TEEN BEAT ALL-STARS HOLIDAY 1988-1989

 

 
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MEET JERRY O'CONNELL: ULTRAMAN!!!

"Ultraman can float, he's got super speed and he's invulnerable. They're all funny strengths," says Jerry of his character in My Secret Identity.


The acclaim of Stand By Me brought four young actors to our attention and we've followed the continued success of River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Wil Wheaton ever since. But when Jerry O'Connell, the youngest of the quartet, didn't turn up again in another movie or TV role as quickly as the others did, no doubt there were those who wondered if he'd assumed a secret identity. He didn't! If you have a good eye, you may have spotted Jerry in a few commercials or in the Disney Channel's Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss in August. These days, Jerry really does have a secret identity. As 15-year-old Andrew Clements he's secretly Ultraman, the world's newest superhero, on the all-new syndicated series My Secret Identity. Jerry looks surprisingly different from the Vern Tessio character we took to our hearts when Stand By Me cam out. But what isn't surprising is how naturally friendly and cheerful Jerry is. We interviewed him during a break from the series, and of course we had some catching up to do. Here's Jerry!

Teen Beat: How did you get the part of Andrew Clements, aka Ultraman, in My Secret Identity?

Jerry O'Connell: The people from the series saw me in Stand By Me and called me in. I went in for the reading, and a few months later I found out they were going to be doing the pilot and were hoping it would go into first run syndication. Now it's gone into syndication, so, I'm pretty happy.

TB: What appealed to you most about the character?

Jerry: It was a fun part and Andrew turns into a superhero. He's got super powers. And always has a kid I said, I'll be the bionic kid! I thought it would be fun - and we both collect comic books!

TB: What's it like playing "The world's newest superhero"?

Jerry: He's not a superhero yet. He always worshipped superheroes as a kid, and now he's come into that race of superheroes and it's kind of funny how he things he's a superhero. He can float, he's got super speed and he's invulnerable. They're all funny strengths. Superman is invulnerable, he's strong and he can fly. Ultraman's invulnerable but he floats!

TB: Do you like doing the special effects?

Jerry: Oh, yes. To make me float they put me on this thing that's like a teeter-totter. It's got a base and they put weights on one side and they hook me up in a bug harness on the other, and that's how they move me around. It's like being weightless. It's great.

TB: Do you get recognized a lot from Stand By Me?

Jerry: Well, I don't get recognized that much now 'cause I got a little taller and everything. When I went to Canada to do the pilot for My Secret Identity, I got off the plane and I went to get a soda and there was this girl behind the counter and she goes [pointing], "Vern!" She gave me the soda!"

TB: Do people tell you that you look different?

Jerry: Yes, They say I look a lot different. And they say "How did you lose it, did you go on a diet?"

TB: You're also three years older. Does it bother you when people say things like that?

Jerry: No, it kind of feels good. It doesn't bother me.

TB: Have you read any movie scripts?

Jerry: I auditioned for Big and I met Tom Hanks for that. He's rally funny. The movie was hilarious. I think I was a little too old for the part. I'm at that point where I'll go on an audition and they'll say, "Great reading, but you're too old," or then I'll go on another one, "Sorry, great reading, but you're too young."

TB: How do you deal with that?

Jerry: Well, it's not that bad now because I have a show, but I'll give it two more years and I'll be just the right age.

TB: What kind of movie role would you like to do?

Jerry: I think I'd like to do a comedic role. Drama's good too, but I like comedy better.

TB: What kind of roles have you done since Stand By Me?

Jerry: I did The Room Upstairs for CBS' Hallmark Hall Of Fame, I did something for the Disney Channel called Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven Of Bliss and I was in a series of Ragu commercials.

TB: Aren't you also in a commercial for Rondos [ice cream treats]?

Jerry: Yes, I did a Rondos commercial. I've never seen it! I always miss it when it comes on.

TB: Have you kept in touch with any of the guys from Stand By Me?

Jerry: I saw River a few months ago. We went to the same prom.

TB: For what school?

Jerry: PCS [Professional Children's School in New York City].

TB: We know River dates Martha Plimpton. Did she go to school there?

Jerry: Yes

TB: How did you get to go to a prom if you're only 14?

Jerry: I went with a junior.

TB: Dating older women, huh?

Jerry: [laughs],

TB: What did you and River talk about?

Jerry: He was telling me about the house he just moved into. I asked, "How's the family?" he said, "Good." We just talked. He said he wants to take a break, take a long vacation, because he did about four movies back to back.

TB: Did you think Stand By Me would become as successful s it did while you were filming it?

Jerry: No. We thought it would be a nice little movie, get a couple of good reviews and wouldn't be that big.

TB: How was the train scene done?

 
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Jerry: When you saw long shots of two little guys running in front of a train, those were stuntmen and they really did that. I don't know why they did that but they really ran in front of the train. I remember them coming out of that and saying "Oh that was the best, I felt the heat from the train" And the stunt guy who was looking for them from the train said, "I didn't see them, I just lost them, I didn't know whether we ran over them or not." When you see my face and the train's in back of us, that's blue screen. They film the train coming, and then they take that film and project it onto a screen. They film the train coming, and then they take that film and project it onto a screen and have us run in front of that so it looks like we're in front of a train. They made a fake trestle on the back of a truck so we had the background behind us.

TB: How do you spend your spare time?

Jerry: I like to play basketball, I like to fence. My younger brother is a New York state fencing champion. I like to boogyboard, and I just learned how to surf this summer.

TB: When's your birthday?

Jerry: February 17th. I'll be 15.

 
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