Student Spotlight – Aidan Cullen – Riley’s Peak

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.Aidan Cullen
Aidan Cullen

Our Acting for Young Adults student, Aidan Cullen, hit the beautiful (and cold) forests of Kentucky to shoot the upcoming family film, Riley’s Peak, which is due out in 2017. He talks to us about his on-location adventure and meeting and working with the legendary actor Jon Voight.


Q) What was the most challenging part of shooting this feature film?

A) The most challenging part of shooting this film was definitely the weather. I was flown out to the beautiful (yet very cold and dangerous) Kentucky forest. There was this one scene in particular when I had to wear a wet suit under my clothes because I had to go into 30-degree water in 50-degree weather… And we ended up having to reshoot that scene 4 times!


Q) What was your most fun part of shooting the film?


A) What I didn’t realize coming into this movie is how close I would get to not only the other cast members, but also how close I was going to become with the crew members.

The second reason this experience was so amazing was because of my costar Jon Voight. Jon and I became best friends throughout the experience and to this day I still talk to him almost weekly. I remember the day after I screen tested for the role in front of Jon, the director, and all the producers, I got a call from Jon. He wanted to go out to lunch and talk to me. So the next day we go out to lunch and Jon taught me how to drive a car. The reason he did that was because in the movie I had to drive a car and he wanted to go into the movie with a bonding experience to bond over prior to filming, but it’s a pretty cool story that an Academy Award winner taught me how to drive a car. Right after Jon left our house I got a call that I got the part and the rest is history!


“The Acting Center took me from someone who dreamed of being a working actor to someone who now is a working actor.”


Q) What was it like to work with the legendary actor Jon Voight?


A) Well Jon is a complete natural. He’s the type of person that can say a line any way he wants and it sounds amazing. Jon absolutely brought the best performance out of me in this film, and if it weren’t for Jon I wouldn’t have executed the final scene of the movie as well as I had. We filmed the final crying scene of the movie on Day 4 (of shooting) which to me was crazy. The whole day I was psyching myself out because I wasn’t sure if I could cry or not. So anyway it gets dark and I get called on set to do my scene. I was so worried I wasn’t going to be able to cry, but right before the scene Jon whispered in my ear “I love ya, kid”. And the movie is really a coming of age story, and the connection Jon and I had off of set and on set (character-wise) completely all made sense to me. The director yelled action and Jon said his opener line and immediately, without even trying to force it, I start sobbing. It was so real to me. Everything was so real. I understood the story at that point. And I couldn’t have asked for a better counterpart/partner to have in that moment that THE Jon Voight.


Q) How did your studies at The Acting Center help you prepare for this role?


A) Without The Acting Center literally none of this would be possible. I started becoming a working actor under The Acting Center’s consulting program. My consultant sent me to a photographer for headshots that put me in touch with Karen Renna & Associates. They became my manager and then shortly after I ended up signing with Abrams Artist Agency who ended up submitting me for this role! The Acting Center took me from someone who dreamed of being a working actor to someone who now is a working actor.


Rileys Peak


Q) How did your Acting Center studies help you once you were on set?


A) Once I was on set, the one thing that stands out to me was the improv I learned at The Acting Center. A lot of times on set either you or your scene partner(s) won’t remember their lines 100% correctly, and you will have to improv. The Acting Center definitely shaped me into somebody who wasn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with Jamie Kennedy who is amazing at improv on set!


Q) Anything else you’d like to share for our readers that might help young actors?


A) If you wake up thinking you won’t book a role, you won’t book a role. You need to always know how amazing you are and never go into any situation thinking you won’t succeed. You need to always believe in yourself and eventually success will come!

We are excited to see more success come to this up and coming actor! You can also catch Aidan on ABC’s Speechless and TNT’s Animal Kingdom.


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