Friday, May 15, 2020

Golden opportunity: Three local actors play small roles in ‘Defending Jacob’

By Lorraine Glowczak

It is not every day one can say they get to act alongside Captain America (Chris Evans) or Lady Mary Crawley of Downton Abby (Michelle Dockery), but three Windham siblings get to chalk that up as a childhood experience.

Gracie Rulman, age 12 of Windham along with her brother, Lincoln, age 9, and sister Libby, age 6, were chosen to play guest parts in “Defending Jacob”, an Apple TV+ miniseries based upon the book of the same title, written by Mark Bomback. “Defending Jacob” is a story about a family whose 14-year-old son Jacob (Jaeden Martell) may…or may not be a murderer.

Lincoln Rulman of Windham, 9, center,
has a role on a new AppleTV+ series called 'Defending Jacob.'
“Lincoln was hand selected by the director for his scene with Michelle Dockery [who plays the role of a teacher and Jacob’s mother] and Lincoln acts as one of her students,” said Sarah Rulman, the actors’ mother. “His part in the series was larger, playing in an episode that was crucial to the storyline. As a result, Lincoln got paid more as he was a feature extra and had to register with SAG Aftra.”

SAG Aftra is The Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a labor union that represents film, television, and radio personalities.

Gracie and Libby play as background extras and can be spotted in various scenes throughout the series. Gracie plays a middle school student alongside Jaden Martell’s role. “She didn’t get to meet Jaden Martell, but she got to walk behind him in one of her scenes,” Sarah said.

As for Libby, this is her first experience on a professional set, all of which was filmed in Massachusetts, and her mother stated that she loves being a young actress.

“She especially loved wardrobe, hair and makeup,” Sarah said.

Many people in the greater Windham area may recognize Libby as the local philanthropist who collects toys for young children with cancer and other medical challenges who are staying at the Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital in Portland. When asked in a previous interview what she likes most about being an actor, she said with enthusiasm, “Being famous!” What Libby does not seem to know is she is already a local celebrity.

This is not the first time the siblings have acted as extras. Lincoln and Gracie played minor roles in the film, “Little Women” staring Emma Watson and Laura Dern. Their acting debut all began when Sarah answered a simple ad in the Portland Press Herald last spring. The ad was from a casting agency asking for young actors to apply as extras for the film. She applied and within a few weeks, Lincoln was the first to get the call back, with Gracie receiving a call shortly thereafter.

Their acting experiences have taught them important life lessons.

“They have learned a lot about patience,” Sarah said. “Libby’s bus scenes, for instance, took over three hours to film and it was freezing. There is a lot of repetition and acting requires listening and paying attention. They need to know and be aware of “cut,” “rolling,” etc. There is a lot for them to remember.”
But even if there are a few difficult things to learn as actors in the film industry, that has not hindered the Rulman siblings’ enthusiasm for the job.

“They all want to continue acting,” Sarah said. “They find it a fun and great experience – and they really love earning their own money. They all said that just knowing they are in a TV show is really cool.”

Lincoln will be acting again soon as he has had many casting calls and requests recently from Hasbro for Toy commercials.

“We have been doing video auditions because of the recent health epidemic and Lincoln has a few commercials lined up after the restrictions are lifted.”

If you haven’t seen “Defending Jacob” yet, sources indicate that it is one of the top three series on Apple TV. But if the crime genre is not your style, one can still stream or rent the most recent film version of “Little Women.”

Either way, you will get to see – and support - local young celebrities in action.

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