Jonathan Lipnicki on finding a second act after child stardom

Jonathan Lipnicki is entering a house of horrors in Circus Kane.

The film, now on VOD, centers on a reclusive circus master who will give $250,000 to anyone who can spend a night in his new house of haunts. A group of fame-craving social media stars take him up on his offer, but soon learn they will be fighting for their lives. Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray direct the film from a script by James Cullen Bressack and Zack Ward, based on a story by Sean Sellars.

Jonathan Lipnicki: Then and Now
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Jonathan Lipnicki: Then and Now
Jonathan Lipnicki talks on a phone in a scene from the film 'Jerry Maguire', 1996. (Photo by TriStar/Getty Images)
Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, and Jonathan Lipnicki (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Actor Jonathan Lipnicki attends The Creative Coalition's First Party in Washington, DC, January 20, 2001. Lipnicki gained fame in the movie "Jerry McGuire" with Tom Cruise. The Creative Coalition is the premier non-profit, non-partisan social and political advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. JS/ME
Young actor Jonathan Lipnicki and Geena Davis, stars of the new family film " Stuart Little", pose together at the party following the film's premiere December 5 in Los Angeles. The film, based on the classic children's book " Stuart Little", tells the story of a mouse who is raised by a human family. The film opens December 10 in the United States. FSP/SV
Supermodel Kathy Ireland poses with actor Jonathan Lipnicki as they celebrate the 45th anniversary of "Tony The Tiger," the breakfast cereal character, April 24 at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. Lipnicki starred in the film, "Jerry Maguire." "Tony The Tiger" is celebrating his 45th anniversary as the character on the Kellogg's Frosted Flakes cereal box. TONY
Young actor Jonathan Lipnicki, star of the new family film "Stuart Little", poses with a stuffed Stuart Little toy as he arrives for the film's premiere December 5 in Los Angeles. The film, based on the classic children's book " Stuart Little", tells the story of a mouse who is raised by a human family. The film also stars Geena Davis and opens December 10 in the United States. FSP/SV
(Original Caption) : Jonathan lipnicki: (Photo by Mitchell Gerber/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1059 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Jonathan Lipnicki with host Jay Leno during an interview on December 26, 1996 -- (Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Young Jonathan Lipnicki. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
Jonathan Lipnicki during The Princess Diaries Premiere at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Jonathan Lipnicki during 8th Annual Dream Halloween to Benefit Children Affected by Aids Foundation at Santa Monica Airport in Santa Monica, California, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)
Jonathan Lipnicki during 'Men in Black II' Premiere at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood, California, United States. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 30: Actor Jonathan Lipnicki attends the 'Tomorrow Is Now' product preview event featuring the next generation of computer items from technology company Hewlett-Packard on January 30, 2003 at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
Jonathan Lipnicki during 'The Haunted Mansion' World Premiere at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Jonathan Lipnicki during 'The Haunted Mansion' World Premiere - Red Carpet at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by Lee Celano/WireImage for Hollywood Reporter)
LOS ANGELES - MARCH 28: Actor Jonathan Lipnicki arrives at the premiere of 'The Prince and Me' at the Chinese Theater on March 28, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Jonathan Lipnicki and Tom Cruise during 'War of the Worlds' Los Angeles Fan Screening - Red Carpet at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California, United States. (Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage)
Jonathan Lipnicki during 'War of the Worlds' Los Angeles Fan Screening - Arrivals in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Jonathan Lipnicki during 4th Annual Tribeca Film Festival - 'LA Riot' Premiere - Arrivals at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Jonathan Lipnicki (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/WireImage)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 22: Jonathan Lipnicki attends American Eagle Outfitters And Declare Yourself Vote T-Shirt Unveiling at Palihouse on May 22, 2008 in West Hollywood, CA. (Photo by ANDREAS BRANCH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Jonathan Lipnicki (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
WESTWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 26: Jonathan Lipnicki attends UNSTOPPABLE World Premiere at Regency Village Theatre on October 26, 2010 in Westwood, California. (Photo by DAVID CROTTY/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 12: Actor Jonathan Lipnicki visits 'Sway in the Morning' on Eminem's Shade 45 channel in the SiriusXM Studio on June 12, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 05: Actor Jonathan Lipnick visits Hollywood Today Live at W Hollywood on January 5, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Actor Jonathan Lipnicki attends opening night for 'The Wizard of Oz' at the Pantages Theatre on September 18, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jennifer Lourie/FilmMagic)
BURBANK, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: Jonathan Lipnicki at the 9th Annual Burbank International Film Festival - 'Limelight' at AMC Burbank 16 on September 7, 2017 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Tasia Wells/Getty Images)

Lipnicki plays one of the social media stars, whom he describes as "a smartass" who has a good heart. 

In a conversation with Heat Vision, the actor also discusses moving on after rising to fame as a child star in Jerry Maguire and how a video poking fun at his role in the movie changed his life.

What got you involved in a movie about a killer circus master?

This kid named James Cullen Bressack with a ton of followers on Twitter follows me. I was like, "who's this guy?" I followed him back, because it says he's a filmmaker. He was verified and had the little blue check mark. He hit me up and said, "Hey man I'd love to work with you someday." I met with him and we really clicked. He approached me with a crazy clown movie. I'm scared of clowns. I felt like I was facing my fears a little.

On a small budget movie like this, it must be an intense shoot.

It was a couple weeks of go, go, go. I actually really like it that way. I'm not a person who likes to sit very still much. Also when you are moving that way, it lends itself to the work because you are already ready to go. It's a good amount of running around and sweating.

That must be different than when you were a child actor, where there are limits on how much you could work.

I don't know if it's changed. You had to get a minimum of three hours of school during the workday, which is great the have that for kids, but at this age I'm ready to work. I have a lot of energy.

What has the process been like of transitioning from being a child star?

I took kind of a break. It wasn't really traditionally a break. I was still auditioning here and there. I was kind of in an awkward phase, and I wasn't as confident in myself and the best thing as an actor you can bring to a role is yourself. When you aren't confident in who that person is, you're not going to be the best actor. Truthfully, I wasn't the best actor for awhile. I started going to acting classes right when I started doing high school. I've been in acting class since. Doing that and doing some theater has given me some confidence. It's humbling, because there is always so much to learn. I think that was the key for me. I'm always trying to level up and work more.

I was sort of re-introduced to you thanks to a funny Screen Junkies Father's Day video you did where you addressed your Jerry Maguire history head on. How did that come about?

There were two videos I did in that vein. The first one made a big impact in kind of jumping into people's consciousness. I made a video about a bad audition I had, "You Used to Be Cute." That helped a lot. It was me poking fun at myself and I feel you can't take yourself too seriously. At the end of the day, you got to be able to laugh at yourself. And the Screen Junkies video, I got to show that again, it was me having fun. I was having such a great time. I definitely think that helped a lot. Then I got to work on Screen Junkies again on their first digital series [Interns of FIELD]. These are all steps and I said it's a marathon not a script. I'm auditioning for everything. I couldn't be happier. And I couldn't be doing that and I'm in for a challenge.

What is auditioning like for you these days? Is it still "You Used to be Cute?"

I've kind of turned my blinders on. That was a really bad case. It's not so much I hear in the audition room, but there's a lot of stuff where you can't escape, sometimes people talking about your past. It's one of those things I've embraced so much, but there's got to be a time where I say, "Yeah I'm so grateful for that. It's amazing, I wouldn’t know what I want to do with my life, but I've got to move on." I love what I do so much that I want to live in the present, and I'm ready for people to join me.


Check out the trailer for Circus Kane below. And for more from the actor, his recent credits include teen comedies Loserville and Pitching Tents and he also produced the Denise Richards and Dolph Lundgren action movie Altitude. He is also appearing in season two of the Verizon Go90 My Student Body President.

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