have the energy and enthusiasm to go through it, who also had some acting experience.”
Tennessee-native Luke Benward was chosen to star as Billy, the new kid in the 5th grade overwhelmed by every aspect of his new life.
“My mom and I tape all my auditions in our kitchen and send them in. With this movie, we were running late and were rushing to get the tape to FedEx. We had thirty minutes until their last deadline of the night, and the place was a thirty-minute drive from our house. And the tape had to be in LA the next day in order for me to be considered,” explains Benward.
“We were racing to FedEx and everything was trying hard to stop us,” laughs Benward. “There was traffic, there was a train changing cars, we got lost. We finally got there 20 minutes late and they wouldn't let us in. The lady who worked there felt sorry for my mom, who was just about in tears. So she gave my mom all of the packaging through the door and mom laid it all out on the sidewalk. My mom was like, ‘Thank you so much.’ The FedEx lady said, ‘Don't worry, we will get it there.’ It got there the next morning and they ended up flying us to Los Angeles for a meeting with the director.”
Benward and his mom returned home to Franklin, Tennessee and after additional rounds of taped auditions, they waited and waited for news.
“I was at a friend’s house for a sleepover and my parents came over to surprise me. I came downstairs and saw my mom and dad sitting on the couch, and I was afraid they were going to make me come home and sleep in my own bed. My dad gave me a Texas Longhorns hat. I didn’t know what it was at first. He explained it's the team from Austin, Texas…and that's where I’d be shooting my next movie! Oh, yeah! It was a really awesome moment,” remembers Benward.
The Benwards didn’t forget those who helped Luke get the part. The next day, they arrived at the courier’s office with a bouquet of flowers from their garden for one very surprised FedEx employee.