Jacob Tremblay is on a mission: “I want kids to choose kindness.”
It’s a message deftly delivered in his new tearjerker, Wonder. Based on the 2012 bestseller, the film follows Auggie, a fifth grader with facial differences whose parents (Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) enroll him in school for the first time.
Still, the Room alum, 11, insists his character is just like Us. “We all want to be accepted and respected.”
Tremblay inspires Us with more:
Us Weekly: How did you prepare to play Auggie?
Jacob Tremblay: My parents and I found a group of kids from Sickkids Hospital in Toronto. They sent me so many beautiful letters with their stories. I put them in a binder and took it with me everywhere. In between scenes, I would read them and it really helped me get into Auggie.
Us: Hardest aspect of the role?
JT: The prosthetics. There were a bunch of different pieces: a neck piece that went up to my eyes, a helmet that had a mechanism that pulled my lower eyelids down, a main face piece, a wig, dentures and contact lenses. I sat in makeup for two hours a day, then 30 minutes to take it off. But producers got me a giant iPad and I binge-watched Stranger Things!
Us: What was your reaction the very first time you saw yourself as Auggie?
JT: I thought it was awesome! It looked so realistic. I really felt like him.
Us: How did Julia Roberts act like your mom off screen?
JT: She is so great! Not too long ago, I was in Dubai for my birthday. All of a sudden, this guy came into my room and he had a bunch of heart-shaped balloons that said “Happy Birthday.” I opened the letter and they were from Julia. I was like, “How did she know I was going to be here?” She’s like Santa Claus!
Us: What advice do you give to kids being bullied?
JT: Kill them with kindness. And if it doesn’t work, ignore it. I know that’s a really hard thing to do, but it really does help. You can never give up no matter how rude kids are being to you or how much they’re judging you. Choose to be you.
Wonder is in theaters Friday, November 17.