STIR OF ECHOES
Although Stir of Echoes features several stirring performances, perhaps its most noteworthy will be Zachary David Cope's feature debut, because it could well end up launching a long and impressive film acting career
Although Stir of Echoes features several
stirring performances, perhaps its most noteworthy will be Zachary
David Cope's feature debut, because it could well end up launching
a long and impressive film acting career. Cope is a 7-year-old
Arizona native who makes his feature film debut in Stir of
Echoes, playing Jake Witzky, the supernaturally tuned-in son
of Tom and Maggie Witzky.
The youngster - a "veteran" of six commercial acting
roles by the time he won the role of Joke last year - adds
an eerie sensibility to the film as a completely open-minded child
whose eyes and mind see and hear the supernatural rhythms cascading
all around while the rest of us continue blindly on our way. A
refreshing presence who gently advises aspiring child actors to
"never be mean to anybody if you want to succeed," Cope
was hired partly because he slightly resembles Kevin Bacon, and
partly because everyone who met him fell in love with him and
his obvious acting ability.
"I was impressed by how professional he was, while still
maintaining that childlike innocence," says director David
Koepp about the youngster. "For one thing, he never got scared
during the entire production. Obviously, we took great care to
explain things to Zachary and to avoid placing him in violent
sequences. But he gave us a great open-mindedness that I think
really comes across on the screen. Unlike an adult actor, you
don't need to explain every little nuance to a child. With Zachary,
we just told him we were pretending, but to try and think there
really was a ghost there and she was his friend. Unlike an adult,
he just accepts it and that is what we wanted from his character-total,
unquestioning belief in what he sees and hears, minus any fear
In fact, the biggest problem filmmakers encountered with Cope
was the fact that he would often begin laughing in scenes in which
his character encounters the ghost.
"We have a scene where his character is watching a frightening
movie - Night of the Living Dead - on TV
and the ghost won't let him turn the TV off," says Koepp.
"We and his parents spent a lot of time explaining to him
that that movie wasn't real, and we told him it was just gross,
made-up stuff. Well, we ended up having a hard time getting a
take in which he wasn't laughing. He understood this was make-believe,
he liked everyone he was working with, and he had a good time
making this movie."
Indeed, Zachary spent much of the shoot - when more intense,
adult scenes were being filmed - going on field trips around
the Chicago area with his tutor and parents. When he was on set,
the youngster never got frightened by the film's intense subject
matter for what he says is a blatantly obvious reason - "it
was all make-believe."
"I knew it was all pretend," he says. "When I was
5, I was scared by Ghostbusters because I thought they
were real ghosts. But I'm older now and I know they don't exist,
so I wasn't scared. I thought it was cool seeing them dress up
and film the ghost, but I never got scared or anything."
Cope did make a lifelong friend, however, in Kevin Bacon. For
one thing, the actor found himself spending much of his time between
takes playing rock-paper-scissors with young Zachary.
"Zachary was great to work with,"
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