Harrison Gilbertson

“I love film because it’s like going to an art gallery,” says actor Harrison Gilbertson. “I like the idea of people sitting back and looking at a screen like it’s a painting.” While most 17-year-olds with Hollywood agents have their sights set on the next Twilight franchise, the Adelaide, Australia–born Gilbertson seems bent on more of an art-house career. “I’ve always had a strict view on what I wanted to audition for,” says Gilbertson, who cites River Phoenix and Leonardo DiCaprio as influences. “I’ve never wanted to audition for television commercials or soap operas or anything like that. It’s not really who I am. People have always called me an old soul since I was really young.” Later this year, Gilbertson stars in Milk (2008) screenwriter Dustin Lance Black’s upcoming directorial effort What’s Wrong With Virginia? as the caretaking son of an emotionally disturbed Jennifer Connelly. “I’m like the father who is there to look after her,” says Gilbertson, who learned to speak with a southern accent for the role by watching videos of people complaining on YouTube. The son of an opera singer and a workforce planner, Gilbertson began acting at the age of 6. Two years ago he appeared in the Geena Davis indie drama Accidents Happen, which was released this year. After the Accidents Tribeca Film Festival premiere, Gilbertson met his American agent and was cast in Virginia by Black after auditioning on tape. “Lance has got a really good soul,” says Gilbertson from Los Angeles, where he’s been busy meeting producers—with his parents in tow. “Hopefully this trip will work out,” he says. “You just have to hope it keeps going. If not, I have some fun memories.”