'Cat' doesn't have his tongue

At 11, Spencer Breslin can hardly remember a time when he wasn't on screen. At 3 he was doing commercials, at 4 he played opposite Dan Aykroyd in the "Soul Man" TV series, and at 8 he was the kid in the Bruce Willis comedy "The Kid."

His technique, as it developed, came partly through immersion, with perhaps a bit of Pavlov thrown in. (On "The Kid," "every time I was good in a shot, Bruce'd give me a Tootsie Roll," Breslin says with a laugh.)

And now he's on to the classics, in this case "The Cat in the Hat," due in theaters Nov. 21. Like many a Hollywood veteran, he's effusive when talking about his co-stars, but unlike some, he seems quite genuine. "Mike Myers" -- the Cat -- "is great. He was an amazing guy on the set," Breslin says.

The making of "The Cat" also brought the young actor his own war story. "Uh, I got sick during the shoot!" he says after a short pause. "I had my appendix taken out. No! Not on the set!" He laughs. "Actually it was on a Sunday. I woke up and I felt pain in my stomach." Filming was almost over in January and there were about two weeks left to the shoot. So what did he do?

"I took some Mylanta -- it didn't work. So that night my mom said, 'That's it, we're going to the hospital.' "

A diagnosis of acute appendicitis was followed by immediate surgery. The show, he says, went on. "They used that microscopic surgery, so there were only four pins holding the opening together and four days later, I was back on the set, running and playing and having a good time!"

The epitome of fun during shooting? The stunts. "I got to slide down the stairs on a cookie sheet -- wow! That was cool. They put a roller-coaster track down the stairs and attached the cookie sheet to it. They just pushed a button and down I went."

-- Carolyn Patricia Scott

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