew O'Leary and John Travolta in DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE



"I got to stretch my arms throughout that," says O'Leary. "I got to do a little more funny. What I would do is he would give me a line and I'd do the scene and I would improv throughout. But it was really just, 'Here you go, you do it,' and Robert would just form it from what we did."

When O'Leary was first up for the part in SPY KIDS 2, he was able to return a favor to Paxton. Well sort of, when Paxton called Rodriguez to put in a good word for him he ended up being hired by Rodriguez for a small part in the film.

"Robert was saying, 'Oh yeah, yeah, I will meet with the kid but by the way I have this part for you and this part, it's really a funny part,'" laughs O' Leary. "So it was cool having Bill in a second film with me."

Speaking knowledgeably, O'Leary sums up his vast career in filmmaking in a very mature fashion.

Jeremy Sumpter, Matthew O'Leary, and Bill Paxton star in FRAILTY.



"Basically throughout my career I've had all the different ends of the spectrum," analyzes O' Leary. "I've had the dark side and then I've had the middle ground and then I've had the very light side of action adventure."

As for his personal life, he has yet to graduate high school but definitely plans on attending college.

"And then after that basically I'd like to invest my money and try and get rich," explains O'Leary, who will turn 15 this July. "I haven't bought a car yet but I can't wait until I am older so I can. I can taste buying a car."

His plans are even bigger for his acting career, which he plans to continue even as an adult.

"I want to get out there and work with a lot of different wonderful actors and wonderful directors," says O'Leary. "And of course there is the dream of working with Steven Spielberg. But I want to do as many good roles as possible and whomever might come my way is welcome."

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