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Indie child star who loves playing oddballs

LOS ANGELES — He isn’t quite a household name yet but, at the age of 19, child star-turned-teen heartthrob Asa Butterfield has built up a resume a Hollywood veteran would envy.

The British actor worked with Martin Scorsese and Tim Burton, starring alongside some of cinema’s biggest names, including Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Kingsley, Emily Blunt and Anthony Hopkins.

“I’ve never really gotten starstruck,” he said ahead of the release of his latest project, sci-fi fantasy The Space Between Us, co-starring Gary Oldman.

“I’ve been very lucky to work with the people I have, but as an actor you need to be on a level playing field. Every actor I’ve worked with has been great at making me feel comfortable on set.”

Butterfield began acting at age eight, after a casting director saw him at his after-school drama club in north London.

The movie that made Hollywood sit up and pay attention, 2008 Holocaust drama “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas,” earned Butterfield a British Independent Film Award nomination.

“Hugo,” Martin Scorsese’s 2011 love letter to the film industry, proved to be his big break, with his own lead performance earning him a Critics’ Choice Award nomination for best young actor.

He has since transformed himself into a poster boy for young adult drama through such films as 2013’s “Ender’s Game,” where he played alongside Harrison Ford.

This year has seen him cast as the reluctant young hero of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a performance which moved director Tim Burton to praise Butterfield’s special kind of sensitivity.

“When people asked me which director do you want to work with, I’d say Tim Burton. It’s lovely having him welcome you somewhat into his imagination and ideas, which always blow you away,” he says.

“I’m always trying to find roles which are original in one way or another, and stories which are original,” he says.

“I never really play the kid who’s got the perfect life. Usually he’s missing a parent or two.”

Like the young actors in the “Harry Potter” films, Butterfield has done his growing up in front of the camera but this indie child star has never been a recognisable celebrity.

His more high-profile recent roles are beginning to change that as he enters adulthood, but he has his feet on the ground, and says he is more likely to be photographed cycling in London than cruising Beverly Hills in a Porsche.

This month Butterfield began filming World War I drama “Journey’s End,”and there have been persistent rumours of superhero movies, although it’s not a genre that particularly interests him. — AFP

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