Sparta HS grad working on the big screen

'The Kindergarten Teacher' is Sam Jules' latest movie

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  • Actor's official photograph Photos courtesy of the Jules' family

  • The crew on 'The Kindergarten Teacher' presented Sam with a cake

  • Getting wired for sound for 'Deadbeat'

  • Made up for his role as young Orville Wright

  • Sam Jules as 'The Young Pope' for an appearance on Steven Colbert's show

By Rose Sgarlato

— Recent Sparta High School graduate Sam Jules just wrapped up a movie playing Maggie Gyllenhaals’ son. The 17 –year-old actor started his career working for his mother, Tracie Jules who wrote, produced and directed the film “Spirit Hunters.”

The soon to be released film “The Kindergarten Teacher “ with Gyllenhaal was shot in New York City and is the most significant role Sam has played.

“Once Sam said he had an interest, he started getting jobs,” Tracie Jules said. “Soon after, he acquired a manager who connected him with agents.”

Tracie started in acting years ago and switched to writing horror scripts and also production. After moving to Sparta six years ago, she began filming Spirit Hunters using Sam and his friends as background actors and production assistants. The entire movie was shot on location in Sparta.

“Although Spirit Hunters was an amateur film, it provided Sam with hands-on experience of acting, lighting and sound too,” Tracie said.

Together, mother and son started building a resume and footage for Sam’s reel to show to agents for future roles. Also, acting coaches were hired to further develop Sam’s skills.

“My first notable role was in 2014 for a Hulu show called Deadbeat," Sam Jules said. "I played the bully in a flashback series.”

In the actors union two years, Sam has auditioned for many roles in various projects,including the younger version of Jude Law in the HBO series “The Young Pope.” He also played a young Orville Wright in a movie filmed in West Virginia, but the part got edited out. Plus, adds Tracie, Sam does a lot of voice-over work.

Producers of “The Kindergarten Teacher” are hoping to get it accepted into Sundance. The movie was shot in Brooklyn and Queens and Sam was on set for six days.

“The majority of my scenes were simple,” he said. “One scene was an argument with my Mom, played by Maggie, and it had to have more emotion.”

Working on “The Kindergarten Teacher” was rewarding for Sam. The crew welcomed him with open arms and gave him a cake on his last day.

“I really like the creative freedom in acting. All of my scenes with Maggie were great. She is a wonderful actress and she can play off of anything,” Sam said.

The film has not yet been released.

"I have now been told that the film is having a theatrical release, just no info on that yet," Tracie Jules said.

Having an experienced parent in the industry is definitely an advantage for Sam. Tracie is on set with Sam at all times.

“As a parent you have to stay out of the way on set,” said Tracie. “ But I really enjoyed getting to see Sam in action and am very proud of him. He had over two pages of dialogue and did a great job.”

Tracie manages the entire process of her son’s career, even making sure that Sam places his earnings into savings and checking. Recently the family moved to Prosper, Texas where Sam will attend community college in the fall, leaving room for him to continue his acting career. He does a lot of his auditions remotely through video and will fly to New York and Los Angeles for big projects.

Although he gets a lot of callbacks, Sam is used to rejection.

“No matter how good you do, you don’t know why you don’t get the job. You have to remain level-headed,” he said. “Acting is not going to be my primary concern, I do intend to keep doing it as long as time permits.”

And when not practicing his lines, Sam taps into what he calls his real passion — playing the guitar.

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