Tom Hanks, no doubt, has made a hunk of money from Big; ditto Elizabeth Perkins, his co-star in the hit movie about a 12-year-old who suddenly finds himself inhabiting a grown-up body. Jared Rushton, 14, who plays Hanks’s eye-rolling sidekick in the film, best friend to both boy and man, also may have made a bundle; he just doesn’t know for sure. To keep his head from getting, well, big, his mother and stepfather put his earnings into a trust fund—without telling him the amount—but let him buy a 12-speed racing bike. “Pretty neat, huh?” says Rushton, showing off the vehicle in question. This normality may be genuine; while many actors, after a similar success, would be plotting their next career move, Rushton says his current project is “going to the beach every day.”
Spoken like a true Southern Californian. The fact that Rushton, who lives in Garden Grove, Calif., is a typical kid, only more so, may be the key to his career. At 5 he would watch TV and declare, “I want to do what those kids do.” At 12 he auditioned to play a punk in a Barbie commercial. “I spiked my hair up into a Mohawk with Dippity-Do, and I just started jumping around, like slam dancing,” says Rushton. “I got the part.” Soon after, he went Overboard in the Goldie Hawn-Kurt Russell comedy, then got his Big break last year. “He read with every star in L.A. and held his own against them,” says Big director Penny Marshall, who considered such major players as Robert De Niro and Harrison Ford before deciding on Hanks. For his part, Rushton considers Hanks the perfect co-worker. “It seems to me the bigger the stars I meet the nicer they are,” he says.
Asked about his ambitions, Rushton mentions personal and professional growth. In the latter category, he just finished filming a science-fiction comedy, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! As for personal growth, the 5’1″ actor says he hopes to reach 5’10”. “I measure myself every couple of hours,” says Rushton.
His mother’s goals sound like those of any parent. “Jared was playing piano at Penny Marshall’s house,” recalls Monica Rushton, 41, “and Robert De Niro told him, ‘I sure wish my mom hadn’t let me quit my lessons.’ Jared pretty much knew after that he’d never get out of it.”