Visalia Native, Caleb Brown, Takes the Stage
Caught in the Act
By Jordan Venema
Photos courtesy of Caleb Brown
If you haven’t yet seen Caleb Brown on film or stage, you might be excused for overlooking the pint-sized performer, but the Visalia native and 10-year-old actor has plans and goals much larger than his size.
“My retirement is going to be my funeral,” predicts the young actor, whose dream is to win an Oscar for Best Actor or Director.
The prediction might sound far-fetched from any other 10-year-old, except Caleb already has four years of acting under his belt, plus a growing resume.
“I was obsessed with all the musicals that my cousin was in,” says Caleb, explaining how he became interested in acting. He landed his first role at age 7 in Tulare County Office of Education’s “My Son Pinocchio,” and the rest was history.
“From the first moment the curtains opened, that’s when I knew,” says Caleb. “I just love the feeling of being different characters. It’s just really fun,” he continues. And as for memorizing lines? “Actually, it’s not that hard,” he states.
“Pinocchio” was followed by performances in “Seussical the Musical” and “Fiddler on the Roof,” after which Caleb sought to broaden his horizons. He signed to an agency in Los Angeles, and within a month landed his first commercial with Subway.
Caleb has since appeared in eight or nine commercials, while landing roles on TV series “Conan,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” “The Middle” and a recurring role on “The Odd Couple.”
He also played Young Sawyer on an episode of Nickelodeon’s “Bella and the Bulldog,” which was especially fun for the young actor who enjoys watching the show at home.
“It was exciting,” admits Caleb. “I was star-struck because I love that show and then met the whole cast. When I was at school, I told my friends, and one friend knew I’d get mad so he started calling me Hollywood all the time.”
But not even friendly teasing could slow Caleb down, who during the second grade began holding auditions on his playground at recess for his birthday party performance.
“He was obsessed with ‘Waterworld’ from Universal Studios,” explains his mother Monique, “and he wanted to perform a ‘Waterworld’ play at his birthday party with kids from his classroom. They put it on in the pool, with characters, and he directed, and then they took a bow.”
The self-produced and self-directed “Waterworld” performance was a hit, but it was far from Caleb’s largest. In 2016, he acted alongside Jennifer Aniston as her son in the film “Mother’s Day,” directed by Garry Marshall and staring Kate Hudson and Julia Roberts.
Young as he is, Caleb had an idea who Marshall was, but not for having created “Happy Days.”
“I was thinking,” says Caleb, “Garry Marshall – that sounds familiar. Then my mom told me that he was the devil guy from ‘Hocus Pocus,’ and I was like, ‘Oh, that Garry Marshall!’”
As for acting alongside Aniston, Caleb wasn’t fazed by her fame.
“He’d never seen ‘Friends,’” says his mother, “so he didn’t really know how big she was, though we had talked about her. Well, the first night they were filming, he and Jennifer came off set, and she was walking behind him and he turns around and said, ‘Hey Jenn, you’re doing really well in there.’ I almost died.”
Caleb has a special charisma about him, even for his youth, and in the short month of filming became close with the other actors and crew.
“I felt the cast and crew were such a big family, and working with Garry Marshall was just amazing,” says Caleb, stretching out the word amazing. “He was so sweet. I call him the grandpa I never had.”
“When he’s on set,” adds Monique, “he makes friends with the grip guys, sound guys, you name it, and every set he waits until we get into the car and he cries a little bit. He’s sad when we leave. It’s a crazy industry down there, but we’ve managed to surround ourselves with the kindest, most amazing and generous people.”
Caleb says the best advice he’s been given came from Marshall, who passed away last July.
“The number one thing that I learned was to be real,” says Caleb. “Garry was directing a scene and he told me, ‘Let’s try it this time with no acting.’ So I did.”
It’s an important lesson for anybody, and one that every young person, let alone actor, should remember: be real, be yourself, and most importantly, remember to be a kid. That doesn’t seem to be a problem for Caleb who, as committed as he is to becoming Visalia’s next big actor, still has time to be a kid. When asked what he was doing before this interview, he answered matter-of-factly, “I was in the middle of playing video games,” and laughed. •
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