By Lauren H. Dowdle
Photos by Lucasfilm, Blair Ramsey & “Pictures by Anna Grace”
Some actors wait their whole lives to get their first big break. For Grant Feely, it took less than a decade to land a role in one of the most iconic franchises of all time.
Now 10-years-old, Grant’s dream to become an actor was born after watching behind-the-scenes footage from Netflix’s Stranger Things three years earlier. “I saw how things worked and all of the different things about making a film, and I wanted to be a part of it,” he says.
When Grant expressed interest in acting, his parents took him to Birmingham Children’s Theatre, which is where they heard about Acting Out Academy in Vestavia.
The owner of the academy told his mother, Emily, he was really good and needed an agent. They took the advice and found an agent out of Atlanta and a manager in Los Angeles. Soon, he was auditioning for roles.
“We’re very blessed in Birmingham to have that as a resource,” Emily says. “They were great advocates for Grant and getting him started with his little hobby. We can’t say enough good things about them.”
His acting career began to take off, and he has since been in Netflix’s Creepshow and Echoes, Roku’s Panhandle and a music video, too. But his biggest role to date took him to a galaxy far, far away.
Grant landed the role of a young Luke Skywalker in the Disney+ miniseries, Obi-Wan Kenobi, which was released this past summer. The show follows Obi-Wan Kenobi and his time in exile, following the downfall of his former apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, who turned into Darth Vader. Obi-Wan is tasked with watching over Anakin’s son, Luke, which is where Grant’s part comes in.
But when Grant first auditioned for the part in April of last year, he didn’t know it was for Luke—only that that they were looking for a boy who was 8 to 10 years old.
A week after his initial audition, Grant had an hour-long callback with the casting director—and a second call the day after where they asked to see every audition tape he’d ever done. By mid-June, he was flown out to Los Angeles for an in-person audition. He was offered the role in early July and told he’d play a young Luke Skywalker.
While the part was a secret until then, Grant had his suspicions that might be it the whole time.
“I was in the studio doing the final audition and saw Darth Vader walking down the hall,” Grant says. “They also put me against a cardboard cutout of Princess Leia.”
That didn’t make it any less exciting when they told him what role he would be in. “When we found out, we called every person in our family,” Grant says.
One person he hadn’t anticipated hearing from was Luke Skywalker himself. Mark Hamill tweeted his support, telling Grant he was chosen for the role for a reason because they knew he would do a wonderful job as a young Luke.
“It was really shocking. I didn’t expect him to respond the day my name got released,” Grant says. “It was a really nice thing to do. It kind of gave me confidence. He didn’t have to do that. It was amazing.”
While Grant and his family—including his two older brothers—were thrilled about the news, Emily didn’t know what to expect and was a little apprehensive going into the experience, considering the franchise’s considerable fandom. However, those fears vanished when they arrived for filming.
“I think everyone was just so welcoming, kind and with no egos,” Emily says. “They respected him as an actor. I was really pleased with every aspect of it. It turned out to be a great experience.”
Instead of doing research to prepare for his part in the show, the team wanted him to do just the opposite.
“Before filming started, the director told me not to watch any of the films because she didn’t want me to act like Luke did in the future,” says Grant, who waited until after filming to watch all of the movies. “She wanted me to act like a random kid since young Luke doesn’t know anything about the Jedi or force yet.”
The series was shot in Los Angeles, from the studio and locations in Manhattan Beach to a mining pit for the Tatooine scenes. Grant’s character can be seen in three episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Actors like Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson shared the set with Grant. Most would probably be intimidated by that star power—but not Grant.
“I was super excited to see the actors, but he didn’t know who they were,” Emily says with a laugh. “I was nervous, but he wasn’t. They were just normal people to him.”
The first day on set, though, Emily could sense Grant was a little intimidated by the large scenery and alien species like the Barbadelan and Onodone walking around. But by Day 2, he fell right into his role.
“I loved it. I thought he did a great job,” Emily says. “I watched them film it all, so it was surprising to see what was actually used in the series.”
One of Grant’s favorite parts about being in the series was the stunt work he got to do. “On the last episode, there’s a chase scene where we’re going in the mountains and I’m on a wire,” he says. “Being able to do the stunt work was really fun.”
Something that surprised Grant about working on the series was how many shots the crew took. “There were so many different angles they did with the camera. It took an hour to do one 10-second clip,” he says.
When he isn’t in front of the camera, he likes to screen-write, read, travel and cook with his family—and just be a kid. The now-fifth grader at Vestavia Hills Elementary Liberty Park has been able to balance both school and acting with the help of the school.
“His teachers have been amazing,” Emily says. “Being able to act and be in public school has allowed him to keep his friends and just be a 10-year-old boy.”
It will be hard to top his role as a young Luke Skywalker, but Grant’s next goal is to land a leading role. He also enjoys horror and action movies and says he hopes to work in those, too.
“I want to be in the most fun things as possible and have the most experiences possible—and meet the most stars I can,” Grant says.
To follow his career and upcoming roles, check out Grantfeely.com.
From One Kid to Another
Although Grant Feely is still a child himself, he has gained valuable industry experience and insight from his roles and costars. But, his advice for other children looking to break into acting might not be what some might expect.
“Try not to act. Make it as real as you possibly can, so it’s not you acting—it’s you being in the moment with that person, and it’s not fake,” Grant says.
He also attributes his success to the instruction and guidance he received during his acting classes. “If you can,” he adds, “you should probably find an acting class that helps you on this journey.”