By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist June 23, 2011 at 7:37AM
For all the whizz-bang wonder of J.J. Abrams' "Super 8," none of it would have worked as well as it did if he didn't have a great core of young actors to work with. And while Elle Fanning was predictably great, newcomer Joel Courtney matched her note for note and emerged as a major young talent to keep an eye on. And it appears lots of folks are sitting up and taking notice.
Variety reports that the actor has lined up two new movies. First up will be "Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn" based on Mark Twain's classic works. Courtney will take on the part of Tom Sawyer, the mischievous scamp who falls into various adventures in 1850s Missouri. And what better place to shoot the classic tale than...Bulgaria. The film -- that Courtney revealed he was reading for during the press rounds for "Super 8" -- will shoot this August in the nation with little-known producer Jo Kastner making his directorial debut and also penned the screenplay.
Once he finished that up, Courtney will come back to American soil and make "The Healer," which sounds almost exactly like the plot and theme of "Super 8." Written and directed by Giorgio Serafini ("best known" for the Wesley Snipes straight-to-DVD movie "Game Of Death"), the story centers on an "ailing father who takes his two teenage kids into the woods to renew the bond they shared before a divorce. The trio are soon swept into a supernatural adventure in a haunted forest. Courtney will play a rebellious youth who has grown up resenting his father. Just as he begins to warm up to his estranged dad, an apparent tragedy threatens to separate them forever and he's left trapped in limbo between the living world and the afterlife." Missing mother? Troubled relationship with Dad? Supernatural elements? Didn't we just see this?
While we're pleased to see Courtney's star take off, these projects seem...dubious. His parents/agents might want to take a page from Hailee Steinfeld and slow down before signing on to anything that crosses the kid's desk. Have you seen the "Game Of Death" trailer?