But because of the buzz surrounding his performance, he was asked to audition for Tim Burton‘s upcoming film “Dark Shadows” and won the coveted part of young Barnabas Collins, the same character Johnny Depp will play as an adult vampire.
During the “Prom” junket, the press cornered McDonell with questions about how will he channel Barnabas slash Johnny Depp. “Going to work on it when I see him,” he replied. “I don’t know, exactly. I don’t want to reveal my process. We’re going to do a lot of rehearsals. But we’ve got awhile before we do that.”
In the meantime, McDonell is keenly anticipating how audiences will receive him as Jesse Richter, the fiercely independent student who lives by his own rules, in “Prom.” Jesse’s hardened exterior and “bad-boy” persona give him a definite anti-establishment vibe. Working to help his mother support the family eats up his free time, so making friends and participating in high school activities, especially Prom, are way down on his list. Jesse is a teen trapped in an adult life—what or who will it take to bust him out?
“It’s way different from anything I’ve ever done before,” McDonell says, regarding what drew him to “Prom.” “I’d never worked as the lead in a big studio movie, and that was the appeal, too – to do something new for me. Also, I thought the story could potentially be really cool. There’s so much about it that was interesting to me.”
“Prom” director Joe Nussbaum reveals, “Thomas sent in a tape from New York that was good enough that it got him noticed and we brought him to Los Angeles to read.”
Producer Justin Springer adds, “Thomas was Jesse Richter without trying and that’s exactly what we were looking for. We weren’t looking for someone who could ‘play’ cool, ‘play’ bad boy. We wanted somebody who just had that natural energy. He had it!”
Thomas McDonell is an American artist, actor and musician based in New York City. His artwork has been exhibited internationally, and he has also curated several exhibitions, focusing primarily on the work of his emerging peers.
While studying abroad in Shanghai as an art student through NYU, McDonell went to an open audition for “The Forbidden Kingdom” (starring Jackie Chan) and won a small supporting role and more recently landed a guest-star spot on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” “Prom” is his first lead role.
In addition, McDonell is the lead singer in a four-piece rock-and-roll band called Moon that released their first CD in June 2010.
Opening soon across the Philippines, “Prom” is distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International through Columbia Pictures.