Man on the Beat: Conor Donovan

Lake, Carley

While most of us kick back with friends during school breaks, Weinberg freshman Conor Donovan hangs with Hollywood legends. Donovan spent his time away from Connecticut public school doing Broadway with Paul Newman, playing a young Matt Damon and starring in an NC-17-rated movie. All he has to do now is figure out how to trade in movie-star life for college-dorm living.How did you get your start in the business?I went to an open casting call in New York City when I was 12, and I got pretty lucky. I started going out on film, theater and commercial auditions. The first call-back I landed was for “Our Town” on Broadway with the late Paul Newman. He was the nicest, friendliest person in the entire world and he treated me like a coworker and as a friend.What advice have you gotten from the actors you have worked with?The advice I have gotten is in the form of watching them do their acting and watching them as people. The way Matt Damon leads his life, shying away from the paparazzi and the public scene, and the fact that he’s devoted to being a great actor, shows how to lead one’s own career.How did you avoid turning into a sad, burned-out child star?I think I avoided this by staying in regular schooling in my hometown in Connecticut and going to college. Many kids move out to L.A. the second they turn 18. Your head is not in the clouds if you live the same way you always have.So you are staring opposite Sean William Scott in the movie Balls Out: The Gary Houseman Story. How does this movie compare to The Departed, where you played a young Matt Damon?Balls Out is about a terrible high school tennis team and a former tennis great-turned-janitor who steps in and turns the team around. It’s very risqué and gets pretty graphic with sex and drugs as my character struggles with his sexual identity. Unlike The Departed, this movie didn’t take itself too seriously. Working on Departed was pretty intimidating. I did my first scenes with Jack Nicholson the first day I met him. He’s definitely eccentric and I think that’s why he’s so great and he does his own thing too.Any advice for students who want to break into the business?If you really want to do it go for it no matter what’s holding you back. There is the idea that an actor’s life is always the life of a starving actor. It’s often a tough craft to make a living out of, but if you love it and get satisfaction out of it, you should definitely do it.