By Amelia Wu and Izzy Leake
(All photo credit: Ben Sakamoto, unless otherwise noted)
Sophomore Ben Sakamoto recently appeared as Hawkeye’s (Jeremy Renner) son, Cooper Barton, in Avengers: Endgame. Sakamoto first portrayed Cooper Barton in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), when he was ten years old. Endgame is currently the highest grossing film of all time, reaching over 2.5 billion dollars in the box office, surpassing Avatar and Titanic.
Sakamoto in a scene from Age of Ultron (Courtesy of Marvel Studios)
What was the casting process like?
Well, I was living in England at the time (it was for my dad’s job for a few years), and I was doing drama club, so I was into acting. Then, a casting agent came to our school and talked to my teacher and interviewed some of us about a role in a movie. We had to send in a video saying our name and stuff like that to a casting company. It was an American school and they wanted American kids to be in the movie. I went through an interview, sent in a video, and then they told me I needed to go through auditions because they wanted me for this part. After two or three auditions, I had to go to London. A few weeks later, after the last audition, they selected me for the role.
Sakamoto behind the scenes of Endgame.
Did you know what movie it was for?
I didn’t know what it was, they had this code name they used. So yeah, it was really secretive.
"For Avengers: Age of Ultron, the crew used the codename of 'afterparty'. The crew for Avengers: Endgame also had a codename, but I can't remember the word."
How old were you at the time?
I was in fifth grade [ten years old].
Do you still act?
I don’t, not really anymore. But it’s possible I could be in other movies, I’m really not sure.
Do remember what you felt like when you first got cast?
I think my mom was more excited than me. She got the phone call and was freaking out because I was going to be in this movie. It was pretty insane. I didn’t know what to say. I remember I was really speechless.
Sakamoto peering out of his Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer.
How much of the plot were you allowed to know?
They didn’t tell me anything. Not even for Endgame. They were like, “Here’s the scene.”
When did you guys film Endgame?
Most of it was last year. I missed a couple of days of school.
Were teachers understanding about you missing school?
Yeah, they were okay, but I wasn’t allowed to tell them why I was gone. This contract is really, really strict. So, I was away for a couple of days and they gave me the assignments.
Did you have to keep it a secret?
Yeah! I did, I was under this contract. A lot of people were mad at me when the news came out.
What was it like for people to come up to you and talk about it?
It’s pretty surreal. I think the craziest part of it was that people I don’t know at all would come up to me and say, “Oh, you’re in this movie.” It’s pretty crazy. I think that’s the best part about it all.
Sakamoto moments before shooting a scene in Avengers: Endgame.
What do you do to prepare for a scene (makeup, wardrobe, etc.)?
I had makeup and hair. I had to get there a couple of hours before filming the scene because they had to do hair and makeup for my role. And on top of that, I had to do three hours of school everyday, so that took some time.
"I think the craziest part of it was that people I don’t know at all would come up to me and say, “Oh, you’re in this movie, it’s pretty crazy... that’s the best part about it all."
If you had the chance, which Avenger would you like to play? Why?
Yeah, I actually thought a lot about this one. I think I would be Hawkeye. I would just be my dad, because of loyalty. I’m not the biggest superhero fan, but definitely Hawkeye.
Who have you met on set?
I think the first person I met was Jeremy Renner, the guy who plays Hawkeye in the movie. I remember, when I was filming Age of Ultron, they walked me over to all the actors, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). It was really crazy ‘cause I think the night before I watched the first movie. And then seeing them the next day was insane.
Sakamoto, on set, with his onscreen little brother.
Who were your biggest inspirations on set?
I think, Mark Ruffalo, the guy who played Hulk. I think that all of them are such good actors, and they’re all super nice too. I remember him [Ruffalo] coming up to me and my mom and he said: “Oh, I remember you guys! We talked a lot.” So I thought that was pretty crazy that he remembered me from before.
"I remember, when I was filming Age of Ultron, they [crew] walked me over to all the actors: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)."
Did you get to bring home any props or pictures?
No, I couldn’t get autographs or pictures either, they were really strict about that.
Sakamoto glances up at Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) during a scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron. (Photo Credit: Marvel Studios)
Did you get to go to any premieres or parties?
No I didn’t, but for Age of Ultron they had this cast and crew screening where I could see it the week before it was released. Yeah, there were a couple of cast members there, not any big ones, but I was never invited to any premieres. It kind of sucks, but that’s that.
"A lot of people were mad at me [for keeping a secret] when the news [about Endgame] came out."
Do you have any advice for aspiring actors or actresses?
For me, like I said, anything can happen, you just really have to take the opportunities you can get , and you really never know.
I don’t know. It’s still super crazy that I got to do that great experience, and hopefully I can do it again.
Hawkeye and Cooper Barton by Karina Takayama.
To see Sakamoto in action, check out this clip from Avengers: Age of Ultron
Credits to: Marvel Studios