With a pedigree like Hutch Dano’s, it’s no wonder why he got into acting. He’s not only the grandson of actor Royal Dano (‘Moby Dick‘), but his great grandmother was actress Virginia Bruce (‘The Great Ziegfeld’). Fresh off his first movie ‘Ramona and Beezus,’ Hutch is best known for his big break in the Disney XD series ‘Zeke and Luther,’ where he plays the former title character. With over 9,000 followers on Twitter and his upcoming role in the Disney Channel movie ‘Den Brother‘ on the front burner, the 18 year-old is poised to become Disney’s next biggest export, like his ‘Ramona and Beezus’ costar and pal Selena Gomez.
Despite being a little jet lagged from traveling from L.A. to New York and just finishing up a morning talk show, Hutch took a minute to chat about his upcoming roles, embarrassing date moments, and his new costar Selena Gomez.
Growing up in a family of actors, was it expected you also follow in their footsteps or did you just one day tell them this is what you wanted to do?
I think what happened was I knew a lot about my grandfather [Royal Dano] and my heritage but it didn’t really mean much to me until I did some plays when I was in about 5th and 6th grade that I really started to love acting and I started researching everything, my grandfather’s movies, that I really started to do it and I think that’s when I got the acting bug.
What was your first gig?
My first gig, I did a DirecTV commercial when I was 5 and I played a kid who went around a merry-go-round.
That must’ve been a fun day for a little kid.
Well, except the fact it was raining. It was at midnight, and they didn’t know it was going to rain, and it randomly started pouring so we had to shoot the whole thing while we were wet and I don’t remember it being too pleasant. But it was the first job I ever booked.
How familiar were you with the ‘Ramona and Beezus’ book series before you landed the role of Henry Higgins?
I was not familiar with it, actually. I became familiar with it as the audition process kept going. I try not to get really attached to a role, because I’m the type of person when I really start loving a character, it would break my heart if they went in a different direction. As it started to progress, and I started going for producers, I read the first Henry Higgins book and then I tried to find the ‘Ramona and Beezus’ book. But since the names were switched, of course Google couldn’t figure it out, so I could not find the book. Then I booked the role and Selena told me, ‘Uh, yeah, Hutch, they switched the names. Go on Amazon right now, type in ‘Beezus and Ramona’ and buy the first book.’ So, it was a long process but I read a couple of the books now.
How well did you know fellow Disney star Selena Gomez before landing the part?
I was in the Disney family, as well as she is, so I did – she had already been well on her way with ‘Wizards,’ I was very aware of her, and we did some promos. We did Friends for Change [the Green Initiative for Disney Channel] together so I met her there and I was friends with Jennifer Stone [Gomez’s costar on ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’], so I hung out with Jennifer Stone a couple of times, and Selena was there so I got to know her quite well. Then when I booked the role, I remember texting her about it, saying that I got the part, and she was stoked. To play someone’s love interest – especially when it’s very professional, it’s great to have someone that you know beforehand that you’re comfortable with, that it makes the chemistry – it comes much easier.
In the film, you (Henry) play the love interest of Selena Gomez’s character Beezus and she sprays lemonade over you; have you had any embarrassing, cringe-worthy moments with girls you’ve liked?
One that I can really think of that was really bad: I was hanging out with this girl, and I eventually asked her out. We went to the movies, and – I’ve told this before, because it’s also my first real date, because I was 14 years old. I remember that I wanted to get popcorn for us, and she was like, ‘I’ll just get a small one.’ But of course, I thought I had to get the really big one. So I get this huge bucket of popcorn, and then I walk back to my seat. Some guy has his feet up on the chair and he doesn’t see me, because he’s talking to his friend, and I’m trying to rush back to her – this is called ‘overeager’ [laughs] – so I get there, and I trip on the guy’s feet and I end up falling. The popcorn goes everywhere – even in her hair by the way – and everyone laughed at me! The lights were still up, and there was no way to like huddle down in your seat, so that was very cringe-worthy. And I’ll tell you, there was not a second date.
Many Disney stars have gone on to launch big time movie careers. Do you have similar aspirations?
I would love to do more movies. I love doing ‘Zeke and Luther.’ That’s live-action on camera, so it feels like a movie everyday. I think that’s why I love ‘Zeke and Luther’ so much that I would love to go do movies.
Any singing aspirations?
Not at all. Nooo [laughs]. I do not really sing ever. It’s not so much me looking down upon anyone that sings, because I have a lot of friends that are in business that do singing, and acting, because, you know what, they can sing and they’re really good at it. I even listened to a couple of their tracks, and Selena’s a great singer. For me, it’s not something that I – I think I’ve sang in the shower twice [laughs]. I’m much more into just doing comedy and dramedy, and stuff like that, but if the right musical came along with the right director, I’d probably go take singing lessons.
Are you interested in a specific type of movie?
I’m so much more about the people involved in a project, probably just because for me, I love stories that are character driven, things with great plots, of course, but it’s also about the people that you work with, because that’s how you learn. You have to love the project, but you have to love the people that are working on it just as much.
You’re a Justin Bieber follower on Twitter. Are you guys friends?
I’ve never met Justin Bieber, but my sister started talking about him, and I was like, ‘Let me see this guy.’ Then I listened to a couple of his songs, really liked them, and then followed him on Twitter, you know, to track the career of this guy, because he really has some good stuff.
‘Ramona and Beezus’ premieres Friday, July 23, in theaters.