10-year-old Hamilton actor T.J. McGibbon has 'amazing' role in X-Men: Apocalypse
The young actress, who plays Magneto's daughter, didn't know she was auditioning for X-Men at first
It's a sunny Friday afternoon, and 10-year-old T.J. McGibbon is doing homework on her family's front porch in Kirkendall.
She's polite and cheerful. She's surrounded by books. She's eager to talk about Hamilton, and her favourite vintage clothing store, and how much she wants the city to build a light rail transit system.
It's almost like T.J. isn't starring in the week's biggest blockbuster movie, X-Men: Apocalypse. But she is.
T.J. plays Nina, the daughter of Magneto, in the film released Friday.
He was a very giving person. He answered all her questions, because she usually has about a million.- Kimberley McGibbon on Michael Fassbender
She thinks it's exciting too, even though she wasn't sure what she was auditioning for at first. At one audition, she had to speak Polish.
"Even just to audition, I was really excited," she said. "But when I got the role, it was amazing. That's a pretty big set and I got to meet a lot of really cool people."
Acting isn't new to T.J., who started she was five and able to read her own scripts.
She comes from a family with creative roots, her mom Kimberley said. It's filled with directors and actors and artists and musicians. Her father, Jason, is a musician and local pastor. Her three siblings are creative too.
In five years, T.J. has accumulated a long list of credits. She's been a regular on three TV series: Odd Squad, Super Why! and Lucky 7. In 2013, she played Rick Mercer's daughter on an episode of The Rick Mercer Report.
With all this work, T.J. is home schooled. Kimberley regularly shuttles her back and forth to auditions in Toronto. On one trip, she unknowingly ended up at an audition for X-Men: Apocalypse.
She didn't know that at the time, Kimberley said. They sent her "sides" – dialogue to prepare ahead of the audition – but the movie had a dummy name, and the lines didn't appear to have anything to do with X-Men.
By the second and third audition, she knew. T.J., who had seen all the X-Men movies, was just happy for a chance. She got the part, and last May, headed to Montreal to film.
Even while filming, she had to keep the details top secret. "This is the first movie we've ever let her do where we hadn't read the script," Kimberley said. "We knew her part but that was it."
Much of her time was spent with Michael Fassbender, who plays Magneto. Fassbender is "just a really great human being," Kimberley said.
"He was a very giving person. He answered all her questions, because she usually has about a million."
Even as T.J.'s star rises, she has no plans to leave Hamilton. She has friends here, and dance classes, and her favourite parks and places on Locke Street. She went to a special cast and crew screening of the X-Men movie in Montreal this week. But her second viewing was at Jackson Square with some of her Hamilton friends.
Her next role, in fact, is Lily in a production of The Beauty and the Beast at the Staircase Theatre on June 3.
And as T.J. does her homework on a sunny Friday afternoon, she wears a shirt that says "Hamilton is Home." It's not just for the camera. She wears it all the time.
"People say, 'When are you moving to L.A.?'" T.J. said. But "Hamilton is like the coolest place on Earth."