In the movie Space Warriors (rated PG), Jimmy Hawkins has always dreamed of traveling to outer space. When an opportunity arises to compete and win a seat on the next space shuttle, Jimmy desperately wants to apply. Knowing his parents would not approve, he secretly applies to attend a special space camp at the Space & Rocket Center. The summer camp is designed to pull teens with scientific specialties from across the globe to create an elite team, The Warriors. This team will battle for the chance to win a seat on the next shuttle into space.
We got to speak to one of the actors in the movie, Thomas Kasp about the movie, and his experience filming at Space Camp.
Tell me about Space Warriors.
Thomas: Space Warriors is about a group of kids at Space Camp who are competing in all the astronaut challenges and studying to become astronauts. When a real-life space emergency occurs, they all have to work together to help the adults solve this national space emergency, and it’s great. I play a character named Hunter who’s on the team that won last year. He’s a little bit of a bad kid and he’ll do anything to win. And the new team, the Warriors are headed by Thomas Horn, and they’re competing this year to beat my team for the chance to go in space. Shooting the movie, we got to experience all of Space Camp and do all the space challenges and all of the preparations for becoming an astronaut. So it was such a fun experience.
Were you at the real Space Camp in Alabama?
Thomas: Yep. Huntsville, Alabama. We spent four weeks there this summer shooting this movie, and we had the opportunity to stay at the Space Camp, and shoot there every day. That’s why our film just has incredible views throughout because Space Camp features real-life rockets and the whole atmosphere. And we actually got to use all of their apparatus and everything. We did the centrifuge; we did the underwater astronaut trainer; we did all kinds of things, and Space Camp worked with us. Not only did we shoot a movie there, but the cast graduated Space Camp as well, which was really cool. They gave us diplomas and so we’re honorary graduates of Space Camp.
What was your favorite part of training?
Thomas: Oh my gosh, definitely the underwater astronaut training. You put on full scuba gear and you take an hour-long lesson and they teach you all kinds of things. They’ve got this enormous giant scuba tank that goes down 25 or 30 feet I think. We went down and there’s little portholes on the side so people can see you, and at the bottom they have space ships and space equipment, and you get to just hang out in the bottom. At 30 feet you experience the same kind of weightlessness that you would in a zero gravity situation. So that was very cool because you get to just chill at the bottom for up to an hour until our oxygen ran out, and just mess around and experience that feeling. They had bowling balls at the bottom and at that depth the bowling balls were practically weightless. You could throw them around. It was really kind of a surreal, unnatural experience. It was so cool.
What do you hope kids will learn by watching this movie?
Thomas: In our society, it’s really cool to be an athlete or a rock star and things like that, but we really want to show kids, “Hey, it’s just as admirable, maybe even more, to be an astronaut, a scientist, to go into math and science and to make your contribution that way.” We wanted to show kids that it’s cool to choose that as a career path, and we wanted to idolize it so kids with that talent realize that it’s an important field to stay in and that we should honor them just as much as we do sports stars.
In real life, would you like to go into space?
Thomas: Absolutely. I mean, just getting the chance to kind of taste the zero gravity experience and going through Space Camp has definitely made my mind go further and think about what it would be like to be in space on any mission. Because the movie focuses on the International Space Station, I’d definitely visit the International Space Station. Then I would love to visit the moon. I would love to go and hang out on the moon and see what that’s all about.
Do you have any pets?
Thomas: I’ve got three dogs and a cat. I have the most cuddly dog ever named Emma, and she’s such a cute little Yorkie mix and she follows me around constantly, always, always just bothering me, like a little sibling. At night, she’ll want to hop into my bed and lie next to my head on my pillow. It’s the cutest thing ever. I’ll wake up in the morning, and she’s wrapped up around me. It’s so cute. I love it.
What is your favorite sport?
Thomas: In high school, and in college, I swam competitively. I trained every day. That was my sport. I even got to swim against Olympians. But lately, I’ve picked up basketball, and one of my favorite things to do is go down to the park with some of my friends and play pick-up basketball. I love doing that. Every chance I get, I just love playing basketball now.
What was your favorite subject in school?
Thomas: English. I was definitely really big on creative writing when I was younger. My favorite school thing to do was to write the stories and write the English assignments. I loved being really creative. It’s because I read so much that I had this imagination for writing and English, and so I really liked doing that when I was younger. I still do. I’ve thought about it and I really enjoy the writing part, and I’ve actually considered writing a screenplay. It just seems like such a monumental task that you never know where to begin. But maybe someday soon I’ll take that first step.
Did you like reading when you were younger?
Thomas: I was a crazy reader as a young kid. It was my number one hobby and I read about a book a week. I loved reading so much. My favorite thing to read though was the Hardy Boys series. I read all of those books as a kid. I was really into detectives and adventure books as well. That was what I spent my time doing as a kid.
What is your all-time favorite book?
Thomas: Hmm. I feel like this is one of those questions like, “Who’s your favorite band?” It always changes. Gosh, I feel like after I read a book, it’s my favorite, and then I read another one and that’s my favorite!
Is there a literary character you would like to play in a movie?
Thomas: [Laughter] I think the most that I’ve thought about that would be one of the Hardy Boys, if they made an adaptation. That would be really cool.
When did you know that you really wanted to act?
Thomas: I was 11 years old and just going to a regular school and a lot of my friends decided to try acting after school. I was competitive and noticed that all of them were trying out acting, and I loved doing all the plays and the musicals that we performed at my school, and I signed up with some of my friends. And before I knew it, they dropped out and I just . . .I loved it. I couldn’t stop. It was the first place I wanted to be every day, and then it became more and more serious. Eventually, I came out to L.A. for a talent showcase to local industry people. At that point, I considered that it could be something more than a fun way to spend my time. I just fell in love with it, and I started putting in hard work, and I started to see this as a career and what I want to spend my life doing.
How did your friends react to you getting into acting?
Thomas: [Laughter] They were excited for me and mostly, “Oh look, Thomas is trying to do better than us.” You know, they all dropped out of the acting thing rather quickly and moved on. And when they saw that I took it seriously, they kind of said, “Oh shoot. Maybe we shouldn’t have dropped out.” But they were funny about it.
Do you have a personal motto or a favorite quote?
Thomas: Something that really helped me out was, “Nothing comes easily without persistence.” You gotta work towards it for it to pay off, and never give up. Especially being an actor where you face a lot of rejection, the most encouraging things you can be told is, “Hang in there. If you believe you’ve got something to show, you just gotta wait for the right person to see it.”
Interview by Marie Morreale