By ERIC SCHELKOPF
"Boy Wonder," the feature film debut of Michael Morrissey, is capturing the acclaim of critics across the country.
The psychological thriller stars Caleb Steinmeyer (from HBO's "True Blood" and ABC's "Lost") as a 17-year-old loner who as a young boy witnessed the murder of his mother during a Brooklyn car-jaking.
The movie will screen at 5:30 p.m. March 19 in Room 476 at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) at McCormick Place Convention Center.
Morrissey and stars from the movie, www.boywonderthemovie.com, will be answering questions at the screening, and will be signing autographs on the show floor March 18 and March 19 at Booth 621.
A full schedule for C2E2 is at www.c2e2.com.
I had the chance to talk to Morrissey about his inspiration for "Boy Wonder," which he wrote and directed, and what he would like audiences to take away from the movie.
Q - How did you come up with the idea for the movie? What was your idea behind writing the script?
Being a teenager can be an interesting time. You kind of think that anything is possible.
When I was 13, I took karate classes thinking that I was going to grow up to be a ninja or something. And I was always reading comic books.
In writing the script, I was thinking of this kid who has something terrible happen to him and he embraces this idea that he is going to become a hero, a super hero.
I always thought that would be interesting to see what that would be like, what would actually create that character and what it would be like to actually try to go out and be a super hero.
A lot of comic books are more about the human nature of the hero, the human side of the story. And that's what this film is about.
Q - How did you go about lining up the cast?
That was very tough. For the main role, we looked at more than 200 kids to play this role until we found Caleb in L.A.
The problem was it was supposed to be this kid who had seen his mother get brutally killed in a car jacking. An 18-year-old actor doesn't have that much life experience to draw upon. He's more ready for a high school musical than he is to play Sean Donovan.
When I met Caleb, I totally dismissed him because his physicality was all wrong. He was 130 pounds. He looked like a stick.
But he blew me away in the audition. And I guess the reason for that was first of all, he is a great actor and secondly, that his parents were missionaries.
They took him all over the world, him and his sisters, and they would go to third world countries and pray for the sick and the dying. He saw death all the time.
He was more of an older soul than any of the other kids that I met. And that showed in his eyes and his performance.
Q - This film is getting a lot of praise. Did you expect such praise for your first movie?
I was a bit naive. I didn't even think about that when I was making it. I didn't even realize it was going to go out in the world and everybody was going to have a chance to look at it.
I was just concentrating on making the movie and making the story. I've been living with this script for 10 years.
I was a little surprised, pleasantly surprised, that it's getting so much attention and there have been so many good reviews.
Q - What would you say are the main themes of the movie, without giving too much away?
One of the main themes in the movie is perception. We kind of ascribe who is good or who is bad the way it is laid out to us.
There's a lot of bad people in this film. But you really have to pay attention to how you perceive who is the good guy and who is the bad guy.
You kind of attach yourself to this character Sean Donovan as the hero, this vigilante beating up bad people.
But then he starts to go a little further, and you say, ''Wait a minute. Who have I been cheering for this whole time?"
It's how you view it. It's your perception. We kind of all view the world in different ways. It's human nature.
Q - Speaking of super heroes, I believe that the actor portraying Thor in the new movie will be at C2E2.
I think the new movie will be cool. When you fall in love with a character like that, there's always the potential for Hollywood to come and destroy it.
Q - And then there's "Walking Dead" on AMC. The stars from that show are also going to be at C2E2.
"Walking Dead" is awesome. And I never read the book before I saw the show. I'm not a fan of horror. But "Walking Dead" I thought was fantastic.
Q - When will "Boy Wonder" be in theaters nationwide?
Right now, we're talking to distributors. We're hoping for a release in July.
We are just starting to get momentum. We're just starting to get some buzz. Hopefully it goes to a decent level, maybe a small theatrical release. That would be beyond my wildest dreams.