Teenage star faces a dilemma

Now shooting his first co-lead role in an Australian feature after starring in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, Gulliver McGrath is facing a dilemma.

As he finishes his VCE exams juggled with his shooting schedule, the 17-year-old is tossing up whether to embark on a university course next year or to focus on his acting career.

“Acting is my dream but it is a fickle business so I do want something to fall back on,” McGrath tells IF from the Adelaide set of writer-director Nicholas Verso’s The Boys in the Trees.

“I may go to university, perhaps to do a psychology degree, if my career doesn’t kick off.”

In Verso’s debut feature McGrath and Toby Wallace (Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of INXS, Parer’s War) are playing teenagers, Jonah and Corey, who embark on a surreal journey on Halloween night in 1997.

Mitzi Ruhlman (Hiding, The Code, Home and Away) plays Romany, whom the director wryly describes as “not quite the love interest,” and the cast includes Justin Holborow, Tom Russell, Henry Meaney, Jayden Lugg, Patrick Gilbert and Terry Crawford.

The producer is Mushroom Pictures’ John Molloy with Hedone Productions’ Kate Croser and Sandy Cameron as co-producers

McGrath says, “I had never played a character like Jonah and this is the first time I have worked with actors who are close to my own age. This has taught me so much about how to be an adult actor. I had never done anything so mature.”

The actor describes his experiences working with Scorsese, Spielberg and Burton as ”surreal, a huge blur at the time.”

While the three directors are very different personalities, he found all are patient filmmakers who “look after their actors, know what they wanted and got what they wanted.”

His career is in good hands, represented in Australia by Emma Raciti Management, in the US by ICM and in the UK by Artists Rights Group.

Asked what he’d like to be doing in five years, he said, “I hope I get good grades at university. I want to be on the set of a big film as the main character, working my ass off doing a performance that people will remember.”