Things are moving quickly in Hollywood for Roberto Aguire — or so you might think. The 24-year-old actor graduated from New York University last year, landed his first big role in Glee star Chris Colfer’s new film, Struck By Lightning, and is best friends with actress Emma Watson of Harry Potter fame.
All that’s true, but it’s not the whole story.
Nor do those early successes guarantee Roberto a long, star-studded career.
As he explained in his LSY! interview, Roberto was relentless in his pursuit of a Warner Bros. internship that led to him working on the set of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (which, in turn, also led to his unexpected but strong friendship with Emma). Roberto works hard on networking. In fact, he impresses the people around him so much that the Struck By Lightning filmmakers brought him on as a producer as well as an actor. And he’ll be the first to tell you that the only response to landing a big role is to work even harder for the next one.
There’s no relaxing in Roberto Aguire’s version of Hollywood. You’ve got to create your own luck – or make your own lightning … and that’s exactly what he’s doing.
Here is Roberto’s interview with LSY! teen reporters Rebekah Dunn and Amelia Gilmer and LSY! founder Tim O’Shei, edited for length and clarity:
You acted in Chris Colfer’s Struck By Lightning and served as a producer too. What did you take away from it?
Roberto: A really complete experience. I got to experience everything on the movie. I was there from the very beginning when we were working on the script and the very final day, when we were done and ready to show it to audience groups. As an actor, you don’t get to see that. You go in, do your work, and step back until it’s all ready. But as a producer I got to see people being cast; I got to see the everyday shooting of the movie, what was going on behind the scenes. And then afterwards, in post-production, I got to see all the little things I guess you would consider “movie magic.”
Roberto: Here’s something that I didn’t know: There’s actually a guy who sits down and watches the movie and makes sure that every single little sound effect is perfect. Let’s say that someone is wearing a skirt or a dress and when they sit down on a chair it makes a little rustling sound. He goes back and makes sure that rustling sound is exactly the right volume and pitch so it doesn’t seem awkward or weird. And he does that for every sound in the movie. I had no idea that someone actually did that because it takes so long. So that was really cool to find out those little things that people don’t normally hear about.
You’ve worked behind the scenes previously as an intern on the fourth Harry Potter movie. How did you get that internship?
Roberto: A lot of letters to Warner Bros. I can’t remember how many letters I sent them, asking for any internship I could do anywhere. I had no idea that I’d be on Harry Potter and then suddenly they were like, “Oh yeah, we’re flying you out for this internship that we have, right outside of London.” And I thought, Oh cool, some small British movie!
Suddenly I show up and it says “Harry Potter.” Can you imagine? I was blown away. I thought, This is a joke; there is no way I’m actually going to work on Harry Potter.
Can you give an example of the type of work you did?
Roberto: They put me in the special-effects department. There’s a scene where the (Sirius Black) actor Gary Oldman’s face appears in the fire to talk to Harry. I ended up putting all the little red dots on (Oldman’s) face for the visual effects track. Can you imagine! I’m freaking out! I was like, “Oh my god I’m touching your face!” I was literally dying. He, obviously, was not.
Chris Colfer’s fan base is huge. By working with him as an actor and producer on Struck By Lightning, have you gained fans?
Roberto: Yeah, definitely. I’ve gotten tons of fans, especially on Twitter, because of Chris. They’re so supportive of everyone in Chris’ circle that suddenly I’m like a member of his family. I have people who say, “Thank you so much for helping Chris with his project, and producing it.” You know, that’s a loving fan base. It’s so nice; you feel so much support for everything. At the end of the day, the only reason we can have the worldwide impact we have as actors is because of the fans. People support us and what we do and are willing to be there 100 percent. You can’t buy that.
Is being an actor everything you thought it would be? Have there been any surprises or disappointments?
Roberto: Great question. No, it’s everything I was hoping it would be. Being an actor is the most fun job in the world. We get to pretend to be someone else for a living. We get to play different people and live different lives. You feel so full of life and so powerful too because you’re touching people who are watching you. They’re laughing, or they’re crying. They are being moved in certain ways, they’re living certain experiences that you are allowing them to live. For me, that’s such a powerful medium. There is nothing else in the world that I’d rather do.
I think the surprising part is there is a lot of business to acting that people don’t realize. You have to deal with the industry and that’s something I don’t think a lot of people usually prepare for. But when you’re acting there is nothing like it.
What are some realities of the entertainment business that people wouldn’t know until they’re in it?
Roberto: They don’t really realize how much work it is. People just kind of think that one day you suddenly get a lucky break and then everything starts piling on to your lap and it’s smooth sailing from there. I think that’s the biggest misconception: People think that it’s really smooth ride that you sit back and relax. But, it’s not true. You’re working every day and sometimes all night long to try to prepare. You work so hard at making your life and your career. You work so hard at making more opportunities for yourself and keeping yourself busy.
Can you fill us in on exactly what that hard work involves beyond the acting itself?
Roberto: One of the things people forget is that we’re constantly auditioning. Even actors at much higher levels, who have been acting for years and who are extremely famous, still have to audition. The amount of preparation you have to do for auditions, like memorizing lines and deciding what type of performance you want to deliver, takes up a lot of time. Once you audition, sometimes you get a callback. And then from a callback you get another callback and then you go on to meeting the producers. It’s a very long process.
There’s also planning: Sitting down with your manager, your agent, your publicist and planning what route you want to take, where you at right now, what you’re hoping to achieve in the next month, two months. That kind of planning is a process; it doesn’t ever “end.”
You also go to events where you find creative people you might want to work with on a project in the future. It’s those things that keep actors really, really busy and keep you working hard at what you want to do.
How much of that work is spent developing and maintaining your “look”? And by that I mean everything from working out to making sure your skin is clear.
Roberto: It’s a huge, huge deal. As actors, we are the final product. We are what you’re going to hire. So if we aren’t on our A-game in terms of the way we look all the time, it’s an issue. We have to take care of our skin, of our teeth, of our hair, of our bodies. We have to just make sure that we are constantly presentable, and that extends outward to looking at your clothing.
In terms of our work as professionals, yes, you have to look very, very good. But that extends also to our roles. You constantly see actors that are gaining weight, losing weight, gaining muscle, gaining fat. It’s our instrument, so we get to adapt it to whatever role we want to play. And I think that’s the fun part of being an actor. You can play with the way you look. You don’t always have to look a certain way and people will excuse you looking the way you are because you’re doing a movie or a TV show that requires that from you.
As a guy, does that create pressure on you in terms of maintaining your look and knowing people are going to judge you in part on your looks?
Roberto: Yeah, it is tough, but you accept it as something you have to live through in the industry. For me to get the opportunity to do what I love, I have to sacrifice the fact that people are going to be constantly judging the way that I look. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make and deal with and almost use to my advantage. I think that the more you look at things as an impediment, the more difficult it is for you to surpass it. But if you look at everything that are usually seen as a negative and see it as a positive, I think that it gets you along a lot farther more quickly.
We know you met Emma Watson while working on Harry Potter and become best friends with her. Has she also been like a mentor to you in the acting business?
Roberto: Yeah, definitely. She’s been amazing and that’s what best friends are for. You don’t always have the opportunity to have your best friend be such a celebrity. She’s been really good at giving me advice with publicity, and giving me advice in terms of the projects that I should choose and the path that I should go down. It’s interesting: Because she’s at such a different level in her career than where I am, we give each other advice from an outsider’s perspective.
What is something specific she helped you with?
Roberto: I have a great example: I had never walked a red carpet before Struck By Lightning. I was so nervous; I didn’t know what to expect. And luckily I could turn to her, and I asked her what to expect and what to do. She gave me great pointers. There are these great pictures online of the two of us together and that was the moment when she was showing me exactly what to do. For me, that was a really, really special moment. I had my first red carpet be with my best friend. (Editor’s note: Want to know Emma’s red-carpet tips for Roberto? Check back soon!)
Interviewers Rebekah Dunn and Amelia Gilmer are LSY! teen reporters from Mount St. Mary Academy in Buffalo, New York. Children’s and young-adult author and pop-culture teacher Tim O’Shei is the founder of LSY!