1883 Magazine
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In the past, we came to love him as Susan Sarandon’s adorable son in Stepmom and then the young yet brainy bookworm in Lemony Snicket, but now, Liam Aiken is all grown up. With two films released this year, coming of age flick Electrick Children and Chadd Harbold’s comedy How to be a Man, Liam continues to surprise and excite audiences with his constant reinvention and impressive evolution.

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For a young boy wanting to cut his teeth in the world of acting, what better place to grow up than under the bright lights of New York City. It’s the perfect scene and it paints the perfect picture for a young actor trying to make it big. However, in reality, Liam’s reasons for getting into the game were purely practical. “When I was very young, my father passed away and that had the most profound effect on my career choice,” he reflects. “My mum decided that I should have some sort of college fund, so she started me doing commercials and acting.” After his first couple of jobs, Aiken was hooked. “My mum is an artist, so once she saw that I was enjoying it, so she absolutely fostered that and helped me grow. Once my career really took off, it became all about making sure that I was making really good choices.” It would be these important influences that would prove to have an indelible effect on his career.

When it comes to his roster of co-stars, at 22-years-old not many actors can boast one more impressive. Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Charlize Theron, Tom Hanks and Jim Carey are just some of the prestigious names that Aiken has worked alongside. And when you can list those who represent the very best in their field as you close colleagues and confidents, you know some that of that brilliance must have rubbed off. “As I was so young, I wasn’t intimidated and I think that opened me up to receiving different kinds of information from them. The work is important to me because I worked with people who took it very seriously and understood it as a craft."

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You don’t find yourself in the company of such great actors without featuring in the odd blockbuster or two. By his awkward teenager years - while the rest of us were popping pimples, getting braces fitted and trying to impress the cool kids - Liam had already starred in Stepmom (1998), Road to Perdition (2002) and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004). However, despite his impressive resume, Liam was notably still a kid. And due to the expensive and high profile nature of the productions, the pressure of being part of such a project would have been palpable. Or so you would assume. “When I was younger, I didn’t have that sense of intimidation that I might be aware of now. I think I’m fortunate because you can get sucked into that mind set where your think about the insane amount of money it is costing to make this film happen. Though actually, that doesn’t really play into the world of what’s happening on camera.” As Aiken has been part of both big budget films and smaller indie productions, he is able to step back and look at, not only the differences between them, but also the effects it has on his performance. “On a bigger project, you have the time and budget to do multiples takes and start to explain in detail all the different aspects of a scene. You have the chance to hone in on something more specific and I think that elicits a totally different performance. With an independent film, I’m more in charge of the character and what I’m bringing to the scene.”

One of those indies, is Liam’s upcoming flick, Electrick Children. When he talks about this film - which was written and directed by Rebecca Thomas - the bravado and arrogant self-importance often evident in other actors, is non-existent. His refreshingly genuine affection and passion for the project is plain to see, and with the film being officially selected by SXSW and Woodstock Film Festivals, it is clear that others share his adoration.“The script was the main draw. I was intrigued and excited about the project and I had this feeling that there was so much more to the script than I had initially taken in. It was clear that Rebecca had a greater scope in mind, greater than what was just written on the page.” With none of the lead actors over twenty-four years old, the age of the cast marks another change between Electrick Children and Aiken’s previous films. “This cast is so energetic, capable and I also saw a lot of maturity. There was no beginners luck. There was this really sharp intent and profound understanding of what was needed for each scene. There was also so much fun, playfulness and excited passion about what we were doing. Everyone was really ready to do something different."

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Despite this huge amount of success so early on in life, Liam still appears unassuming, easy going and perhaps even slightly shy when talking about his past endeavors. Saying that, he still emits an irrepressible drive and a distinct clarity when it comes to what fulfills him in his career. “I really respond to performance based art. Ican appreciate a good story, but usually I focus on how it’s being portrayed. Ingenuity in storytelling really satisfies me and I’m excited by so many different projects. In the future, I would love to do a film with a punky, trashed out sort of vibe. A project that’s really raw, weird and inane.”

Though he may be trying to shed the ‘child star’ label - a tag that brings about the fall of so many fledgling actors - Liam is being smart. Instead of trying to mature too quickly with roles unsuited to his youthful exterior, the parts he is selecting are age appropriate.

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Furthermore, despite his tender years, he has already tried his hand at many genres, a far wider scope of roles than many of this contemporaries. With an abundance of classic dramas and edge-of-your-seat thrillers to his name, Liam has decided to add one more to his resume, grown-up comedy. How to be a Man, out later this year, sees Aiken star opposite Paul Costanzo as one part of a mismatched duo. “I play the straight man in the comedy, a college student who films a middle-aged man (Costanzo) who wants to make a documentary for his son about how to be a man. My character is constantly reacting to this crazy, older punked-out guy and it’s about letting go and acquiring a different lifestyle. It’s sort of a bizarre combination. Our characters are juxtaposed in a lot of ways.” 

With so many cases of child actors, unable to deal with the harsh and unforgiving nature of the limelight, burning out before they get a proper chance, the importance for Aiken to make the right decisions has never been more crucial. We are thankful to say that, so far, he is doing a pretty good job of it. This is one guy that is all about the work and because of that, I really cannot wait to see what he does next.

Words by

Photographer Natalie Neal
Fashion Natalie Neal
Makeup by Yasuko Shapiro
Hair by Emily Hedicke
Photo Assistant Jordan Scheinberg
Production Assistant RaeAn Medina

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