In “Real Steel” 12 year old Dakota Goyo boxes, dances and goes toe-to-toe with actor Hugh Jackman. I recently spoke with him about the movie and his career:
LCJ: In “Real Steel” you play Hugh Jackman’s son, Max, who discovers an old boxing robot and together you try to make him into a champion. The movie is filled with very large robots. How often were there actual robots on set and how much was CGI?
Dakota Goyo: Probably around 50% real and 50% CGI. When you see in scenes when the robots are not moving then they are real. When you see the robots moving, especially when they’re moving their legs, then they’re CGI because the real robots could only move their hands and head.
LCJ: So you had to work with CGI robots in a lot of the scenes. Was this the first time you had to work with invisible co-stars and was it difficult?
DG: We did have Atom in a lot of those scenes with me. When he picks me up and I look into his eyes he was actually there. But a lot of the times I’d just be screaming into a tennis ball in the area. So it was much more difficult than having a human as a co-star.
LCJ: Were you a boxing fan before you got this part?
DG: I heard that Sugar Ray Leonard was going to be involved in the movie and training us. He’s such a nice guy. I’ve always been a boxing fan – also UFC and Mixed Martial Arts. My brothers are into it so they taught me a few things and me and my dad trained. It was a lot of fun.
LCJ: Did you get to work at all with Sugar Ray Leonard, who, I know, helped train High Jackman for the movie?
DG: No, Hugh Jackman was the only one who trained with Sugar Ray Leonard. I wish I had gotten to train with him. I got to meet him at the LA premiere last week. He’s such a nice guy.
LCJ: But you do get to dance in this movie. Was that a lot of fun – and did you have to be taught those dance moves?
DG: I never knew I could dance. Some of the moves I knew I could do so I just threw a lot of them together. I told our choreographer I couldn’t dance and she taught me some more moves and I’ve been dancing ever since. Dancing in front of thousands of extras was very overwhelming. They were all going to scream no matter what so I just went out there and did the best I could.
LCJ: You have some scenes with Evangeline Lily in the movie. Was she nice to work with?
DG: She so sweet and so pretty. To get to work with the girl from “Lost” was so great. Me and my older brother had been watching all of the “Lost” episodes, even before I started working on “Real Steel”, so seeing her face on the TV screen and then in real life – on the outside I was like “no big deal”, but on the inside I was going crazy.
LCJ: Looking at your career, one of your earliest roles was in another sports movie, which not too many people saw (though I did) – “Resurrecting the Champ”, with Samuel L. Jackson. What was your experience on that film?
DG: I was only six. Working with Samuel L. Jackson and Josh Hartnett was so much fun. I was so young. I had a teacher on set with me and we played a lot of games between scenes. It was such a big world for such a little kid. And to have all these big stars around was very exciting.
LCJ: Recently you played the younger version of “The God of Thunder” himself, in “Thor”. What was it like working with Sir Anthony Hopkins, another huge movie star?
DG: He is such a great guy and a legendary movie star. Getting the chance to work with someone like Anthony Hopkins doesn’t come everyday. It’s certainly something I never thought I’d get to do. Getting to work with people like Hugh Jackson and Anthony Hopkins has been great.
LCJ: You’re re-uniting with High Jackson in next year’s animated film: “Rise of the Guardians” from DreamWorks. I’m really looking forward to this film. Did you get to meet him while you were doing your voice work for “Guardians” or not until “Real Steel”?
DG: I didn’t meet Hugh until “Real Steel”. We had separate recording sessions for that film, but it’s going to be great to hear how they put the voices together so it sounds like I’m talking to him. Obviously it’s a lot more difficult because I didn’t have him there to work with so you have to use your imagination a lot.
LCJ: Did you always have a dream when you were younger than you wanted to voice an animated character?
DG: I watched a lot of cartoon when I was little so I guess I did. I always watched “Arthur” and so when I got to voice the twins that was a dream come true.
LCJ: What’s more fun for you – voicing an animated character or playing a real-life character?
DG: Doing an animated film is fun because you can go to work in your pajamas, not brush your teeth and be stinky and smelly and nothing happens. But if you do that on a feature film people are going to go “Disgusting!” Feature films are more exciting because you have so much more pressure on you, there’s people all around and you’re in the setting of the film. I definitely enjoy feature films more.
LCJ: What’s next for you? Do you have any other projects coming out besides “Rise of the Guardians”?
I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but the way “Real Steel” ends there’s a good chance we could be seeing a “Real Steel 2”. Would you be interested in doing a sequel?
DG: I think the whole cast and crew are hoping for a “Real Steel 2”. Getting to see each other again and working together again would be great. I’m looking at some other scripts right now. It’s been a good year, with all the movies that I’ve done.