Little Boy (Thomas Bair) and Anna (Sarah Bolger). Photo: Luca Del Puppo.

Little Boy (Thomas Bair) and Anna (Sarah Bolger). Photo: Luca Del Puppo.

Child actor Joshua Rush is no stranger to the big screen — after all, he’s been in front of one since the tender age of 10 months. A native of Houston, Texas, he is now 13 and has been gaining indie street cred in (not surprisingly) the likeliest of places — film festivals.

Dubbed as the “Film Festival Kid,” Rush has splashed onto the pages of the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival scene with the world premiere of the 80-minute narrative film Emelie, a thriller directed by Michael Thelin that tells the story of a babysitter named Anna (Sarah Bolger), who comes in as a replacement to watch over three children. At first, Anna is viewed as a dream catch, but as her behavior progressively becomes more disturbing, the children discover that Anna (whose real name is Emelie) isn’t who she appears to be.

As it turns out, it’s up to the eldest son, Jacob, portrayed by Rush, to save his younger siblings from Anna’s reign of terror, which includes a sex tape and playing with a loaded gun. Even those without children can relate to the visceral horror of a scenario not entirely rooted in fiction.

As aptly described in a review by the Hollywood Reporter, the film is “genuinely unsettling” and done with remarkable execution by the cast and crew: “Director Thelin infuses the film’s brief running time with a real tension, aided by Bolger’s unsettling turn in the title role and the believably naturalistic performances by the child actors.”

In addition to promoting Emelie, Rush has also been keeping busy with voice acting on Netflix’s new original series, The Adventures of Puss in Boots, where season one is currently available for streaming. He was also the voice behind Carl in the smash 2014 animated feature, Mr. Peabody and Sherman. With several film and television credits to his name, it looks as if the young star isn’t planning to slow down anytime soon.

GALO recently had the pleasure of checking in with Rush at the start of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, before Emelie’s premiere, where he teased information about his role and spoke about his varied interests and his dream character portrayal. Rush was endearing, as he was amusing, showing that despite his passion for acting, he’s still very much your everyday kid — navigating life through homework, teachers and his favorite social media accounts.

GALO: You and the film that you star in, Emelie, are hitting the Tribeca Film Festival trail this week. Is this your first time attending Tribeca in New York?

Joshua Rush: This is my first time attending Tribeca, but it’s not my first time in New York. I love New York.

GALO: Oh? How many times have you visited?

JR: This is my second time consciously…and I went when I was four.

GALO: [Laughs] What’s been your favorite part about visiting the city?

JR: Well, when I went last time, I got to do a lot of sightseeing. I got to go to the United Nations and that was so exciting.

GALO: That’s awesome! So what are you most excited about for the Tribeca Film Festival?

JR: I think the thing I’m most excited about is finally getting to see my movie. I mean, I’ve read the script and I’ve seen parts of it, but I haven’t ever gotten to see it yet, so I’m really excited to see it.

GALO: How did you manage to wait so long before seeing it in full?

JR: You just got to work hard. It’s hard, it’s so hard. You watch whatever they’ve given you and you just try to stay strong.

GALO: [Laughs] Oh gosh. You’ve been to South by Southwest, the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Beverly Hills Film Festival. You’re really making a name for yourself, being known as the “Film Festival Kid.” How do you feel about that nickname?

JR: Wait, I am?

GALO: Yeah!

JR: Have people been calling me this behind my back?

GALO: Yes, you’re the film festival kid! [Laughs]

JR: Really? Oh, well, I guess it’s not bad. It’s certainly not a bad [name] to have. If you’re at a lot of film festivals, it means you’re in a lot of films.

GALO: And do you still view yourself more as a kid or an adult?

JR: My parents always say to me, “When you’re on set, you’ve got to act like a kid, but also be an adult.” I guess, if that makes sense…I have to act in my acting like a kid, but when the camera’s not rolling, I have to be an adult and I’ve got to take direction. So I’m somewhere in-between.

GALO: That’s understandable. So Emelie’s a pretty scary story. It’s about a babysitter named Anna who turns out to not really be who she’s supposed to be, and the children she’s watching over in the film have no choice but to figure out a way to deal with her. Could you tell more about your role in the film as Jacob?

JR: Jacob is an unlikely protagonist. He realizes Anna’s — that’s what we originally call her — ulterior motives and he ends up having to save his younger siblings from her. But I don’t want to give the movie away. You’ve got to see the movie.

GALO: Well, what makes you say that he’s an unlikely protagonist? What about him is unlikely?

JR: He’s kind of growing into adolescence. He wants all this independence that comes with being a teenager, [an] adult, but he also still wants to be held by his mommy every night. [Laughs] He ends up having to really step up to the plate.

GALO: If you were in Jacob’s shoes in real life, how do you think that you, personally, would handle having a nightmare babysitter like Anna?

JR: I would run into my room, lock the door, suck my thumb and cry. [Laughs] But not literally, and not necessarily in that order either. But yeah, probably not as well as my character, I’ll admit.

GALO: I think I’d probably do the same, too. [Laughs] In addition to Emelie, you’re also in the new Netflix series, DreamWorks’ The Adventures of Puss in Boots, where you play Toby, who is an orphan and pig who really looks up to Puss. What drew you to this project?

JR: I’ve always loved voice acting. It’s a lot of fun. It’s my most recent venture, I guess, because I started it when I was around 10-ish. You get to go in and you get to really turn into this character. You can really be, in a way, a lot of things.

GALO: That’s really cool. Puss in Boots, in particular, has a clear Spanish, cultural influence in the story. You also speak fluent Spanish.

JR: Sí!

GALO: Are there any other languages that you’re interested in learning?

JR: Right now I’m learning Hebrew in preparation for my bar mitzvah, which, date unknown right now. [Laughs]

GALO: That’s exciting. How’s learning Hebrew been?

JR: I’m more of a procrastinator, so [I haven’t learned] too much yet, really…shalom

GALO: [Laughs] Try not to cram too much in at the last minute! Anyway, were you a fan of the Shrek franchise before you got involved in Puss in Boots?

JR: Yes. I love the Shrek movies.

GALO: And who’s your favorite character from the franchise?

JR: I guess, I’m kind of biased, I have to say Puss. How could I not say Puss? He’s swashbuckling, exciting and fun. He’s like, really cool.

GALO: Yeah, he is! So according to your Instagram account, you’re not only an actor; you’re a gadget geek and a future lawyer. What kind of gadgets do you like? I’m curious.

JR: Oh my. I’m a huge Apple geek. I just preordered my Apple watch and I’m freaking out. Like freaking out…I’m just a huge, huge, huge Apple guy. I just cracked my iPhone screen, I’m so sad. I cracked it at Disneyland too.

GALO: Oh wow, how did that happen?

JR: I had a lot of sunscreen on my hands, lifted the phone out of my pocket, it slid out and I watched it in slow-motion as exciting, dramatic classical music played in my head — and it smashed on the cobblestone ground. It shattered bad…I just got to get it fixed. I just got to pony up.

GALO: And since you also said you want to be a lawyer, I’m assuming that means you have plans for law school? What about law in particular interests you?

JR: You know, at the moment, I’m hovering over between whether I want to be a lawyer or if I want to be an oncologist. But my family’s always told me that I should be a lawyer because I’m really good at arguing and getting what I want. I’m very good at spinning arguments from being toward me, toward the person who’s giving the argument. I even took a debate class once. I won the debate.

GALO: [Laughs] What about being an oncologist fascinates you? Why are you deciding between that or law?

JR: I got interested in oncology because, in my opinion, I have this super, super mean teacher, who I won’t say who it is — you know who you are. I have this super mean teacher and she told us to write a paper on a cancer. And we, [my class], were all like, “what, like what kind of cancer?” We were all like, “whoa, whoa, whoa, way, way too vague.” I decided to get back at her. I decided to find the rarest cancer that I could and write a really long paper on it. I found retinoblastoma, a pretty rare cancer that affects kids, from newborn [age] to five years old, rarely anyone older than that, and I decided I would write a 10-page paper. And I did.

GALO: Was your teacher impressed with your paper?

JR: I got an A.

GALO: Nice!

JR: No extra credit, but I got an A.

GALO: It sounds like you actually attend school. You’re not home-schooled?

JR: I do. I’m really lucky because I’m one of the few child actors that actually get to do that, to attend school. That’s a really lucky thing that I get to do. It’s a lot of fun because I call it character research; there are so many characters at my school.

GALO: [Laughs] And how do you handle attending school and your work life? For example, you’re away from school and at Tribeca currently.

JR: I plead with my teachers to give me some homework so I don’t fall behind in my classes. I plead with them and just work really hard, as hard as I can — and I do a little bit of school online now as well. I do two classes online.

GALO: How did you come to that arrangement with your parents?

JR: Actually, after the movie Emelie, we decided that I should only go to school part-time and then do part of it online. When [I] originally started acting, I still really wanted to lead a normal-ish, as well as I could, life. I think my parents have been able to do that really well for me. I owe it to my parents really.

GALO: That’s great that they’re so supportive of you.

JR: I love them. [They’re] the best.

GALO: So — super important question: do you like Instagram or Twitter more? You’re pretty active on both social media accounts.

JR: Oh man. How do you choose? I mean, I have more followers on Twitter, but on Instagram, I have more active followers. And a lot of my friends are on Instagram, too, it’s like…aw, man! That’s such a difficult choice! You can’t make me choose between my babies.

GALO: [Laughs] But let’s say, if you had to pick one over the other to use for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?

JR: I guess, I mean, there’s no upside to this. There is no upside either way. I can’t do this. Don’t make me do this. You cannot make me do this.

GALO: [Laughs] Okay, I won’t make you do this. Do you Snapchat or Yik Yak, too, by any chance?

JR: I Snapchat, but I do not Yik Yak.

GALO: Okay. I’ve heard of Yik Yak, apparently it’s the new thing; a lot of younger people have been really getting into it.

JR: Yeah, I snap with my friends every once in a while. Maybe someday I’ll have a public Snapchat — someday.

GALO: You’ve been acting since you were pretty much 10 months old. You’re 13 now — what’s next for you career-wise? Are you currently working on any new projects?

JR: Yes, I am! I have a super-duper secret Disney project that will be coming out in the fall of this year or January of next year. But it’s so secret that I can’t tell you anything more.

GALO: Okay, I understand.

JR: But you should look out for a very exciting, new Disney project, coming soon.

GALO: I will, definitely — anything else besides the Disney project?

JR: Right now, I’m focusing on The Adventures of Puss in Boots, which is on Netflix. And I’m really focusing on Emelie right now, too…if it gets picked up by a distributor here at Tribeca, then hopefully, [it will play in] theaters everywhere.

GALO: What would be your dream movie or project that you’d want to voice act in or physically act in?

JR: I’d probably want to do something related to technology, something where I get to work with a lot of technology — I dressed as an Apple genius for Halloween once. I’d love to do a movie or documentary. Documentaries are something that…I’ve never really done anything like it. I’d like to do something for the History channel. Yeah, I’d love to do something for the History channel where I get to act out all of these historic things…stuff like that.

GALO: And are there any actors or actresses that you’re dying to work with?

JR: Like right now? Megan Fox.

GALO: [Laughs] Megan Fox? Why her?

JR: Wait; let me think about that question. Well, you know, I don’t really care who I work with. I just love the action of getting to work. It’s my craft and I love to do it. It’s my passion. So really, truly, I don’t care. It can be anyone.

GALO: Those are all the questions I have for you, unless there’s anything else you want to add?

JR: Oh, wait, wait, wait, I got it! I got it! For the movie that I’d love to be in, I would love to do a James Bond movie. [I would] love, like love, to be James Bond.

GALO: That would be so fun. That’s something you should definitely start shooting for.

JR: Yeah, I need to start bodybuilding to do that. [I’d be] a bodybuilder at 13 years old!

GALO: Have you seen Skyfall, the most recent James Bond movie?

JR: Yeah, yes! Of course, I have! It’s so good! And I’m so excited for the new one coming out in November.

GALO: Me too! [Laughs] I’m a huge James Bond fan. I’d love to see you in a James Bond movie someday as well.

JR: That would be so exciting. I’d also have to work on my British accent.

GALO: I’m sure you’ll get it down. [Laughs] Okay, I’m going to let you go for now, have a great time at Tribeca, it should be really fun.

JR: I think it will be. I’m really excited!

“Emelie” premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 16. The drama-thriller will be screening on Friday, April 24 and Sunday, April 26. Rush tickets are currently still available.