Cameron Boyce, the brilliant young actor known for his roles in the Disney Descendants franchise and the television show Jessie, died in July 2019 at the age of 20 due to a seizure caused by sudep (sudden death). unexpected due to epilepsy). today, with the oct. Runt, a 2020 independent thriller directed by William Coakley, will premiere on streaming on September 19, and fans will be able to see him in his latest and most unexpected role.
During his life, Boyce was known primarily for his light-hearted and comedic work for Disney, which his father, Victor Boyce, says was not really a goal or aspiration of his. As a child, Cameron began his career as a model in print ads, and “coincidentally Disney was the first one he booked,” Victor tells the Hollywood Reporter. That pre-order was for a Halloween catalogue, and Cameron enjoyed his time on set so much (and made such an impression on the crew) that he became an organic launching pad for performing online.
runt, however, marked a turn towards more mature roles, and cameron’s character cal, a tortured and self-destructive teenager with a shoddy moral compass, was important to him personally because of his passion for tolerance and anti-bullying organizations. .
“he wanted to dig into a character that could really challenge him because the whole disney formula had become very, you know, not a challenge for him anymore,” says his mother, libby boyce, in a phone interview. “runt [has] a lot of dark problems; it is very clear that the message is: he needs parental guidance, he needs support, he needs role models to make good decisions. and that kids who don’t have that are on a slippery slope. That’s why Cameron was so interested in helping kids find creative outlets, because he knows and knew that creative outlets are a path to positivity and light, as opposed to negativity and violence.”
Cameron was so immersed in the role that he distanced himself from his family during filming to mirror the abandon Cal struggles with in the film. “I’m glad cameron warned me that he wasn’t going to be his usual self because he wasn’t. he was a bit dark and came in and avoided us; Cameron used to be very goofy and funny and considerate and sweet and kind, and he wasn’t like that during filming,” Libby says. “I didn’t know what method acting was, and he never said method acting, he just told me that the role he was going to play had nothing to do with his mother and his father had passed away. It was difficult. but I mean, nothing like our life right now.”
runt, which is available on platforms including apple tv+, prime video and vudu, is dedicated to cameron, who died while the film was in post-production. And as an extension of that dedication, 1091 Images (which acquired North American distribution rights to the film) partners with the Cameron Boyce Foundation, a nonprofit organization created by the Boyce family. The group’s goals are to raise awareness and funding to help cure and eliminate sudep; to reduce gun violence (inspired by a social media campaign called Wielding Peace that Cameron developed after his experience filming runt); And to support other causes Cameron was aligned with during his lifetime, such as The Thirst Project, which works to provide safe drinking water to communities in need around the world.
“it will be useful if [the film] does well because it will help the foundation and we will be able to continue working on financing for epilepsy and especially for sudep, that is very important for us. continuing cameron’s legacy is our top priority, and continuing the foundation is what we want to see happen. so hopefully this will help us do that,” says victor.
adds libby, “our primary focus is bringing epilepsy out of the shadows; one in 26 people has epilepsy and we don’t talk about it, and that’s why we don’t have enough research on it. so we feel like for the love of [cameron], we need to work on that since he had a platform that we’re trying to continue to use in an effort to make sure he didn’t die in vain, basically. so we’re learning a lot about epilepsy we have an amazing board of mds who specialize in epilepsy and additional people who have really become like family to us and we’re working with them to bring in research dollars and focus our research dollars about sudep, which is what took our son’s life, so we can make sure no other parent ever has to deal with this.”
Before his untimely death, the poetry-writing, guitar-playing actor/singer was also exploring screenwriting; Cameron was working with his uncle on “a comedy about being a young Hollywood actor,” Libby says. runt, and the foundation he is helping to maintain, are understated and powerful bookends for a successful career (and life) marked by playfulness and lightness.
“every time we see cameron it’s hard to see him because we can’t talk to him, we can’t touch him, we can’t tell him we love him, we can’t do anything with him.” says victor. “I like to see him here because I can’t anymore, in any other way than seeing his work.”