Former Tampa teen shares big screen with CGI critters
Carter Jenkins has worked with strange green critters before. The teenage actor from Tampa is sharing the big screen this summer with little green men from outer space in "Aliens in the Attic," opening Friday in theaters. Four years ago, he shared the small screen with a menacing computer-generated sea creature on the NBC science-fiction series "Surface." "I have worked with things that aren't really there before; but it's not something that I do that often," he said in a telephone interview. "And this time, the story is fun and it's not as dark and scary as 'Surface.'"Jenkins, 17, also is sharing the screen with Ashley Tisdale, of "High School Musical" fame. She plays his character's older sister. Tisdale has called the film "something like 'The Goonies' meets "Home Alone.'" "It's a good family film that was supposed to open in February but was held back," says Jenkins. Jenkins says the comedy is about siblings who battle goofy aliens that have invaded the family's vacation home. "My character is kind of miserable at first because he doesn't want to be there," Jenkins says. "He is being teased by his sister's jerk boyfriend and he feels like he doesn't fit in. He's a smart kid who wants to be cool." Kevin Nealon ("Saturday Night Live" and "Weeds") plays their father. Robert Hoffman plays the obnoxious boyfriend. Doris Roberts ("Everybody Loves Raymond") plays the grandmother. There are a couple of cute younger cousins (Henri and Regan Young) who join in the battle to save the world. "We filmed this more than a year ago in New Zealand and it seems strange because I've grown so much that I'm a different person now," says Jenkins, who is ready to move on to adult roles. He's landed a role in Garry Marshall's romantic comedy "Valentine's Day," with Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, Shirley MacLaine, Bradley Cooper and Emma Roberts. Born in Tampa, Jenkins grew up in the Carrollwood area where he excelled in dramatic arts and baseball. By age 7, he was acting in community theater productions and television commercials. He was an MVP on Little League teams and in AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) baseball. He passed up a chance to play on the All-Star AAU team as a starting pitcher to go to an audition for a movie. His parents, Eric and Mary Jenkins, moved the family to Sherman Oaks, Calif., after Carter began getting roles in films and television. His grandparents still live in Tampa. "I came back last year to be at their 50th wedding anniversary," Jenkins says. In the 2005 remake of "Bad News Bears," he played the son of Greg Kinnear's character. He also was in the Disney film "Life Is Ruff." He had a recurring role on Nickelodeon's "Unfabulous" and had roles on series such as "Lost," "CSI: NY," "Everwood," "Scrubs" and "Without a Trace." "Surface," which debuted in the fall of 2005, was canceled after 15 episodes but it had a large cult following. In 2007, Jenkins co-starred in the CBS musical drama "Viva Laughlin," based on a popular BBC miniseries. He played another outsider, the introspective son of a Las Vegas high roller. The series was canceled after two episodes. Jenkins says that after the cancellation of two TV series, he has decided to concentrate on film roles.
Reporter Walt Belcher can be reached at (813) 259-7654.