Teen chases a Hollywood dream

Taking a trip down the red carpet is something most children only dream of. But for Maywood Middle School eighth-grader Chase Vanek, it was a reality.

“It was so awesome,” Chase, of Newcastle, said of his walk down the red carpet at the Los Angeles premier of “Halloween II” at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre Aug. 28.

Chase Vanek (left) and fellow cast member Scout Taylor-Compton stand in makeup after finishing their last day of shooting ‘Halloween II.’ By Laurel Vanek

Chase Vanek (left) and fellow cast member Scout Taylor-Compton stand in makeup after finishing their last day of shooting ‘Halloween II.’ By Laurel Vanek

But just because he’s rubbing elbows with fellow cast members, like Malcolm McDowell, Sheri Moon Zombie and director Rob Zombie, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to do his homework or mow the lawn.

“I’m still a kid,” Chase said. “I try not to let it all go, but it’s cool when people recognize me.”

Chase’s second life has him starring in two major films. “Halloween II,” written and directed by Rob Zombie, hit theaters Aug. 28 and is still playing. “Dear Lemon Lima,” an independent film by Suzi Yoonessi, is playing at select area theaters.

Chase started acting when he was 9 after being spotted by a scout at a pumpkin patch, he said.

“She said we were cute kids, and how would we like trying a shot at being actors. I said ‘Ask my mommy,’” he said laughing.

After getting a card from John Robert Powers, it was off to Seattle for acting lessons and then a trip to the iPOP! convention, designed to find talented child stars, in Los Angeles.

At the event, Chase caught the eye of several talent scouts, taking home more than a dozen of the coveted iPOP! Awards and creating quite a buzz in Hollywood.

“Chase had 18 offers and his sister had several others,” Laurel Vanek said. “At that point, I kinda freaked out and we went home to Seattle.”

Chase’s sister is Torrin Vanek, a Liberty High School student.

Laurel Vanek said she reined the buzz in by waiting for a few months before letting her children try their hands in the business.

It wasn’t long before Chase’s big break came.

“I read for it and then I got it,” he said. “I’m a big fan of Rob.”

He’d landed the role of the young Michael Myers in the remake of the second “Halloween” horror film March 4 and it was off to Covington, Ga., for six weeks of filming starting March 10.

Chase was slightly apprehensive about starring in a movie with so much blood and gore, he said.

So, he was given a special tour of the film’s special effects studio, where he learned how blood and guts are made to look real.

“That was cool,” he said. “I got to see how the blood packs work and how they hook them up to a tank in a certain way, so when they get cut on the neck or a limb gets taken off, the pressure in the tank makes it spurt, like real blood.”

He also found there was a lot of standing and waiting, while lighting crews set up, marks were set and lines were memorized.

But there was plenty of time for fun.

“Rob and he had a game where they would try to scare each other,” Laurel Vanek said.

“Working with Rob Zombie and all the cast, that made it really, really fun,” Chase said. “I thought it’d be boring, since I was the only kid.”

He added the only boring part was that he had to keep up with homework, which he pulled off the Internet and studied with the set teacher for several hours a day.

“I was ready to come home, because I was ready to be back with my friends and get back in school,” he said.

The first thing he bought with his own money was an Xbox. But if he had it his way, he’d probably already have purchased a lot of other toys, he said. Part of Chase’s paycheck goes directly into a savings account he can’t touch until he’s an adult.

When he isn’t acting or hanging out with friends, Chase said he likes to play baseball and will be on an international ski racing team this year. He also wants to attend college.

“If my career goes down the toilet, there’s no chance left without it,” he said. “This way, I have something to fall back on.”

But he keeps acting close by, he said.

“I want to be famous,” he said. “Will Smith is my idol. I’ve seen every single movie he’s been in. I like the way he says every line amazingly, and it’s phenomenal how many movies and awards he’s been in.

“You never know what will happen,” he added.

“This really prepares him for life,” his father Jaime Vanek said. “It prepares him for a career and hard work.

“But I still wish he’d be better at his chores.”


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