A film released nationwide in April depicts the story of a little boy’s faith during World War II. Little Boy stars Jakob Salvati, his debut in a leading role. Jakob agreed to an interview with the War Cry about his own faith, his film career and the thrilling story about a boy who prays fervently for his dad to return home from a Nazi prison camp.
WC: I’m told you’ve had no acting lessons. So how did you break into Hollywood?
JS: Mom is an acting coach and has worked for some of the major television networks. I have a little brother, Josh, who is autistic, and the two most powerful parts of his brain are for photographic memory and [music] pitch. He plays piano because of his autism.
Anyway, since he has photographic memory, mom would take my brother to many auditions because a talent like that is a great advantage when doing the scenes. Sometimes mom would take me along too, and sometimes the production company would audition me. About 1,000 boys auditioned for this part, and they gave it to me after I auditioned nine times. They said “This is the kid!”
WC: This is your first starring role, but not your first movie project. What other movie credits do you have?
JS: I was in Crescendo and Escape From Tomorrow.
WC: Tell me about your Christian faith.
JS: My family is Christian, and my dad is an ordained minister who serves our church in Norco, California as the worship leader. In fact, our name, Salvati, means “salvation” in Italian. I accepted the Lord as my Savior because of my family’s example to me, and because of all the people at our church that seem like family to me. I was just ready to make that decision to live for Jesus.
WC: Tell me about Norco.
JS: It’s a great place to live. Did you know that there are more horses than people living there? It is the largest horse-per-capita city in the world.
WC: What would you do if you won an Oscar?
JS: I don’t want to sound prideful, but I would like that very much!
WC: Do you think you could be the next teen-idol?
JS: I don’t know about that [Jacob smiles], but I will tell you that there’s a girl I like—but I won’t tell you her name because that might scare her off if everybody read about her.
WC: Were you ever nervous or scared during the filming?
JS: Only on the first day. The crew members were all yelling at each other and I started to cry. The director made a deal with me to get them to stop fighting. He promised me that for every scene I filmed, I’d get a toy! So I asked, “Well, what about my brother?” And he said, “Okay, Josh too!”
WC: Is Josh in the movie too?
JS: Yep! He was my stunt-double for most of the movie, and it is Josh you see on the movie poster of the little boy looking out to sea.
WC: So after that first day of shooting, did everything else go pretty much okay?
JS: Yes, after a while they started calling me “Little Leo” (DiCaprio). So that was pretty cool.
WC: What does it feel like to look up at that big screen and see yourself there?
JS: I know that this is a blessing from God, because not many kids get to do this.
WC: I understand this role came at just the right time for your family financially.
JS: Yes, the economy was bad, and what I made on this film enabled us to make house payments. That’s another reason why I know this came from God.
Some movie companies offered me a lot of money to make some of the films they want to put out, but because of my family’s Christian values, we’ve turned them down.
WC: Tell me about Little Boy.
JS: This is a movie with depth. And it’s beautifully shot in the same studio where they shot Titanic [Baja Film Studios].
Anyway, this eight year-old kid wants to get his dad back from the war. It was hard for his dad to go because they were super–close. When the bus came to pick his dad up, that was a very sad scene. He tried everything he could to get his dad back.
WC: Will there be a sequel to Little Boy? Say, a Little Boy 2?
JS: I don’t think so, as far as Little Boy is concerned. But I do know that there will be many more Christian films coming, because that’s what Hollywood is finally beginning to realize. This movie company (Metanoia Films) was founded on the basis of producing films of Christian content and quality, designed to specifically honor God—not man or the (movie) industry. These are the kind of movies we need.
WC: Do the problems of the world scare you?
JS: I believe my faith in the Lord will last forever. Things that I see happening do scare me sometimes, but the Lord has promised to take care of us. Some things we can control, and some things we can’t. We just have to have faith in Him.
WC: What kind of movie would you like to star in again someday?
JS: I’d like to do a movie that tells the world who God really is. Not what people think He is like, but who He really is!
WC: Is there anything about Little Boy that you’d like our readers to know—like a certain plotline?
JS: Yes—listen for the line, “Do the list.” That figures prominently in the story and if they go to see this movie, that line will make a lot of sense!