Dominic Mariche’s latest role sees him star as lead character Gary in Jason Eisener’s new sci-fi horror feature film Kids vs. Aliens, which premiered at Fantastic Fest in September 2022. Last Christmas, Dominic was in the cast of the Nickelodeon/Paramount+ musical remake of Snow Day as Wayne Castle, and in 2021, Dominic had his first regular lead role as Seth Romero in Are You Afraid of the Dark?, which led to him attending the 2022 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards when the show was nominated for Favourite Kids TV Show. Also a voiceover actor, Dominic voices Jax – one of the lead characters in the animated series Team Zenko Go on Netflix. Chatting to Dominic, he talks about starring as Gary in Kids vs. Aliens, playing Seth Romero in Are You Afraid of the Dark? and voicing Jax in Team Zenko Go.
Can you tell us about the new film Kids vs. Aliens and your character Gary, and was there anything that drew you to the project?
First of all, we were very excited to work with Canadian director Jason Eisener!
Gary is a typical young teen, hanging out with friends and making trouble! I loved the audition at first, but what really drew me to the project was talking to Jason during callback. He was so excited about the project and his enthusiasm was contagious! He told me about all the cool ideas he had and all the fun, new experiences I would have, like learning some wrestling moves, fighting aliens, stunts, hanging from beams, being dragged into a lake by an alien…
What was Gary like to play and how was it being directed by Jason Eisener and working with the rest of the cast?
Gary was really fun to play, though it was not hard to do, because so many elements of his personality are like my own – cocky, cheeky sense of humour and personality. Being directed by Jason Eisener was amazing; he’s such a nice guy, incredibly kind and down to earth and very passionate about making movies. He made sure the cast bonded before filming by taking us to an arcade for a day, with pizza party after, so we all had a chance to get to know each other and develop friendships before filming.
How did it feel having Kids vs. Aliens premiere at Fantastic Fest in September and what was it like seeing the completed film for the first time?
It was incredible to go to Texas with my dad for the Fantastic Fest premiere. It was quite overwhelming to see my film on the big screen for the first time – I was really proud of the work we did and how it turned out!
What did you enjoy most about filming as the lead role in a sci-fi horror feature film and what are some of your favourite highlights from your time on set?
I loved how action-packed the movie was. I had to learn a lot of new things, things that were sometimes out of my comfort zone. Working with so many other people my age was a lot of fun, and the sense of camaraderie in making this incredible film was awesome! Being from the west coast of Canada, I loved having the opportunity to see more of my country when filming this on the east coast – I had never been to Nova Scotia before and it was really beautiful. On set highlights include feeling like we were just a group of friends making a film, it didn’t feel like work! My favourite highlight from my time on set was probably the hot tub! After the scene with the alien dragging me into the lake – it was a freezing-cold east coast December night and sure appreciated the hot tub.
Why would you recommend watching Kids vs. Aliens and who do you think it will appeal to?
There is tons of action, a range of emotions and lots of 80s movie references – I think it will appeal to all audiences – the action, drama and gore will appeal to teens and the 80s style will appeal to the parents who are still kids at heart!
In the 2022 musical remake of Snow Day, you played Wayne Castle, what was the film like to work on and how would you describe your character?
Another place I had never been to before was Montreal! It was actually filmed mostly outside, in the snow, not in a studio! One thing that really stood out was seeing the crew moving all of the filming equipment on snowboards and skiis. It was very cold (-20 some days) but we were layered and had Hot Shots in our boots and mittens to help keep us warm. My character, Wayne Castle, was so much fun to play. We got to run around in the snow and threw snowballs at Snowplow Man.
Had you seen the original film before booking your role and what was it like seeing the fan response to the release on Nickelodeon and Paramount+?
Yes, I watched the original with Chevy Chase with my parents. The original film was so funny and I was looking forward to the extra element of the musical in our reboot! I was happy at the fan response, my friends and family around me loved the movie!
You voice one of the lead characters Jax in the animated series Team Zenko Go, how are you finding the experience recording a lead voiceover role and what is Jax like to voice?
Jax is very energetic and always willing to help people even though a little clumsy. It required a lot of energy on my part because he was such an energetic character. We started recording this a couple of months into the pandemic, so the experience was different from what it would be normally. I was always alone in the studio, not with the other characters like you would in non-pandemic days. I look forward to doing another VO gig, where I can work with the other characters in the same room and feed off their energy.
Do you have a favourite aspect of working on Team Zenko Go and how was it seeing the completed Jax character animation?
Team Zenko Go was my first big voiceover job and it was so exciting. I was blown away at seeing the completed character animation – the process of going from voice recording to animation to final product was amazing!
What was it like playing Guillermo in an episode of Billy the Kid and Mason in an episode of The Good Doctor?
Playing Guillermo in Billy the Kid was yet another opportunity to do a couple of things I had never experienced before; riding a horse and being able to speak Spanish on film! I speak a bit of Spanish at home as both of my parents are Spanish speakers, but it was new for me to do it for a job.
Playing Mason in The Good Doctor brought another first time experience for me – because I had to do a scene where I was getting surgery after being shot, I had to have a prosthetic made of my entire upper body, which took three or four days to make it look real. It was really cool to see the final product and know all the work that went behind making the scene look so realistic!
In 2021, you were in the cast of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, do you have any stand-out memories from filming as Seth Romero and being part of the series?
Being on Are You Afraid of the Dark? was the biggest project I had done to date. We filmed for three months, and I looked forward to it every day. My favourite part was working with the other actors. It was the longest I’d ever been on one project so we got to know each other really well! I feel like this was a turning point in my acting career.
Do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role of Seth and how was it having him as your first regular lead role?
I was so excited when I booked the role of Seth, especially that my mom told me all about watching the series when she was growing up in the 80s. As my first series regular job, it was a big step in my acting career, working all day, every day for months. But I had set goals for myself in acting – getting a series regular was on that list of goals and I was very proud to have achieved it!
Are You Afraid of the Dark? was nominated at the 2022 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, what was it like attending the event?
The Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards was an experience like no other! It was epic being on the orange carpet, with all the media and cameras flashing. It was my first time in LA and I was excited to be reunited with the cast of Are You Afraid of the Dark? again a year and a half after we finished the show. It was really nice to see a project I loved doing so much, being recognised and appreciated by the fans to be nominated for a Kids’ Choice Award. It was a truly unforgettable experience to be there and celebrate our hard work!
You’ve worked on the Christmas films The Christmas Yule Blog and A Christmas to Cherish, what do you remember most from filming both projects and how is it working on Christmas releases?
One of the most interesting things about filming these projects is the fact that we filmed in the summer! It was an experience filming Christmas movies, where it was supposed to be winter, we’re bundled up and it looks like it had snowed outside, but it was actually very warm out! I learned a lot about “movie magic” during those projects!
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you get into it?
I love acting because it gives me focus and a feeling of accomplishment once the project is done. Knowing how much work went into it, it’s really satisfying to think of the whole process, from the first audition to the final product. It makes me feel happy to create entertainment for other people to enjoy, and I love the friends and connection I make along the way. There’s always something new to learn from each project!
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from acting?
I love reading, my favourite author is Rick Riordan, On TV, I like to watch Rick and Morty, as I like the dark humour. When I’m not acting, I’m just a regular teen. I go to school and do homework. I like to play guitar and take acting classes. I also love gaming online with friends!
Do you have any upcoming plans that you can tell us about and what are you hoping 2023 brings for you?
I can’t share any upcoming plans yet! But I’m continuing to work on my craft, taking acting classes and fine-tuning my skills because you never know what’s just around the corner! I hope 2023 brings love, health, happiness and success to my family and friends and, of course, more acting for me!
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