, Newburyport, MA

June 17, 2013

An encounter with 'Iron Man'

Port youth films part in Robert Downey Jr. movie

By Jim Sullivan

---- — When Bresnahan first-grader Finn Ingalls took the day off from school last week, it wasn’t for a doctor’s appointment or even to play hooky. He was skating his way into the movies.

“He’s not the type to go up on stage,” Finn’s mom, Maureen Ingalls, said. “He doesn’t even want to go out for the soccer team. But this seemed kind of right up his alley.”

The 7-year-old was playing the role of a young skateboarder in the Warner Brothers’ production “The Judge,” directed by David Dobkin and starring Robert Downey Jr., Vera Farmiga and Robert Duvall.

Ingalls had found out that the film’s casting company was looking for young skateboarders. Since skating is her son’s passion, the proud mom sent a video of him to the company and it was enough for the Hollywood types to bite. He landed the role and mom and son headed to Shelburne Falls earlier this month.

Ingalls and Finn got to the set early in the morning on June 5 with the plan to shoot his scenes first, but as with most film productions, things did not go as planned.

With no lines to say, Finn was paid as an extra and spent most of his time skipping rocks and skateboarding with his fellow skating extras.

“The parents were the ones who were more interested in stargazing,” Ingalls said. “The kids were more interested in skating around on their boards. They kind of bonded. It was just kind of a relaxing day. And I think that kind of helped when they shot the scene. By the time they got to that, they were the most at ease of the whole day.”

On set for eight hours for 15 minutes of shooting time, Finn and his new friends were playing three small-town Indiana boys who come out of a diner, skate onto the sidewalk, off the curb and across the street while Downey is in a car that passes by.

“He was nice,” Finn says of Downey. “After we were finished, he said, ‘Good job.’ And then he gave us a thumbs-up ... I’ve seen him in ‘Iron Man,’ but it was cool to see him in real life.”

His mom agreed.

“He was very nice,” Ingalls said. “He was very friendly. I mean, he’s Iron Man. So the guys were happy.”

Finn, who has been skating for a year and a half at the Newburyport skate park and harbors dreams of going professional, didn’t tell very many friends of his Hollywood interlude when he got back to school. But word of mouth soon got around, thanks to his friend and classmate Ollie Shakespeare.

“It’s pretty good. I guess I feel lucky for him, or something,” Ollie said.

“The Judge” is set to be released next year. In the movie, a successful lawyer returns to his hometown following the death of his mother, and learns that his estranged father, the town’s judge, is suspected of murder.