actor stars in Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Fabelmans’ – mySA

“I was just thinking, Spielberg, Spielberg, Spielberg,” Cantu, 19, told MySA during an interview in early September. “I was going to meet the guy who made Jaws and all these great, classic movies. I just knew working with him would be a life-changing experience.”

The Fabelmans, which opens at local theaters on Wednesday, November 23, is a coming-of-age, semi-autobiographical drama that follows a young Spielberg growing up as an aspiring filmmaker. Instead of Spielberg using his own name, the lead character is renamed Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle), a 16-year-old kid who wants nothing more than to make movies.

Cantu plays Hark, a fellow Boy Scout who stars in the movies Sammy makes after he and his family move to Phoenix. In one of Sammy’s early films, Hark is cast as a gunslinging cowboy who gets shot off a cliff. In another, he plays a WWII soldier. When Hark is introduced, he’s helping Sammy collect scorpions in the Arizona desert, so he can sell them and buy film for his movie camera.

(from left) Roger (Gabriel Bateman), Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle), Hark (Nicolas Cantu), and Dean (Lane Factor) in The Fabelmans, co-written, produced and directed by Steven Spielberg.

(from left) Roger (Gabriel Bateman), Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle), Hark (Nicolas Cantu), and Dean (Lane Factor) in The Fabelmans, co-written, produced and directed by Steven Spielberg.

Merie Weismiller Wallace/Univers

“I was never a Boy Scout, but I did watch some Boy Scout videos from the 1950s and 1960s to prepare,” Cantu said. “There was a lot of energy on that set.”

Casting for The Fabelmans took place during the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of 2021. Cantu said he submitted a taped audition for the lead role, which ultimately went to LaBelle. He was then offered the role of Hark, a character he describes as “very fun.” In July 2021, Cantu found himself on the set of The Fabelmans being directed by one of the most acclaimed filmmakers in cinematic history.

“I would be on set and would just look over and think, ‘Damn, that’s Steven Spielberg!’” Cantu said. “He has this power. You know he’s going to make the movie he wants to make. I’ve been very fortunate to book jobs where I’m working with really good people. That’s always an important part of it for me.”

(from left) Sal (Gustavo Escobar), Roger (Gabriel Bateman), Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle), Hark (Nicolas Cantu), Dean (Lane Factor) and Turkey (Cooper Dodson) in The Fabelmans, co-written, produced and directed by Steven Spielberg.

(from left) Sal (Gustavo Escobar), Roger (Gabriel Bateman), Sammy Fabelman (Gabriel LaBelle), Hark (Nicolas Cantu), Dean (Lane Factor) and Turkey (Cooper Dodson) in The Fabelmans, co-written, produced and directed by Steven Spielberg.

Merie Weismiller Wallace/Univers

Born in Austin, Cantu was raised in San Antonio and went to Stone Oak Elementary until the age of 10. He and his family then moved to Los Angeles, so he could pursue a career in film and TV. Before The Fabelmans, Cantu starred in two seasons of the zombie spinoff series The Walking Dead: World Beyond. He’s also lent his voice to several animated shows including the 2016 reboot of The Powerpuff Girls, Lego Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures and The Amazing World of Gumball, where he voiced the title character, a blue cat named Gumball Watterson.

After spending eight years in Hollywood, Cantu moved back to San Antonio in late August. He plans to continue auditioning for roles and writing his own screenplays.

When asked how he will top starring in a Spielberg movie, Cantu joked: “You don’t. I’m quitting after this. As soon as [The Fabelmans] comes out, I’m done. It’s over.”

In reality, it’s far from over for Cantu, and San Antonio can’t wait to see what’s next for the rising star.

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