Boy Swallows Universe debut for Jake Cockburn

Published 12:22pm 11 January 2024

Boy Swallows Universe debut for Jake Cockburn
Words by Kylie Knight

One Albany Creek family will be crowded around the TV tonight when Netflix’s Boy Swallows Universe series is released at 6pm, keen to see Jake Cockburn make his television series acting debut.

The 11-year-old All Saints Primary School student, who plays the role of young Gus Bell, can’t wait to see the finished product.

The series is based on the Trent Dalton novel, of the same name, set in suburban Brisbane during the 1980s.

It tells the story of Eli Bell and the challenges of growing up with a lost father, a mute brother (Gus), a recovering addict mum, a heroin dealer for a stepfather, and a notorious criminal for a babysitter.

The series aims to blend the magic and innocence of youth with the brutal reality of the adult world.

Jake’s mum Leanne says he has seen parts of the series, which required him to record a voiceover, but is keen to see the scenes he filmed in their entirety.

He was involved in filming for six days in November 2022, for four different scenes, and had his own trailer with his name on it.

“It’s his first big role. He loved it,” she says.

For one scene, an old Holden was lowered into a quarry filled with water using a crane so Jake could be thrown out a window underwater.

The quarry scene was shot south of Brisbane and the other scenes were filmed in a warehouse at Yatata.

“The cast was amazing. He totally loved it,” Leanne says.

She says Jake, who has four sisters, told her he wanted to be a famous actor when he was five years old.

Leanne got him involved with talent specialists Agency 888 and he had done a few commercials before auditioning for the role in the Netflix series.

“His sisters are really excited. Everyone is coming over tonight to watch it,” she says.

Boy Swallows Universe debut for Jake Cockburn

Anticipation builds

Jake is also excited to see the finished product and says there is much he enjoyed about working on it.

“(I enjoyed) the new experiences that I had, especially the car scene in the quarry. That was scary but fun,” he says.

“I also really liked meeting new people – Simon Baker and Phoebe Tonkin and the whole cast were really nice.

“It was a really good experience for me.”

He is definitely keen to do more.

“I just want to keep pushing myself and to try to get some bigger movies and lead roles,” Jake says.

The youngster will soon audition for a Channel 10 series and hopes there are many more opportunities to come.

“My mum encouraged me to do it … when I got my first Wet ’n’ Wild ad, I just kept doing it and getting better jobs and thought I could get a bit better and I did,” he explains.

So, what did he like about Gus Bell’s character?

“He didn’t talk very much. I felt like he was a little bit like me. He’s a cheeky boy and so am I,” Jake says.

Boy Swallows Universe will stream on Netflix from 6pm tonight.

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