HARDSHIP Local photographer and storyteller Kirti Bassendine’s captures the lives of homeless residents in the exhibit ‘Homeless Voices’ running through Jan. 26 at the Gilroy Center for the Arts. Pictured is Tony. Credit: Kirti Bassendine

Though he was cast as a bully in a movie, Rhett Ramirez
certainly doesn
’t fit the role.
Though he was cast as a bully in a movie, Rhett Ramirez certainly doesn’t fit the role. Ramirez has only been in show business for 18 months and already he has appeared in magazines, a commercial and landed a speaking role in a soon-to-be movie staring Winona Ryder and Joseph Fiennes.

The 11-year-old Morgan Hill boy with his fine blond hair and his soft eyes hardly seems like he will hit and threaten you, but that is exactly what he got to do in his part in “The Darwin Awards,” slated to be released later this year. The movie is still in production and a release date has not been set.

“The Darwin Awards” is only described as an action/adventure/comedy where Fiennes, a detective, teams up with Ryder, an insurance claims adjuster, to investigate a death linked to the Darwin Awards, which are given to those “who die in such a stupid way their death is an improvement to the genome.”

Ramirez was awarded the role and on Dec. 5, he and his mother went to a school in Oakland early in the morning to film. Rhett and Day stayed at the shoot well into the afternoon.

The shoot only lasted one day.

Ramirez’s role was a bully who steals money from a bake sale at his school during a flashback in the film.

A young Fiennes quickly determines it was Ramirez’s character “Andy” and approaches him after class.

Of course Andy doesn’t want to be caught and promptly tells Fiennes (in Ramirez’s favorite line) “You tell Ms. Fong and it’s your ass!”

Ramirez rehearsed his lines constantly. But seeing how few he had, it is not hard to imagine why.

“It was cool,” Ramirez said with a big grin on his face. “I got to practice my line a lot and my mom didn’t get mad.”

In order to get the part, Ramirez had to go to at least five auditions including four call backs.

The initial tryouts were in front of casting directors where Ramirez read lines. He was called back and read more lines in front of the movie’s director and other “important people.”

His third call back was supposed to be his last, but Ramirez had one extra where he read lines with the boy who would play the young Fiennes character.

When Ramirez and his mother, Paige Day, arrived in Oakland for the shoot, they thought he was just an extra; however, when they checked in, they found out Ramirez was a principal character, since he had a name in the movie, and were whisked away to a trailer with “Rhett Ramirez” on the door.

Excited, Day and Ramirez called home and told the family about the special accommodations which included catered meals, a TV and a stereo.

The special accommodations were the culmination of Ramiriz’s love for acting he developed at a young age.

In kindergarten, the acting bug bit Ramirez. While at a summer camp, he played a police officer in the musical Annie.

“It was the first time he cried when something was done,” Day said.

At the age of 10, Ramirez hired an agent and went to San Jose for tryouts.

Ramirez had to walk down a stage, smile, then walk back.

He received the most call backs of all those who tried out: eight. He signed with Look-Large agency in San Francisco and landed a few magazine shoots, including Macy’s and LL Bean.

In the fall 2003 LL Bean catalogue, Ramirez was the main feature along with another girl where he modeled children’s clothes.

Shortly after signing, he was cast in a Subaru commercial filmed in the Bay Area but aired in Japan. The scene was of Ramirez and two other boys on their bikes riding up Mount Tamalpais when they see the car and stare in awe.

When Ramirez worked on the movie, Day ran into the mother of one of the other boys on the shoot who had a video of the commercial, featuring an extreme close up of Ramirez’s face.

The movie is produced by 3 Ring Circus Films.

While Ramirez is posing for the camera and practicing lines he normally can’t say, he still attends fifth grade at Oakwood Country School here in Morgan Hill.

In order act or model, Ramirez needs a work permit issued by the school and must be brought to the site.

Day said there are strict employment rules about working with children. All jobs must minimize loss of class time and a teacher is on site to make sure the children are doing their homework.

While some are willing to up root themselves in hopes of their child becoming a star, Day said she is trying to keep this whole experience in perspective for Ramirez.

Day tells her son, if he wants to do an acting or modeling job, then he has to give something else up he likes to do such as peewee football.

In the show business, there is little work in the San Francisco area, Day said. Most acting jobs are either in New York or Los Angeles.

Day said when Ramirez turns 18, he is free to pursue acting, if he wants, and go to school in Los Angeles and try to make it big.

Ramirez said his plan, for now, is to go to the University of California, Los Angeles, when he graduates from high school.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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