Jaxin Hall: Almost Peter
Until the age of 17, Jaxin Hall had never ventured beyond the shores of the North Island of New Zealand. When he finally did take flight, however, he did it in style in a business class seat to London, free of charge, on his way to an audition for a lead role in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. “But after 29 hours of flying,” he confesses, “I was over it.”
Hall was one of the final two actors in the running for the role of Peter, the oldest of the four siblings who venture into CS Lewis’ mythical land of Narnia. In the end, the role went to English actor William Moseley, but Hall says the experience of trying out for the part alone would have been enough for him. “It was a whole day of auditioning, on set, in costume, with cameras and everything. It was cool,” he enthuses. “And I made some good friends. I didn’t get the part. I’m not sure why. I think it was something to do with me having darker skin and him [Moseley] being paler. But the guy who got it is really cool.”
Fortunately though, Hall’s audition wasn’t the end of his involvement in the film, after director Andrew Adamson found him a smaller role. “I’m a soldier in the first movie,” he says. “I think I have a close-up but it’s not a speaking role. Andrew basically rang up and said, ‘You did so well that we want to give you a part but there aren’t really any human parts left except for this one.’ But I didn¹t mind. Just to be part of it was cool; just seeing what they did and being part of such an awesome thing. And having my own trailer.”
Hall got on well with Adamson and hopes the director will remember him for a part in another film in the series. “Andrew’s so real; just a Kiwi guy,” he says. “I went to say goodbye to him on my last day and I walked in the room where I was told he was and there were, like, 20 of the top executive guys who funded the movie all sitting around a table to watch what they’d shot that day. I opened the door and all the lights went off and they started playing it and I was like, [stage whisper] “Andrew! Andrew!”, and tripping over people, walking in the dark trying to find him. They stopped the film and turned the lights on. I felt so bad and just kind of said, ‘Oh, thanks Andrew. I’m just going now.’ But he was cool. He was like, “Thanks for coming, thanks for being a part of it.”
Now 18, Hall is softly-spoken, with a self-deprecating sense of humour. “I’ve always liked entertaining people,” he admits. “I was always the kid in class that tried to make people laugh by saying stuff that wasn’t funny and it just didn¹t work at all. So I thought, ‘Maybe if stuff’s already written out for me and I just say it, that might work a bit better.'” He looks a little embarrassed. “It’s hard to talk about wanting people’s attention without sounding like you’re ADD but I just love it. It’s like playing; like when you’re a kid and you pretend you’re someone else, except you’re a grown-up. Because I’m 18 now, I’m a grown-up,” he finishes, wryly.
Hall’s first acting experience came at the age of 15, when he got it into his head (for reasons he’s still unsure of) that he wanted to play Lysander in the Manurewa High School performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “I auditioned for it and got the part,” he says, simply. “After it was finished, my drama teacher, who was the director of the play, said that I might want to think about getting into it a bit more. So I went out on a mad search to find an agent and become a serious actor. I thought I’d made it when I was an extra on Shortland Street. It all happened quite quickly.”
That brief role was his claim to fame for the next 12 months: “I got to call Delphi a dyke. I was the Shortland Street boy at school for a year.” Months later, he ran into David Wikaira-Paul, who plays Tama on the soap. “He asked if I liked being an extra, and I said, ‘No, it sucked.’ So he gave me the name of his agent, Karen Kay, and I called her up and she decided she liked me, so she put me on her books.”
The move gave him the opportunity to audition for a much wider range of parts, including the role in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. “But the first proper acting I did was a non-broadcast commercial for K-Mart,” he recalls. “It didn’t get screened on TV or anything, just at a business conference. But I was stoked, because I got to be the lead character in it. I got driven around in a taxi, so that was star treatment as far as I was concerned.”
Currently, Hall can be seen on New Zealand screens in a commercial for Telecom Xtra Jetstream. “It’s the one where it’s a computer game with soldiers and then it zooms out and it’s me,” he admits. “But they used a little 12-year-old’s voice. It’s terrible! Everyone’s like, ‘That’s you in the ad, right, but who’s the kid doing your voice?’ I had to audition for my own voice, which was a funny thing. And I didn’t get it! My voice obviously wasn’t good enough for me.”
When he’s not auditioning, Hall can be found getting around on four wheels. “I love skateboarding. I got into it because everyone was doing it back in third form. Now only about three of my friends still do it, and it’s only because I drag them out on a Saturday,” he laughs. “I’ve been skateboarding on and off for five years, depending on when I have money to buy skateboards and stuff. That’s another way that acting helps; there’s a little bit of money involved. It isn’t why I like it but it’s a bonus.” One way or another, Hall’s going places fast.
Article in Pavement magazine on Jaxin Hall (used by permission of Pavement (C) 2004)
Thanks to NarniaWebber The White Wolf for sending this in.