Young actor Sterling Beaumon, 13, of Canyon Country, scores plum role on popular television show
Portraying the young version of an evil genius is all in a day's work for 13-year-old Sterling Beaumon. The Canyon Country resident has been acting, singing, dancing, and skating his way into stardom since scoring a Hollywood agent at 3 with a rousing rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner."
"I love being in front of people and getting noticed," Beaumon said.
Beaumon will get plenty of notice when his five-episode arc as the teen Ben Linus of the hit television series "Lost" airs March 18. Beaumon originally appeared as the young Linus in 2007. Depending how the show's notorious flashbacks play out, Linus is - or is not - directly responsible for ruining the lives of several characters cohabitating a mysterious island after a plane crash.
The fact that Linus isn't exactly popular among the castaways doesn't faze Beaumon. "Ben wasn't strange as a kid, he's nothing like what he turned out to be. I know what happened on the island, but I can't tell you," Beaumon said with a smile. He shares the same eerily blue eyes as his older counterpart, portrayed by Michael Emerson.
Playing Linus is a departure from Beaumon's happy-go-lucky geek character on Disney Channel's "Mostly Ghostly," though the youngster has shown a wide range of acting skills as a guest star on shows ranging from "ER" and "Heroes" to "Crossing Jordan" and "7th Heaven."
He's also an accomplished dancer and stage actor, performing as a guest artist in the National Ballet of Korea's "Nutcracker" at the L.A. Shrine Auditorium, and appearing in a Geffen Playhouse production of "All My Sons," with Neil Patrick Harris and Laurie Metcalf.
"Being on stage is so different than being on television. You never know what's going to happen, that's the scary part," Beaumon said. "But I like what I do and the attention that I get. Otherwise, why do it?"
According to Beaumon's mother, Claire, her son comes from a long line of performers - a musician father, opera singing grandmother and a grandfather who was a bit-part actor in the 20s. So it didn't come as a surprise when at age 3, Beaumon turned to her at a hockey game and said he wanted to sing "the flag song" to the players and the crowd someday.
Instead he sang it for an agent, and was immediately cast in a series of print ads. Meanwhile, the youngster started dancing.
"Ballet, tap, jazz, he wanted to do everything," Claire Beaumon said. He was also comfortable on the ice, and at age 5 skated opposite Olympic gold medal winner Scott Hamilton during a hometown show in San Diego.
After a photographer told Beaumon that her son was too animated for print and should be cast in TV commercials, the duo moved from San Diego to Burbank to be closer to the entertainment industry. A Disney Cruise Line commercial soon followed, instilling in Beaumon a love of travel.
"Going places when we work is cool. I've been to the Bahamas, Germany, New York, Hawaii and Vancouver," he said. "When we break at ‘Lost,' which films in Oahu, we walk off the set and right onto the beach."
Prior to "Lost," Beaumon's big break came with the role of Max Doyle in "Mostly Ghostly." "A geek who becomes cool," Beaumon said describing his role in the work based around the popular book series by R.L. Stine. The Universal feature premiered on the Disney Channel in October 2008 to high ratings after its theatrical release and became a best-selling children's DVD.
"We're hopefully doing more, though it's not for sure," Beaumon said. "It's been fun and doing the Disney thing brings a whole bunch of kid fans."
Off the set
While he often lives out of a suitcase, there are a few constants in Beaumon's life. He is now home-schooled, studying online and with a tutor, since his acting schedule makes public school impossible to attend.
Since moving to Canyon Country in June, Beaumon has joined a hockey league at Valencia's Ice Station, practicing or playing in games three times a week. At home, Beaumon hangs out with a core group of friends whose idea of a good time includes video games and Nerf Dart Tag.
Beaumon's crew can also be found creating avant-garde home movies. Using a hand-held video camera, they sneak up on unsuspecting friends and family members for improvisational shorts that will never end up on YouTube.
"Not everyone in our movies really wants to be there and it might bring up some negative attention," Beaumon said. Instead, Beaumon makes DVDs for the parties involved.
A University of Southern California fan, Beaumon plans to attend the Los Angeles campus and study film to eventually become a director or cinematographer. The idea was cemented by experiences Beaumon had acting in films produced by USC students over the last few years.
"The students showed him what they know. They were so good about letting him handle the equipment, teaching him about lighting and setting up the shot," said Claire Beaumon.
Beaumon took that knowledge to the set of "Mostly Ghostly," where he was allowed to film a take. "I like working with cameras, they can do so many things. It's so much fun," Beaumon said. "I'd like to direct whenever I can."
He also likes to play surf, skateboard, play guitar and sing. Beaumon recently attended a Jonas Brothers concert, sitting front row center during the show. He's met them more than once. "They're really nice guys," he said.
Beaumon and his mother weren't always so fond of "Lost." The show kept pre-empting "In Case of Emergency," a pilot Beaumon filmed that both thought would be his big break.
"We were like, what is this ‘Lost' show?," Beaumon recalled. "We started watching it and became big fans."
Fans of Beaumon started approaching him after his initial appearance as Linus two years ago, such as a surf shop employee who spotted him while shopping.
"The guy was like, ‘Aren't you on TV? Hey, you're young Ben!' He gave me free posters," Beaumon said. "It's fun, though sometimes I'm shy and don't always want to be recognized."
It's Beaumon's voice that will be in the spotlight as a character on the Japanese Anime series "Gunswords," and as one of the stars of the upcoming "Astro Boy," starring Nicholas Cage, based on a Japanese franchise hit about a scientist who creates a robot in the image of his lost son. Sterling will also lend his voiceover talent to "Sludge/Sam" opposite Freddie Highmore, a Imagi Imagination Studios' big screen production due for theatrical release later this year. The hectic schedule is fine with Beaumon.
"I don't know what else to do. If someone told me I couldn't act or perform, I don't know what else I would do."