The family moved from New York to London in the summer of 1993, but kept their place in New York. The following April, a casting director tried to contact the Scardinos at their New York number about "The Indian in the Cupboard."
'I got frustrated'
The calls started in April. Albert Scardino didn't get around to returning them until August: "I thought 'The Indian in the Cupboard' was a mail-order house."
Twice, Hal flew from a family vacation in the South of France to America for screen tests. He got the part, then last October flew to the United States for an 84-day shooting schedule spread across six months in New York and Hollywood.
Acting in this movie was often about as much fun as undergoing a CAT scan. Hal endured endless close-ups. And he never actually got to act with the miniature heroes who make up the heart of the film. He did his scenes on a set. They did their scenes with a blue backdrop. The special-effects wizards did the rest.
"I got frustrated a lot," Hal says. "I felt like I was stuck at times. When I was really frustrated, I left to see my dad."
Albert Scardino says the movie brought him closer to his son. He also says he watched his son mature before his eyes.
"When we started the movie, Hal was a relatively immature 9-year-old," Albert Scardino says. "When we finished, he was a strong and self-confident 10-year-old."
But does Hal have the strength to sustain a movie career? The family will keep looking for good scripts, like the upcoming project, "Marvin's Room," an ensemble piece with a cast that may include Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton.
If Hal likes acting, he'll continue to act. If he doesn't, he'll go in-line skating.
But if he really had his way, Hal would go back to New York, where there is a video arcade on every corner and where the bagels don't taste like white-bread doughnuts.
"I miss my friends," he says. "I miss my house."
Then, looking at his father, he says, "I'm going to buy that house off you."
The kid could sure get used to this movie star stuff in a hurry.