Teo Halm never figured that he would be the guy saving alien butt this summer.
Before the Los Angeles teen actor auditioned for “Earth to Echo,” he recalls, “the producers gave me a quick synopsis and said, ‘It’s about some kids who go out and explore the woods and find some wolves.’ So I read the lines thinking that I was out there in the trees looking for some wildlife. I expected to hear howling sounds in the distance.”
There weren’t any howls. But there were beeps. And other strange noises. “Earth to Echo” (now in theaters) has been called “E.T.” with a twist of “Stand By Me.”
Halm plays a foster child named Alex who takes a personal interest in saving an otherworldly creature.
“The director, Dave Green, called me and said, ‘You got the part, but, uh, Teo we need to talk. This movie isn’t actually about wolves at all. Here is the real story: You are in the woods, but you’re looking for this alien creature named Echo, who is lost.’ ”
Halm switched gears.
“Hey, I didn’t care about those wolves although that sounded cool, too. This is my first big feature film. I’m 15 years old. I didn’t care what we were looking for in those woods!” he says.
On other days, Halm and his co-stars biked under desert heat in Valencia, Calif. “It was 110-plus degrees and we had to wear multiple layers of clothes,” he moans. “I was wearing a T-shirt, thermals and a sweater. One of the kids actually got heatstroke.”
Soon, Halm will appear as Frank Sullivan in the upcoming “Bukowski,” directed by James Franco. It’s the story of writer Charles Bukowski’s young life and his struggles with an abusive father, disfiguring acne and alcohol addiction before he started writing. The film also stars Tim Blake Nelson, Alex Kingston and Josh Peck.
He also worked with Franco on “Memoria,” revolving around an anti-social, self-conscious boy living in Palo Alto dealing with the subculture of punks and skateboarders.
For Halm, fan recognition has been “pretty cool.”
“So far, there have been a few girls in airports who have said, ‘Aren’t you the guy from that alien movie?’ I always look over my shoulder like they’re talking about some other guy.”