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Exclusive Interview: Gabriel Bateman Can Think Like a Dog!

The star of Child’s Play is in a new family-friendly film.

Jun 08, 2020

How does one “Think Like a Dog”? Decide that love plus family and a simple life equal joy.  Teen actor Gabriel Bateman, who will be 16 in September, plays middle school science whiz Ollie in the film. When Ollie and a pal in China invent a way for humans (in this case Ollie) to hear and understand the thoughts of dogs (his best canine pal Henry) they are thought to be a possible threat to the nation and have to hide their invention from both the Feds and a greedy scientist. Meanwhile, Ollie is trying to repair the marriage of his attractive parents (Megan Fox and Josh Duhamel). Quite a challenge for a bright kid!

Think Like a Dog Movie Trailer



You might have seen Gabe recently as lead character Andy in the re-make of the scary Child’s Play. Before that he played main characters in Annabelle, the scary Lights Out and a doggie-centric re-make of Benji on Netflix. He is the youngest of eight kids, four older bros and three older sisters, among them 18-year-old actress Talitha Bateman who was in Annabelle Creation, Love Simon and Geostorm.

Gabriel BatemanGabriel BatemanCourtesy of Lionsgate

We wondered if Gabe is also fond of science like his character Ollie, if he has a pet, what cool things happened on set and what it was like to have hot Megan Fox and Josh Duhamel of the Transformers films play his parents. Zero in and we will tell you.

Love plus family plus a simple life equal happy!Love plus family plus a simple life equal happy!Courtesy of Lionsgate

Kidzworld: Gabe, you’ve been in quite a few scary movies and TV shows. After Lights Out and Child’s Play, was it a relief to play a very smart young guy in a not frightening but uplifting film?

  • Gabe: As far as doing scary movies goes, I’m not drawn to doing anything because of the genre. It really just depends on the character and the script. The reason I wanted to take this one is I really just related to the family dynamic and how honest and sensitive the script was. I mean even if you aren’t going through a divorce, you can relate to a lot of what Oliver (Ollie) and his family go through. That’s what I connected to and then Oliver as a person is such a cool character. I’m also interested in science but not to the same extent that he is. That was cool. I related to a lot of it.

 Kidzworld: Which of his inventions did you like most?

  • Gabe: There’s one where the dog puts his paw down and food automatically comes out. That would be cool to have. I have a cat which I’m really happy I just found. I like dogs too though.

Ollie's dog Henry wears early version of his inventionOllie's dog Henry wears early version of his inventionCourtesy of Lionsgate

Kidzworld: Was there a prankster or jokester on set?  If so what did they do?

  • Gabe: I feel like the whole crew was pranking each other the whole time. At the very end of filming, one of the members of the crew organized this huge thing where I think two hundred people had three cans of silly string each and they just unloaded it all on me.

Kidzworld: Yikes! How did you bond with the doggie actor in the film? I think he is a labradoodle.  Did you hang out and play with him a while before filming? Was there more than one dog playing the part of Henry?  

  • Gabe: I think it was two or three dogs. But Jayce was the dog I probably spent ninety percent of the time with. It was really helpful because their whole team had me meet with all the dogs and especially Jayce like a week or two before filming. Pretty much any off day I had after shooting, I would go and spend like two or three hours just playing with them and trying to learn as many tricks as I could like how to make them sit or speak just in case they would use that while filming. So, by the time we actually starting filming, I’d had like a week and a half to bond with them.

Gabe bonded with lead dog playing HenryGabe bonded with lead dog playing HenryCourtesy of Lionsgate

Kidzworld: When you were “talking” with the dog, was somebody reading his lines to you on set so you could react? 

  • Gabe: I had someone reading all of Henry’s lines off camera while filming on set which was really helpful because I had worked with the guy before in Benji (Netflix movie) so I already had some chemistry with him which was really necessary for a lot of the scenes I had with Henry. That helped a lot.

Kidzworld: Both Josh Duhamel and Megan Fox were in the Transformers films. Had you watched those and did you three talk about them at all?

  • Gabe: We never talked about them but I did watch them so I was pretty star struck to have both of them as parents at the same time! It was really cool to be projected as their kid. I didn’t talk specifically about Transformers but I definitely did talk about some of their movies with them. Especially with Megan. But almost every actor that I’ve worked with who has played my parent has given me some kind of advice. Just little things along with way but nothing particular.

Megan Fox and Josh Duhamel play Ollie's parentsMegan Fox and Josh Duhamel play Ollie's parentsCourtesy of Lionsgate

Kidzworld: How about Kunal Nayyar as Mills? Very different from his long-time role as Rajesh on “The Big Bang Theory”. What is he like to work with?

  • Gabe: He was great. He was a really powerful presence in all the scenes he was in. Really great to play alongside him. He was great off set too. I remember one time there was this storm with lightening. He went out and grabbed a bunch of umbrellas without carrying one. They were for the rest of the crew and some of the cast. He’s a great guy.

Kunal Nayyar plays Mills, mentor or baddie?Kunal Nayyar plays Mills, mentor or baddie?Courtesy of Lionsgate

Kidzworld: What was the most difficult scene to film for you and most fun scene?

  • Gabe: Most difficult was probably a really emotional scene where I call out my parents by the stairs. Pretty hard to film and exhausting after a while. Probably the most fun would be any scene I had with the whole family and Jayce (the dog) was a lot of fun to film. One scene during the science fair where this kid is wearing a magnetic helmet and he goes flying up into the air, that is actually the director Gil Junger’s son Will and it was really funny to watch him flying all over the place. That was my favorite scene to watch.

Kidzworld: Where did you shoot the movie and did you get to be a tourist there at all?

  • Gabe: I shot in New Orleans. Every time I go there I’m like a tourist because it is such an amazing city but I’d shot there twice before this. I went on an alligator tour. It has so much culture. I spent as much time as I could out in the city.  

Ollie likes Sophie and dog Henry likes her dog!Ollie likes Sophie and dog Henry likes her dog!Courtesy of Lionsgate

Kidzworld: What musical performer or group are you into right now?

  • Gabe: I don’t know about right now particularly but my favorite band of all time is The Gorillaz so I will say them.

Kidzworld: During this lockdown what are you alone or you and your family doing for fun or just to keep busy?  Kids and teens could use suggestions.

  • Gabe: I’ve been spending as much time as I can with my family trying to find new shows to watch together or playing board games or finding new activities we can do. My advice would be to stay active as much as you can. Go and work out or walk if you can. Find any sport you can do in your house or backyard just because it’s really important to stay active, obviously.

Gabe talked a lot with Megan on setGabe talked a lot with Megan on setCourtesy of Lionsgate

Kidzworld: Yeah, don’t turn into a total couch potato. We are in pretty scary times right now. What do you think teens can do to support equality for all?

  • Gabe: Oh, I think educate yourself and try to be active in the fight for equality for everyone. There are a lot of great books you can read. I don’t know the names off the top of my head but there is so much information online that you have access to, so educate yourself and find books about (the struggle for equality) and be aware of your own issues and work on them too.

Kidzworld: Good advice! Which of your projects is coming out next?

  • Gabe: Think Like a Dog comes out June 9th and then Robert the Bruce is already in theaters and will be streaming too. Also Unhinged  (rated R for strong violent content and language) will be the first movie back in theaters July 1st. Gabe plays a kid who, with his mom, is threatened by severe road rage.

Think Like A Dog Movie PosterCourtesy of Lionsgate

See Think Like a Dog out June 9th on Digital, On Demand and also Blu-ray and DVD.

Would You Like to Read Your Pet’s Mind?

If you could read the mind of your pet, you would have a telepathic connection. He/she would “get” you and you would totally “get” your pet. I would love that! Do you sometimes think you actually do understand what your pet wants and needs? Tell us the story with a comment and/or on your Kidzworld profile page.

By: Lynn Barker