Rising Star: ‘Super 8’ Breakout Joel Courtney

“Super 8” star Joel Courtney is only 15 and is starring in his very first film, but AccessHollywood.com’s newest Rising Star can already say he’s worked with two of Hollywood’s biggest filmmakers in one of summer’s most highly anticipated projects.

The young actor, who grew up in Idaho, told Access that he was blown away after he first laid eyes on J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg’s “Super 8,” one of the summer’s best kept movie secrets.

“The first time I saw it, I mean I knew it was going to be amazing and incredible because J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, but I didn’t know it was going to be that awesome,” he said.

The Abrams-directed movie, produced by Spielberg, follows a group of junior high kids in the late ‘70s whose plans of making a zombie movie over the summer are turned upside down when a massive train accident begins to cause unexplained phenomenon in their small town.

Even though Joel knew all the movie’s twists and turns, he said watching the film for the first time kept him on the edge of his seat – and a few times launched him right out it!

“I was super excited during the train crash [scene.] I was literally jumping out of my seat,” he explained. “It was really awesome and I was just super excited about it, and I still jumped… I jumped so high!”

On Friday, audiences will finally find out exactly what terror lurks in the freight train car as seen in the movie’s trailer – a detail that Joel’s family and friends still don’t know.

“My friends would sometimes slip it in here and there like, ‘What’s in the freight train and what’s the secret?’ and I’d be like, ‘I’m not telling you!’” he recalled. “I was really good at keeping my secret.”

The young actor explained that he never imagined landing a role in such a high profile project and that he began acting with the hope of making a little spending money.

“I was super happy that I even got the eight [callbacks] because even if you just get the audition, that’s still a really good thing,” he recalled “I went in, had the audition and then they put me in this other room and then I had 11 callbacks over the course of the summer. My goal for that summer was a commercial and $100 and then I got ‘Super 8,’ so I was super excited.”

As far as his co-stars, Joel told Access that working with Elle Fanning, little sister to Dakota, was a thrill.

“She is a lot of fun to work with. She’s really sweet and kind and she’s a lot of fun to hang out with,” he continued. “We hung out quite a bit while onset and offset. So I got to know her really well.”

(Small Spoiler Alert!)

Getting to know Elle also included a heartfelt scene, where his character Joe Lamb, almost kisses Elle’s character, Alice.

“That was a fun scene to film because [I’m showing] her how to be a zombie and then she bites my neck,” he explained. “It was really good because, [in the scene] I’m really nervous because of her, and then she bites my neck, that’s really weird, but it broke the tension between our two characters a little bit and I think that’s what J.J. was going for in that scene.”

Joel told Access that he’s in the process of auditioning for numerous new projects and will be also seen in two upcoming episodes of “The Haunting Hour” on The HUB.

“I’m [going to act] for the long run,” the young star, who considers Tom Hanks his big screen idol, explained.

After his first round of press junkets, interviews, TV appearance and even a trip to the 2011 MTV Movie Awards last weekend, Joel told Access that he doesn’t plan on his newfound fame changing his life.

“I’m still the same person and that’s really how it’s going to stay,” he added.

“Super 8” with Joel, Elle and “Friday Night Light’s” Kyle Chandler opens in theaters on Friday.

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