On his way to board the plane with his family to Hawaii, 14-year-old Reese Hartwig was looking forward to vacation with his mom, dad and older brother Ryan. That was until he got a call from his agent.
“Do not get on that plane,” his agent demanded.
Reese, now 16, spent the first half of his life growing up in Arizona. He has spent the most recent half in Southern California. He and his family moved to the golden state because his father, who had worked for the air force and United Airlines, felt he needed a change. He found that change in owning and coordinating picture cars. That’s Hollywood speak for making sure all of those real life cars you see in movies getting blown up and racing down the street are readily available.
It was through his dad’s job that Reese and his brother Ryan were captivated by the film business during a trip to the set of one of the “Fast and Furious” movies. He and Ryan got to meet Vin Diesel and the late Paul Walker. “We both thought we could try this, that would be fun.”
And with the ambition of having some fun, the boys tried their best at making it in the business.
“Our first audition was on Ryan’s birthday, we both had an audition and they were both in the same building but they were different (productions),” Reese recalled. Their agent encouraged them to perform for each audition, regardless of not being signed-up for both.
“We both did each audition. Ryan ended up booking the audition I was called for and I booked the audition he was called for,” Reese said with a laugh. “We were thinking ‘acting is so easy, we’re gonna make it’ and obviously it got a lot harder after that.”
But not so hard that Reese and his brother didn’t find more projects that wanted them. He worked hard and since that first audition, Reese has been on shows like “NCIS” and “BrainSurge” and in movies such as “Crazy Eyes” and “The Muppets.”
Each role was minor, but when he received that phone call from his agent prior to his Hawaiian departure, minor roles went out the window.
“It was the day of call-backs,” Reese told me. And he had received that coveted call. He not only got the part, but he was cast as a lead character in a major summer film. “Whatever, Hawaii will still be there!” Reese said, dismissing vacation for the chance of a lifetime.
Fast-forward through two years of production and Reese is now listed by users on IMDB as one of the top young stars to watch out for in 2014 for his lovable role as the character Munch in the family sci-fi summer hit “Earth to Echo.”
The premise of the film is that after receiving a bizarre series of encrypted messages, a group of kids embark on an adventure with an alien who needs their help. The movie showcases a found-footage style of shooting where everything is from the point of view of Reese’s character and his two buddies Alex (Teo Halm) and Tuck (Astro Bradley). Along the way they are joined by love interest Emma (the beautiful Ella Wahlestedt).
“Earth to Echo” has catapulted Reese and the rest of his on-screen friends to stardom. From “Good Morning America” to red carpets and press events in dozens of states. The fandom for these teen stars continue to grow everyday. “When I saw ‘Earth to Echo’ I fell in love with (Reese’s) character and I had to find out who played him!” 14-year-old fan Alexa told me on Twitter. She also claims to be one of the first fan accounts created in honor of Reese. “He connects with his fans and he’s super nice and lovable. I look up to him,” she gushed.
With all of this new attention and success, one might worry this car-obsessed, 16-year-old with his blonde hair and new Porsche (courtesy of “Earth to Echo” earnings) might see an inflated ego.
“Don’t worry,” he tells me. “My dad and mom keep me (in check).”
His humble attitude and work with the charity Cancer for College make him one of today’s shining young celebrities. And he got there all because he wanted to have some fun and put in the hard work to make it happen. Not a bad way to live life.
Catch Reese in “Earth to Echo” now or alongside Steve Carrell and Jennifer Garner this fall in Disney’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.”
Hear more from the enthusiastic Reese Hartwig in my radio interview with him at TheWadeWire.com.
Wade Heath is the Founder of DoGoodBeGreat.com.