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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jake T. Austin Talks The Emoji Movie

Jul 25, 2017

By: Lynn Barker

You’ve probably seen The Emoji Movie actor Jake T. Austin, now 22,  as Max in “Wizards of Waverly Place” or “The Fosters” on TV. He also voices Blue Beetle on “Teen Titans”. Jake isn’t new to voice work. He has provided the voice of Fernando in Rio and Rio 2 and many other animated movies and TV shows as well as making an appearance in several feature films

Jake T. Austin with his character Alex in The Emoji MovieJake with his character AlexCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Now Jake voices Alex, a withdrawn teen who likes a girl at school but can’t tell her. His emojis help him out…or do they? Jake admits he is more outgoing than Alex but certainly uses emojis daily in his texts. 

Kidzworld: Did they show you any drawings of your character Alex before you recorded the voice?

  • Jake: They showed me a script so I didn’t have any visual animation things. I was told how the character would be and made him as unlike myself as possible. It was really surreal to watch the animation be completed.

Kidzworld: Tell me about Alex. He has a bit of teenage angst and anxiety especially when it comes to a girl he likes. How are you or were you like him and how very different?

  • Jake: In real life I’m more outgoing than the character most of the time so I definitely had to play someone who is a little bit different from me. But I’m somewhat similar. I had a more unusual upbringing working on sets and auditioning but I think Alex is really relatable to real life especially with technology today. There are so many kids who are dependent on it and don’t want to talk to each other. Society’s been kind of closed off. If there is a message to take away from this film it’s that being different is okay. You don’t have to fit in. It’s okay to be original and different. Also to interact and have real conversations with people.

Alex tries to talk to Addie (with her friends)Alex tries to talk to Addie (with her friends)Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Kidzworld: He’s the center of the film in a way because all these emoji’s exist to make sure he can communicate better on his phone. Gotta ask, do you use emojis a lot when texting etc.?

  • Jake: I use emojis almost every day. Sometimes, for good reasons, other times for…other reasons. I think now that I’m in the film, I’m more conscious of the emojis. I’m looking at which ones don’t exist, which ones can be made to fit more life situations. I’m really impressed with how they were able to build this story just around emojis.

Kidzworld: Which emoji gets the most use on your phone?

  • Jake: The monkeys. I don’t know why. I just use them all the time.

Things are getting freaky in Alex's phoneThings are getting freaky in Alex's phoneCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Kidzworld: I think using emojis might help clarify the tone of what you are texting. My texts have been misunderstood because someone took a joke seriously whereas a winking emoji might have clarified what I meant. Have you found that?

  • Jake: Yeah, people don’t get sarcasm in a text message. Yes, emojis can be misleading and that has definitely happened to me several times or I’ve texted the wrong person the wrong emoji. I’d be texting my girlfriend and accidentally texting someone else. It could create some awkward situations when you use the wrong emojis. You’ve always got to double check. Make what you are saying clear.

Kidzworld: You’ve done a ton of voice work. Was recording this film any different? Did you get to record with any other actors?  

  • Jake: I was pretty much by myself in the recording studio the whole movie. I was able to meet everyone once the film was completed but I was pretty much alone doing it and got familiar with the character and the story because I had a lot of time to figure out who Alex was in the movie. The director was hands on giving me feedback on certain lines.

Alex with Trevor at the computer storeAlex with Trevor at the computer storeCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Kidzworld: You speak Spanish. Are they doing a Spanish version of the film?

  • Jake: If they do the film in Spanish, I should do the voice. I am bi-lingual. I’m going to speak to my manager today about that.

Kidzworld: Both “Wizards of Waverly Place” and “The Fosters” were the usually grueling TV series schedules. Are you kind of glad to have that grind over for now? Animated voice recording is so different.

  • Jake: I think part of me is happy to work on voice overs because I’m so prepared in that area. I’ve done a lot so when I get the chance to do one, I really love it but I think I kind of miss doing some live-action stuff. My last series my fans wanted more out of the character I was given. They were used to me acting more in other roles. If I were to come back to T.V. it would have to be a role where I really do some acting. I’d like to do something different.

Jake when he was on The FostersJake when he was on The FostersCourtesy of ABC

Kidzworld: Alex is on his phone in class. Have you done that? Or been scolded for playing games when you were supposed to be alert at a table read or something??

  • Jake: I always use my phone. I sometimes feel like I’m too dependent on it like Alex in the film. I have to say to myself, “Do I really have to be on my phone right now?” But, it’s saved me from boredom in so many situations. But, I think Alex, in the film is too dependent on it. He’s unbelievably selfish because he doesn’t want to talk to anybody else. All he wants to do is communicate through his phone.

Kidzworld: How do the Emojis in his phone get Alex in trouble? Then how do they help him?

  • Jake: The emojis try to help Alex talk to this girl he likes and they end up sending some embarrassing messages that put him in an awkward position. So he has to learn to communicate without his phone. The emojis in the movie have to learn how to exist without needing someone like Alex which is its own adventure.

Alex finds too many emojis to choose fromAlex finds too many emojis to choose fromCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Kidzworld: You do a voice on “Teen Titans” (Blue Beetle). Do you wish the filmmakers would add Teen Titans to the DC film universe?

  • Jake: That would be rad! I’d love to be Blue Beetle. I think they might get ready to do that. Put out the word. My fans would love that!

Kidzworld: Do you want to direct in future for animated or feature films and TV?  Have you made small films with buddies?

  • Jake: Yeah, I always love being creative, especially as a Latino artist, (his mom is of Puerto Rican, Argentine, and Spanish descent), I’d like to bring roles and truth to my culture in portrayals in film and television and bring those stories to light. That’s important to me as an actor and a filmmaker. I hope my fans can be excited to see that in the future.

Kidzworld: What’s next for you?

  • Jake: My fans can look out for new projects as well as my App that just launched,  smarturl.it/JakeAustin.  Fans can get lost in the main space of social media. It’s a direct place for me to communicate with my most dedicated fans. I do giveaways, experiences and cool prizes and share a piece of my life with them that I wouldn’t necessarily put on any other social media page. Exclusive content there.

The Emoji Movie PosterThe Emoji Movie PosterCourtesy of Sony Pictures

See The Emoji Movie Friday, July 28th

Have Your Say

Are you a Jake T. Austin fan? What kind of movie or TV show would you like to see him do next? Do you use a lot of emojis? Get communicating with a comment below!