Kelly Blatz is living his dream of becoming an action hero, and landing the lead role on a new Disney station — Disney XD — makes it that much sweeter.
The 21-year-old Burbank native plays Charlie Landers in the new show “Aaron Stone.” Landers is a video game world champion whose expertise lands him a job as a secret agent.
Now he must fight crime while learning to use all the nifty top-secret gadgets in between keeping up his school work and home life.
So far, Blatz said, it’s a blast.
“It’s every kid’s dream,” he said. “I pinch myself every day. It’s an unbelievable experience and opportunity. I’m really excited to be a part of this show.”
The role calls for his character to be agile, Blatz said, so he draws from his experience playing football at Burbank High School.
His former principal at John Muir Middle School and Burbank High School, Bruce Osgood, remembers his athletic ability, commitment and fortitude.
“He’s just a multitalented kid, athletically as well as in the performing arts,” Osgood said. “He had a lot of talent, but what impressed me most in the athletic arena is he had a tremendous work ethic and drive to succeed and even though he wasn’t the biggest guy out there, he played like the biggest guy.”
Blatz also enjoys individual sports like snowboarding, surfing and skateboarding, he said.
He even trained in martial arts a couple of weeks before shooting began, he said, which got him ready for the fight scenes.
“I do a lot of stunts,” he said. “Charlie does everything — BMX riding and skateboarding — I grew up doing those things.”
But if the scene calls for a flip, they bring in the stunt double, he said.
When Blatz came in to audition, the show’s producers felt he was the perfect combination of an everyday guy but athletic and self-confident, said Adam Bonnett, senior vice president of original programming, Disney Channel.
“He has that quality that boys can look up to,” Bonnett said.
“He has the ability to play two people — someone who struggles with what goes on at high school, but is also a hero.”
Blatz also has a great knack for adding humor to the show, Bonnett said, which keeps it from being too dark for the younger kids watching in the afternoon.
The Disney XD channel has replaced the Toon Disney channel aimed at young children, which was very cartoon heavy, Bonnett said.
The channel was created for boys ages 6 to 14 who don’t feel Disney Channel or Nickelodeon are a home for them, and for girls who like action too.
“There wasn’t a network that gave this age range of boys a mix of cartoons and live action,” he said.
But the shows offered on the channel are girl inclusive, he added, because girls like action also.
And both boys and girls play video games.
Blatz grew up playing video games with his younger brother, he said.
The attraction, Blatz believes, is it’s a way to live one’s dreams.
“Video games are so realistic,” he said. “Whether it’s a sports star or action star, kids can escape what’s going on in their lives. They can win over a princess and defeat bad guys. They live out their fantasies through playing video games.”
And getting the chance to be the lead actor for a show on a whole new network for Disney is a way to inspire boys and girls to set goals and go for them, he said.
“That’s the message of the channel — to live out any dream you want — so it’s amazing to be able to help get the message across and be a role model through the show,” Blatz said.