From the interview archive.
Thomas Barbusca might only be 15 years old but he’s already built quite the resume with recurring roles on popular tv series like American Horror Story and Grey’s Anatomy. These days you can catch him starring alongside Kaitlin Olsen in The Mick on Fox where he plays Chip Pemberton. Thomas chatted with VULKAN about what first interested him in acting and what kinds of roles he hopes to tackle as his career progresses.
I understand you’re following your sister Brielle’s footsteps in acting. Did you initially approach her about acting, or did she pull you aside one day and encourage you to give it a try?
Well how I got started was, I was at a commercial callback with her when I was 4, and casting thought I was there for them. They pulled my mom aside and asked me if I wanted to go in. She said “sure,” and it kind of started from there. I had watched Brielle go in the room for auditions for a while at that point, and I had seen her on TV. She told me if I booked it I could be on TV like her, and that sounded cool to me.
Do you two give each other advice or tips that you learn along the way?
I don’t really coach or do acting classes, mostly I read with Brielle. She’s been there for me since the beginning. She’s great because she does this too, and she’s a good actress. It’s always good to have someone who’s a good actor to read with.
What was the first movie or tv program you saw that gave you the desire to act?
Sitting in Brielle’s trailer for The Starter Wife. I remember for months I was totally in awe and wanted to do what she was doing. It looked so fun.
Were you nervous about moving to L.A? How has the adjustment been for you?
We first made the move to L.A when Brielle booked her show. It was different at first, I guess. I was kind of sad that I had to leave my friends at school and my family. My grandmother especially, but my family is so close that it was OK because I had them. I think when you have a family who is really close, it makes it easier to move around for filming.
What’s your favourite thing to do in L.A when you’re not filming or auditioning?
I like playing basketball, video games and hanging with my friends.
You play series regular Chip in the Fox TV show The Mick. What’s your favourite part about stepping on set every day?
Driving into the studio lot every morning is a great feeling. I play on a show that airs once a week, I get to have all these amazing story lines and work with great talented people every day that I consider my family. I know I’m lucky, and I am so appreciative of what I have.
How did you feel when you first entered the set versus now? How long did it take for you to become comfortable with the cast and crew?
I’m not a shy guy, I talk to everyone. I think at first I may have been feeling everyone out just to see who I could really joke with and who I couldn’t, but it’s always been so comfortable and easy from the beginning. I love my cast and the crew. I work with incredible people who I also like outside of work.
The show has been renewed for a second season which is fantastic, how did that feel?
The initial response to the show was awesome, and getting the official word that we were getting a season 2 was great. I feel lucky getting to do this for another season.
Who’s the funniest cast member on set? Who’s the most serious?
We’re all happy people on my set, so I don’t know if there’s anyone who is really “serious.” I have to say Scott is the funniest. He likes to add in stuff, so it’s sometimes hard to keep a straight face with him and he knows how hard I try to keep the straight face, but he just keeps going for it.
Kaitlin is a perfectionist at times when it comes to getting the right shot. She is also hands down the funniest and coolest.
Sofia and I joke around all day, I probably annoy her as a little brother should. Carla is super chill and we laugh a lot.
What other actors do you look up to and who would you most like to work with in the future?
I worked with Seth Rogan as he directed me in Preacher and Paul Rudd on Wet Hot American Summer. He was so funny in between takes, I would love to work with both of them again.
Do you have a favourite genre that you hope to explore more as your career progresses?
I’d like to do a horror film. When I did American Horror Story, it was great, because it was different than anything I had ever done. I’d like to do something like that again, only more intense. Maybe an action film too.
Do you think you’ll continue acting for a long time, or do you have other aspirations?
I think I’m in the acting game for the long haul. I would eventually like to write, direct, and produce. I’m looking forward to eventually directing an episode of The Mick, that’s a dream!
Do people approach you when you’re out for pictures and autographs? Have you become comfortable with being in the public like that or is it still a little weird?
Yes they do! Normally there’s a lot of staring at first, just to make sure it’s me. At first it was weird, but now it’s very cool and flattering. When my Peter Pan Geico commercial first aired, people would stop me when I was walking down the street or at the grocery store; mostly adults back then. Now, with Middle School and The Mick, I have a younger crowd that recognizes me. [The] only time it’s not fun is when you’re trying to eat a burrito at Chipotle, but I’m fine with it.
Without choosing one of your own, what movie or series would you recommend to other people your age these days?
I’d recommend Lethal Weapon on FOX. My friend Dante Brown works on it.