Love where you live!
LA MESA -- When the 22 Disney episodes were finally done, 12-year-old Jared Gilmore flew back from Vancouver, his home away from home, and rejoined his favorite pets in the backyard of his family's modest La Mesa house.
"I met Robert Downey Jr. and he was like just so nice,'' Gilmore said.
But after months of shooting the Sunday night Disney show Once Upon A Time, two things quickly became clear: Jared was tired and his parents were not typical stage parents.
"When we got home from the Iron Man tryout, I could just tell from the look on his face that he was so glad to be home,'' Renee Gilmore, Jared's mom said. "I just called up the agent and said 'no, Jared needs a summer.'''
And so goes the whirlwind life of Jared Gilmore. Cast last year as Henry, the precocious savant of the popular Disney family show, Jared and his Mom and twin sister, Taylor, moved off to Vancouver with a tutor in tow as week after week the scripts arrived and the show was filmed.
Taylor (in photo with Jared, right) eventually tired of the homeschooling life on set and missed her horse so she returned to La Mesa and enrolled in College Prepartory Middle School on Jackson Drive where she is a straight A student. She lives with her Dad, Vincent, who had kept on top of things at their Jefferson Street home while the kids were in Vancouver.
Jared never tired of it all.
"I loved the work,'' he said. "I always had time for school work and when I didn't have too much to do I could hang out with the camera guys and they would let me check out the cameras.''
With Renee and Jared in Vancouver, every Sunday night they would see the latest show's episode and then call back to La Mesa as Taylor and their Dad watched the show an hour later on Pacific Coast time.
The show proved popular enough that Disney signed up for another year of production and offered Jared at least another year in the limelight. TV fame is starting to have its effects on his life -- both good and awkward.
"Sometimes people just stare at me like they recognize me but they don't want to say anything,'' Jared says. "I prefer it when people just come up and ask.''
Taylor says as Jared has appeared on TV more often, he's become somewhat of a star at her school with many of the young girls considering him cute.
"One girl has had a crush on me since Kindergarten,'' Jared said, more out of curiousity than pride.
In many ways, Jared and his parents completely buck the stereotype of a stage obsessed family. He sits in his yard, playing with his beloved guinea pigs and picking at a scab on his leg. His mother yells at him to stop picking the scab before it forms a scar.
Without an ounce of guile, Jared looks up and says "I like scars.'' He is a 12 year old boy.
Still, the effects of creeping fame can be seen as Jared starts plotting ways he might use his growing fan base (he has 14,000 Twitter followers) to raise money to save an ailing horse at his sister's riding stables, Rocking Horse Ranch.
"Mushu is his name,'' Jared explained. "He was always my favorite horse.''
The owners of Rocking Horse rescue abused horses and use them to help inspire challenged teenagers and Mushu, the only horse born and raised on the ranch, developed a rare hoof disease which will require surgery.
Jared called his employer at ABC entertainment and asked them to add the ranch address -- RockingHorseRanch.org -- to his profile and the ranch is working on getting a website with a donation button up and running.
Meanwhile, Jared is busy enjoying the last few days of his summer. His second season starts July 16 and half the family will again relocate to Vancouver for the start of the new season. Don't ask Jared for any hints of what's coming up on the show though.
"I don't know,'' he said. "I get the script and I read my parts and shoot my scenes. I don't even see the show until it is on TV. That's the way it is.''
Renee now, like all year in Vancouver, hovers close, making sure her son is safe and remains grounded. At the first sight of displeasure with the TV life, she said she'd pull the plug and come home.
"It is hard on the family, but the good thing is he loves it,'' she said. "If he didn't, we'd be out of there quickly.''
Jared has other plans. Between scenes he's watching the directors closely and working to curry favor with camera operators who can teach him about shooting the scenes.
"I don't mind being in front of the camera,'' Jared said. "But I really like being behind it too. I want to be a director.''
Don't bet against this La Mesa kid.