At the end of last year, Austin Kane played Cal in the Disney+ series The Santa Clauses alongside his on-screen family – Tim Allen (who reprises his role of Scott Calvin/Santa Claus from The Santa Clause films), Elizabeth Mitchell and Elizabeth Allen-Dick. Austin attended the Series 1 premiere at Disney Studios, and the cast were guests at D23 Expo, and with Series 2 already being announced, Austin returned to filming recently for the new episodes. Further screen work for Austin includes an episode of Henry Danger for Nickleodeon, playing Reese Maynard in Disney’s Bizaardvark, voicing Volt in Dragons Rescue Riders: Heroes of the Sky and Beef Wellington in Spirit Riding Free: Riding Academy, and he is part of the podcast series The Burned Photo as the villain character Robby Harding. Catching up with Austin, he spoke to us about playing Cal in the Disney+ series The Santa Clauses, working with his on-screen family – Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell and Elizabeth Allen-Dick and his time as Reese Maynard in Disney’s Bizaardvark.
In the Disney+ series The Santa Clauses, you play the regular role of Cal, can you tell us about the show and your character?
The Santa Clauses on Disney+ is a continuation of the movies we all grew up on. Now, Scott Calvin is losing his magic and wants to spend more time with his family. This show centres around the family and his search for a successor. I play Cal, the son of Santa Claus; he is a very fun kid that has spent his entire life at the North Pole. He lives through VR video games at home because he wishes he could go to the real world. He is a total momma’s boy and an occasional emotional goof but a great big brother with a good heart.
What is Cal like to play and what is it like working with the rest of the cast, which includes Tim Allen as your on-screen father?
It is a lot of fun to play Cal, I got to work with Tim Allen, someone who I’ve been watching forever, and the Elizabeths (plural) too! The cast and crew were all amazing and I was able to learn so much about the business and how to be a better actor. I learned to ask more questions from Tim and the motivation to always analyse why my character is saying what they’re saying. (Also, wearing pyjamas and super comfortable winter coats 24/7 is pretty great too.)
Was there anything that drew you to the series and what is it like being part of The Santa Clause franchise?
I have loved the Santa Clause movies all my life. I just felt blessed to get the audition and the callback. It all felt surreal, especially since when I got the call from Jack Burditt and Jason Weiner – I was in the middle of doing laundry in my dorm at school. To be a part of this franchise was very daunting at first… a little scary. I can’t lie. Being a huge fan of the films I wanted to do as good a job as possible.
What is it like on set of the show and do you have any favourite highlights from your time filming Series 1?
The set life of the show was great. As I mentioned earlier, everyone, crew and cast, were super kind and the sets were amazing. I got to eat Werther’s with my TV mom Elizabeth Mitchell and even “entertained” the set with the plastic trombone from my character’s room. I have so many highlights I could pick from Season 1 but one thing stands out: a stunt where I was harnessed 20 feet above the ground, flying down and crashing into the fake snow multiple times for when I fell out of the sleigh. Another moment I haven’t talked about which didn’t make it into the show was when we were filming the third episode, me and Elizabeth Allen run into our new real-world front yard and play in the (real) snow. Our amazing director for that episode, Charles Randolph Wright, told me just one thing not to do during our play sequence. “Don’t fall”. I was confident and told him no problem, so on the first take, I ran to the mark in my slippers, tried to make a hard stop, and in doing so, slipped kicking both of my legs straight up like a cartoon character landing straight on my butt. Embarrassing, but the hilarious moment that Elizabeth Allen and I still talk about. By the way, Elizabeth Allen was great in her role.
How has it been seeing the fan response to The Santa Clauses and having the show be renewed for a second series?
The fan response has been great and I can’t appreciate the love enough. The huge fan response was surprising but the most pleasant surprise was to see how international the films and now the show have become. Talking to people from England, Malaysia, and Brazil was awesome, and to see their shared love for these films and now our show was great and very heartwarming.
How did you find the experience attending the premiere event and being a guest at the D23 Expo?
The premiere and D23 were experiences I will never forget. D23 was my first time doing press and answering questions face to face, it was a lot to take in but being there with the other cast members, and my guest – my mom – made it so much fun. I got to see actors from other shows I have admired and watched all my life. Even having a very small interaction with Sam Worthington made it all feel so surreal. The premiere as well was just a beautiful time. I got to bring my parents, my agents, and family friends to Disney Studios and it was my first time on a red carpet (or in this case white carpet). Seeing my castmates again for the last time before the show came out was amazing and meeting so many fans of the show and films face to face made it feel like I was dreaming.
Can you tell us about voicing Volt in Dragons Rescue Riders: Heroes of the Sky and Beef Wellington in Spirit Riding Free: Riding Academy, and what do you enjoy most about recording for animations?
Recording for animation shows is the best. These jobs were very fun work environments that allowed me to play around with these cool characters, one being a chubby goofy cowboy with a horse named Meatball, and the other being a bully dragon. Voiceover jobs are the best because where else can you play these crazy characters? And I feel I can show off more range in the recording booth.
How was it being involved with the podcast series The Burned Photo and voicing the role of Robby Harding?
The Burned Photo was a very interesting and one-of-a-kind job. It was such a cool villain to play in a really interesting story, but how I recorded it was really interesting as well. It was the only job I did during the height of the pandemic and I voiced it in my sister’s closet with audio equipment that the studio sent to me. The job was such a fun experience and working with the QCode team was great as well.
What was it like filming your episode of Nickelodeon’s Henry Danger as Cody?
Filming Henry Danger was a lot of fun, that episode was crazy being in a Halloween special, and being covered in the strawberry jam was definitely a first. But it was especially fun to see Jace Norman again because when we were very young, I was 10 and he was 13, we worked together doing a skit for the Jay Leno Tonight Show. Really fun to reunite for that small bit.
What do you remember most from playing Reese Maynard in episodes of Series 2 of Bizaardvark?
Bizaardvark was a very memorable time. Olivia Rodrigo and Madison Hu were so welcoming and Olivia would invite me to hang out for lunch and to play basketball during rehearsal days. I get recognised for playing Olivia’s boyfriend in Bizaardvark the most out of any projects prior to The Santa Clauses and I remember it fondly.
Throughout your career so far, you have worked on a number of other projects including Godless, Lethal Weapon, Criminal Minds and Sam & Cat, can you tell us about some of them?
Godless, the Netflix Western set in the 1800s, was a super memorable project, I got to live in New Mexico for a month riding horses and shooting guns. It was my first real big project like that and it was truly unforgettable. Criminal Minds was also such a great experience working with director Thomas Gibson. My dad had previously played a SWAT officer on the show with Mr. Gibson, and they had no idea I was his son until my dad walked onto the set with me. It also was the first time I worked with an injury. I badly twisted my ankle in football practice two days before the shoot, but my character gets beat up in the show so I was able to work the pain into the character.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
My love for acting came from childhood. My parents are both actors and it is what I grew up on; I did an episode of Two and A Half Men when I was in kindergarten. Going with my parents to their auditions and going to the acting class for kids that they taught has made me love it from day one. When it’s good in this business, it’s the greatest job around.
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from your career?
My favourite films vary all over the place. I grew up on Jim Carrey comedies and I would say the main film that got me into movie-going and films in general was James Cameron’s Avatar. Lately, my favourite films have been Amadeus, Good Will Hunting, and After Life by Hirokazu Koreeda. I love television too, obviously, and my favourite shows are Breaking Bad, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Peaky Blinders. When I am not acting, I love hiking, listening to rock and roll (I’m also learning guitar), and watching all sorts of TV and movies.
What are you hoping 2023 brings for you?
I can’t really think of anything specific that I hope this year can bring me – good work and good grades in school, safety for my friends and family, and I hope and know this upcoming Season 2 will be fantastic and I can’t wait to get it started.
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