Born on September 21, 1983 in Rhinebeck, New York, Joseph Mazzello spent his early childhood in a small urban home. His life which resembled a string of Norman Rockwell paintings would soon be changed forever when it was discovered that he had a gift for acting.
Joseph's first acting job involved standing outside in the freezing cold for five hours. When he finally got a chance to see himself in the British Airways commercial he discovered the only shots they had used of him showed the back of his head. With his then strawberry-blond hair he was easy to spot but this wasn't the kind of exposure Joseph was seeking. Joseph went on to play a kid with a stuffy nose, another with the flu and other ailments in several more commercials.
In 1988 he landed the role of Jason Harrison in the TV movie Unspeakable Acts. Not only would this be the first of two times he played a character named Jason, but it marked the beginning of Joseph's career playing abused children. It was also the first time his younger brother John appeared in one of his films.
Later in 1988 Joseph was offered the dream role of Wendell McGaffney, a kid who has his head put in a vice for being a "bad boy," for the film Presumed Innocent. Through shrewd negotiations Joseph's parents were able to get Warner Bros. to pay the $75 acting fee, plus also to reimburse him for the $75 SAG (Screen Actors Guild) registration fee. To show they couldn't be lured by the chance of Joseph appearing in a film with a big name star, his parents told the casting director they had no idea who Harrison Ford was. It's not clear if the casting director believed them. The truth was though that Mr. and Mrs. Mazzello honestly didn't know who Harrison Ford was.
Joseph continued his series of abused child roles as Bobby Wright in the 1992 film Radio Flyer. During the numerous scenes Joseph's character was slapped and beaten. There were many visitors to the set of Radio Flyer including George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Both were impressed with Joseph's expressive acting. Spielberg decided he was perfect for his next project Hook. He later decided against casting Joseph as Robin William's son in the film when it was determined he was too small for the part. Spielberg however kept him in mind for another role.
Next came the role that would forever haunt the Mazzellos. So much so that it's always been left off resumes. Jersey Girl isn't a bad film. Joseph just didn't have a very good role in it. But he did manage to get the coveted "and as" position in the opening credits, billing above Joseph Bologna in the closing credits and more written about him in the film's presskit than the director. In the same year
he also had a major role in the TV movie Desperate Choices: To Save My Child.
In the following year came offers for the role of Scotty Smalls in the film The Sandlot and Tom Hank's son in Sleepless in Seattle. He turned down both of them when Steven Spielberg offered him the role of Tim Murphy in the blockbuster film, Jurassic Park.
Just a few years before Joseph was carelessly playing with his brother and sister but now he was to have his own action figure. Though his action figured resembled a gorilla more than Joseph, the film got him unbelievable exposure and the offers started flooding in.
The late director Stanley Kubrick decided he had to have Joseph for his upcoming film Wartime Lies. When recently asked about his meeting with Kubrick, Joseph said "He was O. K.. When I was talking to him he kept staring at me and he was like, 'Sorry I'm staring. I'm just looking at your eyes' or something weird." Kubrick put Joseph on a two year contract. During the preproduction period of the film Joseph went back to normal life back in his home town. He tried out and was accepted for the local little league team.
Joseph had dreamed of playing on a little league team but had never had the chance because of his acting career. Joseph's dream would be cut short when he was offered the role of Douglas Gresham for the film Shadowlands. There was a problem though. Joseph was still under contract for Wartime Lies. Luckily Kubrick allowed Joseph to take time off to make Shadowlands. Wartime Lies was never made, but it did lead to rumors of Joseph being involved in the film A.I.
Shadowlands ended up being one of Joseph's greatest roles. He enjoyed the time he spent in England. The local kids were friendly and let him play soccer with them.
Next came the ever whining Roarke in The River Wild and the redneck with a heart of gold Charlie Cantwell in the TV movie A Father for Charlie. Joseph's acting talents were put to the test when he took on the challenging role of Dexter Evans in The Cure. Perhaps even more challenging than playing a kid with AIDS was playing opposite Brad Renfro. The vast difference in their backgrounds made it very hard for the two to get along.
Next came the biggest challenge of Joseph's career. Never had he been called upon to perform such difficult physical acting. As Tom Holman in Three Wishes Joseph had to act like he stunk at playing baseball. In reality Joseph's an exceptional baseball player. To get an idea of his pitching skills watch how much power he puts behind throwing rocks at Lou Gossit Jr. in A Father for Charlie.
After a career of hard-hitting dramas Joseph finally got his chance to demonstrate his comedic skills as Spencer Griffith in Star Kid. This was also the first time Joseph not only got top billing (his name was even bigger than the director's name in the end credits) but his character completely carried the film. The movie didn't do very well in theaters but was well liked by it's target audience.
Then came Joseph's first cameo when he reprised the role of Tim Murphy in The Lost World: Jurassic Park. He had two lines. The film came out before Star Kid which was still in postproduction at the time. This was the last time Joseph would star in a Jurassic Park film.
In 1998, Joseph played the best friend of the title character in the film Simon Birch. It was the first time Joseph played a character with his name. It was also
the first time he played a left-handed character, though through most of the film he used his right hand to pick up and handle props.
In 2000 Joe worked on a film called Wooly Boys. Joe played a character named Charles, a computer hacker.
Currently Joseph is studying film at University of Southern California. Though he hates reading and can't spell he amazingly still manages to get mostly A's, even in English. During holidays he flies back to New York State to spend time with his family in the same small town he grew up in. While there he hangs out with friends, occasionally plays baseball and picks on his little brother John. What does the future hold for Joseph? He's constantly reviewing scripts looking for the perfect next role. Occasionally he drives to Los Angeles to meet with directors. In addition to acting, Joseph directed his first film , Matters of Life and Death in 2006. This reunited him with David Strathairn who had worked with him in The River Wild and Simon Birch.
Please note this biography is from the Official Joseph Mazzello site.… Expand
Joseph Mazzello's Scores
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- By user score
|G.I. Joe: Retaliation||Mar 29, 2013||Mouse||5.3|
|The Host||Mar 29, 2013||Ian O'Shea||4.8|
|The Social Network||Oct 1, 2010||Dustin Moskovitz||8.2|
|Simon Birch||Sep 11, 1998||Joe Wenteworth||7.1|
|The Lost World: Jurassic Park||May 23, 1997||Tim Murphy||7.3|
|Jurassic Park||Jun 11, 1993||Tim Murphy||8.6|