You might know Jake T. Austin as Max Russo, Selena Gomez's hilarious younger brother on Disney's "Wizards of Waverly Place." But now that the show's series finale has aired, the Disney fan favorite is making a major bid for movie stardom. I chatted with Jake about the show's Emmy nomination, his most memorable date (spoiler: Kid Cudi made an appearance!) and his upcoming movie role playing Huckleberry Finn.
Congratulations on your Emmy nomination! What was your reaction like when you found out?
Thank you, I appreciate it. It's an honor. We're up against a lot of people that are our contemporaries, like the casts of "Good Luck Charlie," "Victorious," "iCarly." It's just really cool to be recognized.
"Wizards of Waverly Place" ended this year. What was the last day on set like?
The last day was a little emotional. Of course, we were going to miss it, but we were also looking forward to working on other things and growing older.
One of the coolest parts of the show is the magic. If you could perform any spell from the show in real life, what would it be?
Levitating. How cool would it be to be able to fly?
You just graduated from high school this past spring. What were you like in high school?
I've never been innocent, but I don't think I'm a bad kid! I didn't get voted prom king. I was kind of the dancer, the performer, but I was always very athletic, too.
In "Wizards of Waverly Place", Max goes on a couple of dates. What's the most memorable date you've ever been on?
I was 13. There was a girl, a dancer named Jenna, who played Clara in "The Nutcracker." I took her to the new Lucky Strike [a bowling alley] that had just opened downtown and we just had a good time. Kid Cudi was there and we chilled with him a little bit. It ended up turning into a lounge late at night and they didn't kick us out.
That's a really big night for a 13-year-old!
The stars aligned for me. I didn't even plan it, but we winded up there and it was pretty sweet. That's right when I started the show, too.
Let's talk about your next project. You're starring in a remake of "Huckleberry Finn." How does it differ from the original story?
It's a retelling of Mark Twain's story, but it pretty much stays true to the book. The director wanted to make his own vision. Tom is played by Joel Courtney from "Super 8."
Do you relate Huck's adventurous spirit at all?
Oh, of course! I think everyone can relate to that. Filming was a wild experience. For three or four weeks, we were jumping around everywhere in shuttle vans and going to sets. It was a lot of fun.
Huckleberry Finn is such an iconic book. Is there a book that's had a real impact on you?
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams is a great play. I had to read it for school when I was younger, but I started writing scripts after that. That's what got me into writing. And you know those Books for Dummies? I've literally read all of them -- Economics for Dummies, Finance for Dummies. We have a library in the house full of them.
What's next on your agenda?
I just started working on "Rio 2," and I have another movie that starts production in August. So, things are going well.
Which actors do you admire?
Someone like Ryan Gosling, Shia LaBeouf, Justin Timberlake. Those are all guys were in my position [starting with Disney] and made the right choices. I actually met Justin Timberlake at his restaurant Southern Hospitality in New York. Just seeing him in "The Social Network" and knowing he's doing so much music, too, that's kind of what I want to be -- a little bit of everything. He's got the ideal career.
Do you see yourself getting into music as well?
If I book a film like "Footloose" or "Grease" where you have to sing or dance, sure, definitely, I'd do it. But I don't think I'd put out an album or anything like that.
Do you sing in the shower?
I think everyone sings in the shower.