Jackson Rathbone: From Vampires to Boomerangs – “The Last Airbender”

By Rebecca Pauley

AirbenderImagine what you could be capable of if you could move an ocean with just your hands. Or make a wall of fire with just your mind.

In “The Last Airbender,” the Fire Nation is at war with the other nations, Earth, Water, and Air. For more than a century, there has been no hope.

However, 100 years later, Katara, a waterbender, portrayed by Nicole Peltz, and her brother Sokka, played by Jackson Rathbone, find Aang, a lost boy who has ran away from home. They soon embark on a huge adventure, and realize that Aang is the Avatar, and could stop the war and save the world.

I had the chance to interview Jackson Rathbone, the young man who portrayed the sensitive and protective brother of Katara.

Jackson has lived around the world, from Texas to Singapore. But the icy and vast spaces of Greenland must have been a little different for him. I was curious to see how shooting in such a remote and icy location differed from other places he has been in.

He explained, “One of the cool things about being able to travel as an actor is it lets you travel to these places that you wouldn’t necessarily go otherwise. I don’t think I ever planned a trip to Greenland and nor would I have.

It was amazing. In the morning you would get up, get coffee, get into the entire wardrobe – the hair and everything – and take a helicopter ride 45 minutes into the middle of the icebergs.”

He added, “It really forms your surroundings you know? Makes everything more real for you and its nice then when we travel back to Philly to film on the stages and the warehouses you know that cold, you know that feeling. Your like, okay, I’ve been there; I’ve actually experienced what this is supposed to be like. It was really a wonderful experience.”

Jackson is also an accomplished musician (more on that later) and he had the opportunity to perform while in Greenland. Per Jackson, “I actually played my first international set at a local pub on just an acoustic guitar…it was fun.”

As a kid, Jackson had to travel around and live in a myriad of places with his family. He explained about his life as a youth filled with moving from place to place.

Airbender“You kind of have to learn how to move into a group that is already set. By the time I moved to Texas I was in sixth grade and all of the cliques had already been formed… It was kind of hard for me to find my place. I was always the class clown, if you will. By the time I got to Texas that role was already filled. So it was like, OK what do I do?”

His parents then introduced him to the theater. His sisters were already involved in the theater.

Jackson explained, “At first I was doing the behind the scenes things at this local community theater program. They taught you how to build sets if you wanted to do that side. I did sound design. I did lighting design, and I built sets.

After a year of doing that I noticed all the girls who were actresses were really pretty (laughter fills the room) and didn’t really want to talk to the guy behind the scenes; they were just talking to other actors. So, it was like, I’ve got to audition, I have to get in there. So I auditioned for the acting troupe in seventh grade year… and I started working with them. Yeah, I did for the girls.

I was curious to see what types of training he had to do for “The Last Airbender.” The movie was filled to the top with fight scenes and special effects.


When I asked him about his training, he replied, “I started off in January two years ago doing Kung Fu training in Los Angeles in the Paramount lot. I was doing Kung Fu about three or four hours a day. And then I did stick fighting to prepare for using the boomerang. If we get to do the next two films, then he becomes a swordfighter. So it’s like getting up to that.

And then we did boot camp, which was even more extreme, in Philadelphia, for all of February. We came up here, really training hard. I started doing more wrestling, more grappling, how to get out of holds, how to get into holds. It was fun. I loved doing it. “

He continued, “I actually did all my own stunts in “The Last Airbender.”  It was pretty exciting. My stunt double, I actually fought him. I trained with him every day, so…they ended up putting him in the costume.

So, I fight my stunt double, which is really funny because it felt like I was fighting myself. I broke one of his ribs, too. I was really upset about that. I tackled him from ten feet. We were running at each other. I slammed into him. I took him down with my shoulder right on his ribs, man, cracked his rib on the sixth take. I felt really bad.”

AirbenderAlong with being an actor, Jackson is also an excellent musician and producer.

“I’m about to release a brand new single with my band ‘100 Monkeys’. We have a single dropping July 7th called ‘Future Radio’. We’re releasing a live album on July 20th   and we’re going to be touring up and down the west coast of the US and Canada.

I also produced my first film last year called ‘girlfriend’ and I acted in it and my band actually composed the entire score for it. One of my band mates and I co- produced it.

And that’s not all. He continued,”…and right now I’m producing (another) film. We don’t have all the funding for it yet but the movie’s called ‘The Amazing Mr. Jones,’ which I’ll be acting in and producing as well and hopefully be composing a lot of the score”

The chance to interview Jackson Rathbone, an amazing actor, musician, producer, and person, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. His life is very interesting and I loved watching the movies he was in. He has accomplished so much so far at such a young age, and I can’t wait to see what he will do next.


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