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The Heart and Soul: Joe, played by Joel Courtney, is the central character, a good-natured 14-year-old who wants to help his friend finish his zombie film, and is at odds with his recently widowed father (Friday Night Light’s Kyle Chandler), who is also a local lawman. “He’s a really sweet kid, but he’s a follower,” Abrams said. He’s also nursing a crush on …
The Tough Girl: Elle Fanning co-stars as Alice, who steals her father’s car to drive the boys to the remote, abandoned train station to shoot a scene for their little movie. “Alice is very important to Joe. She’s the one girl he has admired from afar, but has never spoken to,” Abrams said. “Not only is she going to be in the movie, but she’s going to drive them. They’re 14 years old so the idea of driving anywhere is insane.” In fact, she resents Joe coming along, because she’s afraid he’ll tell his father she was driving underage.
The Auteur: If Joe is a follower, Charles is the kid with the marching orders. Played by Riley Griffiths, he’s a pushy, barrel-chested kid with big dreams and even bigger expectations for how his friends can help them come true. “All that Charles cares about is his movie and that his movie has a better story and better production values,” Abrams said.
The Firebug: Carey (Ryan Lee) likes to set things ablaze and is the go-to guy for special effects and fireworks. When the massive train crash almost kills all of them, he’s the only one who thinks it was cool.
The Leading Man and the Extra Man: Martin (Gabriel Basso) is not the brightest of the bunch, but that’s probably not the first time that could be said about a film’s main character. He is mainly a jaw-dropper, stunned by what is happening around them. He’s joined in this duty by Preston, played by Zach Mills, who is the amateur film’s primary background actor — they’re just to make the scene look busy. He fulfills that role in Super 8 as well.