Jake T. Austin on New Year's Eve and Filming Huck Finn in Bulgaria

J. Everette Perry

Jake T Austin might be wrapping the fourth and final season of the wildly popular Disney show Wizards of Waverly Place, but the 16-year-old won't be vanishing or transporting (or whatever they call it on the magic-themed show) anytime soon. This December (a few days short of his 17th birthday), you can catch him on the big screen in Garry Marshall's latest, New Year's Eve, where he shares scenes with Sarah Jessica Parker and is the love interest of Academy Award nominee Abigail Breslin, with whom he shares his first-ever on-screen kisses. Austin, who has also had big-screen roles in The Perfect Game and Disney's RIO, just returned from Bulgaria where the Yankees fan traded his baseball cap for a straw hat to play Huckleberry Fin in 2013's Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn. (Super 8's Joel Courtney also stars.) The transition from wizard to leading-man is enough to keep us under Jake's spell and, here, Austin chats with us about leaving the Disney Chanel, New Year's Eve and feeling a little starstruck around Robert De Niro,

You've spent years on Wizards of Waverly Place --  what are you going to miss the most?
The cast and crew. Those people became like an extended family to me.

Any Selena Gomez pranks on set?
Sometimes Selena and I mess up our lines and, like family, we'll always give each other a hard time when that happens. One time on set we played one of Selena's songs right after she finished a scene just to embarrass her.

What are your three favorite possessions?
My cell phone, my fitted Yankees cap and my basketball ball.

What is something nobody knows about you?
I once boxed with Manny Pacquiao (who was Boxer of the Decade)!

Did you have to do anything special to get into the role of Fernando in RIO?
I really studied the Brazilian accent and tried to sound as Portuguese as possible.

What was the highlight of being part of the film?
Getting to meet Jamie Foxx and will.i.am was really cool. They're two people who have established amazing careers for themselves. I really look up to them.

What was the last thing you downloaded?
The new Big Sean album and am Xbox Live account.

What can you tell us about the character you play in New Years Eve?
His name is Seth and he has an adventure over the course of the night with Abigail Breslin's character. Sarah Jessica Parker plays Abigail's mom so she's a part of our storyline as well.

There are a lot of big actors in New Years Eve. Did you get star-struck on set?
Not really, but Robert De Niro and Jon Bon Jovi are both people I was really excited to meet. I'm also a huge fan of Garry Marshall --  he's someone who's created a lot of his own content which is something I aspire to do.

So far how has the filming of Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn been so far?
We've been filming in Bulgaria, so learning a new culture and getting to experience Eastern Europe while traveling to different parts of the country was really amazing.

What do you most have in common with Huck?
Huck and I both are adventurers and we both like to be outside, we're always looking for something new to experience.

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