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Dominic Scott Kay Interview

Child actor of Pirates of the Caribbean, Minority Report, and Charlotte's Web
discusses latest movie Snow Buddies and his multi-faceted film career


By Amy Braun

With more than two dozen credits to his name, Dominic Scott Kay has a rather impressive résumé, especially when you consider than he is just 11 years old. Kay made his acting debut at the age of four, playing Tom Cruise's son in flashbacks of Minority Report. He's kept remarkably busy since then, especially in voiceover work. To that end, he has lent his young vocals to Wilbur the pig in Walden Media's Charlotte's Web and Buddha the puppy in Disney's Air Buddies. He's tackled many more human roles in live acting,
Eleven-year-old child actor Dominic Scott Kay plays Adam Bilson, the lead character in Disney's recently-premiered comedy-adventure "Snow Buddies."
playing son to Kyra Sedgwick in 2005's Loverboy and to Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom in the arresting finale of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. The pre-teen Kay has even ventured behind the camera to write and direct two short films, Grampa's Cabin and Saving Angelo, on which he worked with Loverboy co-star Kevin Bacon.

Kay's first credit of 2008 is Snow Buddies, which takes him back to the world of talking dogs but this time casts him in the lead live-action role. Kay plays Adam Bilson, an Alaskan boy who makes a dogsled racing team out of his Husky and the title's five young golden retrievers. Released last week, the icy family comedy/adventure has burned up sales charts. In conjunction with the DVD premiere, Kay took time to talk with UltimateDisney.com about Snow Buddies and his flourishing career.

UltimateDisney.com: After voicing Buddha in Air Buddies, how different was playing the live-action role of Adam in Snow Buddies?

Dominic Scott Kay: They were both so much fun. When I played Buddha, I loved recording in the studio, and it was just a blast because I was working with [director] Robert [Vince] and [writer] Anna [McRoberts] for the first time.
And then playing Adam and getting to interact with all the puppies was really fun. I got to experience both, and it was really, really awesome.

How did Disney approach you for the role of Adam, and were there any thoughts given to you for both playing Adam and voicing Buddha?

No, because they were thinking that people could recognize that it's the same person, the same voice, right? So they didn't do that because it could've kind of been weird.

How was it being the lead human actor in Snow Buddies?

It was one of the most fun experiences I've ever had on a movie. It was just so spectacular and magical because the nature and everything that you see in the movie, most of it is all real. It was so amazing getting to experience being up there in the mountains, living in the snow and getting to see all of that. And then working with the amazing people in Canada was such an amazing experience in every way.

What was the most fun part about filming the movie?

I loved the film family. I think the film family was one of the best parts, and having fun with them and getting to kind of live with them every day was really cool.

I read that you own many pets. Do you think that having your own pets helped you here?

Definitely. I'm definitely a very big animal person. When I was 9, I directed a movie about a dog that we rescued, and it was really cool because Kevin Bacon was in it and it was shot on 35 millimeter [film]. That was really an amazing experience being able to direct the movie.

Dominic Scott Kay gets to be indoors and show off his long hair in this scene from "Snow Buddies." Adam smiles with his trusty husky Shasta (voiced by "Suite Life of Zack & Cody" star Dylan Sprouse) by his side.

Being from Los Angeles, was it tough to adjust to the cold weather filming in Canada?

In the beginning, it was a little. [But] they kept me so warm with my costumes in the movie. There was this scene when I was doing the snowball fight with the puppies. I got snow in my snowsuit and everything. But I think I adjusted well to it.

Were you able to meet any of the other voice actors in the movie?

Oh, yes, definitely. Being one of them in Air Buddies, I knew most of them already.

According to IMDb, you're going to be voicing Buddha again in Space Buddies. Can you tell us anything about this upcoming project?

Yes, I just did my first round of recordings for Space Buddies, and it's a really cool movie.
It's just brilliant how Robert and Anna, the director and writer, keep carrying the adventures on and just keep it exciting. It's gonna be really, really cool and spectacular.

You've been in over a dozen movies, and you're only 11! Is it ever hard for you to balance work with school and your social life?

Oh no, 'cause I home school, so I enjoy that. I have home-schooled since day one, before I started acting. It's perfect because my Dad is a musician and when I was really young, I was going on the road with him to concerts and stuff. I enjoy home schooling so much and I love acting. And my social life, I definitely am great with that. I get kind of the best of everything.

You played the son of Will and Elizabeth in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. How was that, working with Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom?

Well, I worked with just Keira, when we shot that in Hawaii. It was really an amazing experience shooting Pirates 3, 'cause I got to go to all the sets and see the ships and everything. We were in Hawaii for a week, so we got to kind of just hang out and enjoy stuff. And then shooting that, we went somewhere up in the mountains in Maui and it was a really cool cliff. And it was all real, actually, even though it was digital, standing there. But it was fun working with Keira. She was really great. The set, the costume... It was a really fun experience.

Were you already a fan of the Pirates films before that?

Oh, yes, definitely. I love the Pirates films. One of our best friends, Dave Venghaus, was the A.D. [assistant director] on all the Pirates. I've known him for almost 8 years. He AD'd both movies I directed and he's been a big part of my life. He's a huge part of Pirates, so I'd already gotten into it that way, too.

Air Buddies was not the first time you voiced a young animal. How would you compare it to other voice acting experiences, namely as Wilbur in Charlotte's Web?

With Air Buddies, it was just fun doing a fun Disney movie like that. I got to play someone different than myself and that's really fun when you're doing voice work. On Charlotte's Web, I think I was kind of like [Wilbur] when I adjusted to who he was. It took 2˝ years to do Charlotte's Web and that was really fun because they actually filmed me so they matched my face to the pig 'cause they did animatronics.

Dominic Scott Kay appears as the spawn of Will and Elizabeth Turner in "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End", but you'll only see it if you stick around past the end credits. Dominic Scott Kay discusses making "Snow Buddies" in the DVD's making-of "Dogumentary."

What are your goals for the future?

I have a band right now named Wisdom. I write most of the songs and I'm the singer and the piano player for it. Definitely, I think one of my biggest goals is I want to tour. And I definitely want to direct more. I directed my first 2 shorts, so I think my next goal is to tour and to direct my first full-length movie.

Your character Adam is involved in dogsled racing and ice hockey. Do you play any sports?

I'm almost a black belt in karate. I'm two belts from a black belt for Tang Su Do. I play soccer, I love to surf, boogie board.
I love sports. When I worked on Snow Buddies, I had never even ice skated, so playing hockey for the first time was definitely difficult but I took some lessons and it was really fun. And I got into hockey and I really enjoyed that. And dogsled racing, I was doing it almost every day for almost 4 months, so that was really, really cool. And that was definitely a sport I got to do constantly.

Who trained more for the dogsled racing: you or the puppies?

They were already pros at it. It was amazing because they're as strong as the huskies. I would have the brakes, because there's a bunch of trainers calling them, so they pull to go to toward the trainers, and that's what pulls me. They're actually pulling me most of the movie in real life. So, one time, I had the brake down, which is a little metal stick that goes straight into the ice, and I hold that down so when they say "action", then I let go of the brake and pull. And at one point they were pulling so hard that they got the sled moving even with the brake on. They were really strong, definitely, and they really didn't have to train.



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How much of your own sled racing did you get to do? Did you have a stunt double?

I did have a stunt double, but I did a lot of the stunts myself, too. I did a lot of the hills that we were doing, and I got to do most of it, 'cause a lot of it was close-ups. So I did do a lot of my own stunts. Like, when I fell over in the movie, I ended up doing my own stunt on that, actually.

Did any surprises occur on set, especially working with the dogs?

Definitely. It was funny because some of the dogs would get off track, but they were so on track most of the time that doing different actually helped it. Like one time, when I'm building the sled, Jake, the puppy who played Budderball in a lot of it, was bringing me a wrench to help build the sled. He handed it down, and I grabbed it, then he sat there and he was barking and he went "Woof, woof" and he kept barking. I'm like, "Thank you, alright." I started talking to him in the scene, 'cause they were still filming it, and he barked again and he kept going, and it was really funny, though. There were definitely a lot of stories.

Is acting something you've always wanted to do?

I definitely love being in front of people. When I was 2, I'd come home from church and I'd stand on the coffee table and I'd do a sermon and stuff like that. I always put on plays. At 3, I was singing at my first benefit for Smokey Robinson. A lot of people said I should get into acting because I was always putting on shows. So, I was only 4 when I started acting and I did my first movie, Minority Report. It was cool. I did this benefit for Make-a-Wish when I was like 8, and I sang in front of 2,800 people at the Civics Arts Center. I definitely love being on stage, and I hope to tour someday.

Snow Buddies DVD cover art
More on Snow Buddies:
Read our full DVD review
Buy the DVD from Amazon.com
Coming soon: an interview with Mitchel Musso, who performs "Lean on Me" in the movie and in a DVD music video

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Article published February 14, 2008.