Child actor Jonah Bobo began acting at age 7 in the indie movie "The Best Thief in the World" (2005; starring Mary-Louise Parker). After appearing in the films "Around the Bend" (2004) and "Strangers with Candy" (2005), he got his big break when he co-starred with Josh Hutcherson as on-screen brothers in the big-budget fantasy movie "Zathura: A Space Adventure" (2005).
Jonah has been the voice of Austin on the fun-loving purple kangaroo on the 3-D CGI-animated children's TV series "The Backyardigans" since 2004. He will soon be seen as the younger version of Sam Rockwell's lead character in an upcoming dark comedy film directed by Clark Gregg, "Choke."
Childhood and Family:
In New York City, New York, Jonah Bobo (Jonah is his middle name, he hates his first name), nicknamed “JB,” was born on January 24, 1997 to an Orthodox Jewish family. The son of Scott, a software company worker, and Denise, a physical therapist and personal trainer, Jonah has been reading since he was 2 ½. He has a younger sister called Georgia. His great-grandmother was Tampa's businesswoman and philanthropist Salha "Mama" Bobo.
In his free time, Jonah likes to listen rock-n-roll music and playing the piano. He is a huge baseball fan, especially the New York Yankees.
At the age of 7, Jonah Bobo made his film debut in Jacob Kornbluth's independent drama/comedy feature, "The Best Thief in the World," starring Mary-Louise Parker. That same year, he was cast in writer/director Jordan Roberts' road movie, "Around the Bend," starring Christopher Walken, Josh Lucas, and Michael Caine.
During this time, he also began to provide voice of Austin on the fun-loving purple kangaroo, on the 3-D CGI-animated children's TV series "The Backyardigans." He continues to be part of the show when its third season was released in Canada in March 2008 and the series made its Australian debut in the same year.
Meanwhile, Jonah had an uncredited role in Paul Dinello's Sundance-screened film "Strangers with Candy" (2005; starring Amy Sedaris), a prequel to the TV show of the same name. He also got his first big break when he snagged the lead role of Danny, opposite Josh Hutcherson's Walter, the two boys who discover a space themed board game where everything inside it becomes real, in Jon Favreau's film based on an illustrated book by "Jumanji" author Chris Van Allsburg, "Zathura: A Space Adventure" (2005). He lost four teeth during the shooting of the movie and had to wear "flippers" (fake teeth). Although the big-budget fantasy movie didn't do well at the box office, Jonah's performance in the movie earned him a Young Artist Award nomination for Best Performance in a Feature Film - Young Actor Age Ten or Younger.
On shooting the film, Jonah recalled, "It was so fun but we got really hot in the harnesses because we had a biking shirt, biking shorts, then the harness, which was like sort of overalls. And then we had to wear our clothes over it and put holes in the clothes so we could attach the strings. But it was really worth it because we actually got to [fly]. It felt like we were flying. We were just up in the air, totally. It was so awesome,"
He also talked about his on-screen brother, Josh Hutcherson, saying "Well you know Josh says that he had nine years of training because he has a younger brother Connor that I hung out with. But basically we just had school so we didn’t really get to play. But at lunch, we’d always eat really fast so we could play a game of basketball or something."
About his favorite scenes on the "Zathura," Jonah revealed, "I have two. One was when I was flying on the harness and two was when I had to be horrible at baseball. That was so hard because really when I need to get something to my dad, I just throw it to him. And like it was sort of hard because I had to throw a ball to Tim [Robbins] and I’m like, ‘Alright, here comes a fastball,’ but I couldn’t. I had to act like I couldn’t [throw]. It was sort of hard to act like I couldn’t throw the ball. I was afraid that I would make too good of a throw. I’m not trying to be a show-off but I was afraid it would actually go in his glove. I’m like, ‘Okay, how do I do this?'”
Jonah subsequently voiced Tod the fox kit in the 2006 direct-to-video midquel to the 1981 Disney animated film "The Fox and the Hound," "The Fox and the Hound 2." He will soon be seen in an upcoming dark comedy film directed by Clark Gregg, "Choke," which was adapted from the 2001 novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk. The film that stars Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and is scheduled to be released on September 26, 2008. In the film, Jonah portrayed the younger version of Rockwell's character Victor, a sex addict who intentionally choking at restaurants to get money from his rescuers and use it to support his hospitalized mother (Huston).