Magazine article The New Yorker

Newbie

Magazine article The New Yorker

Newbie

Article excerpt

Sam Shakusky, the protagonist of Wes Anderson's new movie, "Moonrise Kingdom," is a classic romantic hero. He's independent, even a bit of a loner; resourceful (he can survive in the woods by himself); and passionate. Only one obstacle prevents him from being with his love interest, Suzy Bishop: he's twelve.

The film, set in 1965, takes place on an idyllic island off New England. Shakusky, a rogue Khaki Scout, and Bishop, a troubled girl, run away together and are pursued by the island's authority figures. Despite its hectic plot, the film has a formal, naive quality, a result of the script ("Jiminy Cricket, he flew the coop!" Shakusky's Scoutmaster says), and of the fact that its child stars have never acted professionally before. Anderson, who took inspiration from the Francois Truffaut film "Small Change," has described his directing style as "filming a documentary of these kids acting." Shakusky, especially, has a croaky voice and a squinty, adolescent swagger that make the adult actors seem like footnotes to the main event.

In real life, Sam Shakusky is Jared Gilman, a seventh grader from South Orange, New Jersey. Unlike his character, Jared is not an outdoors person--he prefers video games, such as Red Dead Redemption and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, to canoeing. Whereas Sam is an orphan, Jared gets plenty of parental attention. He is an only child, whose parents--Rick, a communications consultant, and Leslie, who works as an account representative at the magazine Matters--spend a lot of time ferrying him to various lessons.

"Jared's been golfing since he was three," his mother said the other day at the Hyatt Hills golf complex.

"I think the golf set was a birthday present from someone," Jared said. He had a pouf of black hair falling into his eyes, and wore glasses--like his character--and a blue Argyle sweater. He was lugging a golf bag that came up to his shoulder.

"I try to avoid playing with my son," his father said. "He's always telling me, 'No, you can't touch that! It's a penalty!' "

Jared greeted his golf instructor, a stern pro named Leo Tabick, and they headed to a driving range. "Jared's an outstanding ball striker," Tabick said, noting that his pupil will be playing in the New Jersey P.G.A. Junior Tour. Jared selected a pitching wedge and then a sand wedge from the bag. "I usually start doing smaller chip shots," he said, but this time he went right to short pitches. …

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