Battling Bots

TFK chats with Dakota Goyo, 12, about his new film Real Steel, now playing

Oct 07, 2011 | By Vickie An
DREAMWORKS II DISTRIBUTION CO., LLC

Dakota Goyo is going ringside! The 12-year-old rising talent stars as scrappy Max Kenton in the robot-boxing movie Real Steel. The story follows Max and his dad (played by Wolverine star Hugh Jackman) as they train an old sparring bot, Atom, to be a champion fighter. Atom goes head-to-head with robots that are much bigger, much stronger and much faster. Can the father-son team turn this junkyard underdog into a winner? Real Steel, also playing in IMAX theaters, opens today.

TFK spoke to Dakota about what it was like to work with the towering robots in the film. Read on to see what he says about that, and about his future acting plans.

TFK:

This was the first big movie you’ve worked on. Were you nervous at all?

DAKOTA GOYO:

I’ve done a couple of movies before this, but this was definitely the biggest one I’ve ever done. I wasn’t really nervous, because I just think of doing my best. Actually, I was really excited to be working with such great people.

TFK:

You play Max, a young boy who is meeting his father for the first time. How did you get into character?

DAKOTA:

It was definitely a different role from the others I’ve played. I usually play a good kid, but Max is very snotty! Right before every take, I just close my eyes and think of a place where I can get the emotion for that scene.

TFK:

What do you think of when you close your eyes?

DAKOTA:

Like, for scenes where I had to cry, I would think of [how I’d feel if] my dogs got hurt or if something bad happened to them.

TFK:

Do you have anything in common with Max?

DAKOTA:

I don’t really have anything in common with him other than we both like to play video games. I’m not as snotty as him, and I’m not allowed to use the kind of language he uses sometimes—I’d be grounded if I did! So I’m nothing like Max, except for playing video games.

TFK:

What was it like to work with Hugh Jackman?

DAKOTA:

It was unbelievable. I watch his movies, so I’ve always looked up to him as an actor. I was star struck at the beginning, but I got to know him and we became friends, so it was a great experience.

TFK:

The movie is about more than just boxing robots. It’s also about a father connecting with his son. Can you talk about the relationship between Charlie and Max, and how it changes through the movie?

DAKOTA:

Charlie had given up custody of Max when he was a baby. But now Max’s mother has died, so he goes live with Charlie until his aunt can get custody. So, Charlie takes Max for the summer and they get to know each other, and Charlie becomes the father that Max never had growing up.

TFK:

You got to show off some pretty cool dance moves in the movie. What kind of training did you do?

DAKOTA:

I never knew I could dance before doing this movie! Anne Fletcher, the choreographer, taught me moves I never knew I could do. I’ve been doing dance ever since.

TFK:

Were there any robots at all on set, or was it all special effects?

DAKOTA:

There were four real robots on set. Most of the time, we acted with the real robots. I also had to act with stunt guys on stilts and guys holding tennis balls on sticks [who stood in for robots that would be added in later]. But I’d much rather act with the real, 9-foot-tall robots. They were pretty cool.

TFK:

You might be biased towards Atom, but do you have a favorite robot from the film?

DAKOTA:

I’d have to give it to Atom! But Noisy Boy is pretty cool.

TFK:

What was the most memorable part of filming for you?

DAKOTA:

I had to dance in front of thousands of extras. That was pretty fun, because they kept cheering me on and giving me positive energy. That was probably the most memorable part. It’s something I never thought I’d do.

TFK:

If robot boxing existed, do you think you’d be a fan?

DAKOTA:

Oh yeah! I’d be the biggest fan. It’d be so cool to see real robots fighting to the death and to see sparks and arms flying everywhere!

TFK:

You’re a golf fan—do you think there will ever be robot golfers?

DAKOTA:

[Laughs] Actually, I would like to have a robot cleaning my room! Maybe there will be robot caddies, but I’m not sure about robot golfers.

TFK:

What do you think kids will enjoy about Real Steel?

DAKOTA:

Everything! The robots are really cool. You’ll fall in love with the father-son story. It’s got something for everything.

TFK:

You’ll be in another film with Hugh Jackman next year—the animated movie Rise of the Guardians. What is your role in that?

DAKOTA:

I play a boy named Jamie who still believes in [mythical] guardians, like Santa, when no one else does. Hugh plays the voice of the Easter Bunny, so that’s pretty funny. In the movie, the guardians have to come together to take down their enemies. But I don’t want to give it all away!

TFK:

What kinds of roles would you like to take on in the future?

DAKOTA:

I played the young Thor in Thor, so I’d like to do another Marvel movie. That’d be really exciting. Also, I really love horses, so a Western movie would be unbelievable to work on.