Famed Jewish director Steven Spielberg’s latest film “The Fabelmans” is his most personal yet. The semi-autobiographical movie tells the story of Sammy Fabelman, a young filmmaker, and his complicated relationship with his family.
But who is playing Sammy Fabelman, you ask? Hollywood newcomer Gabriel LaBelle, who happens to also be Jewish!!
Here are 18 things to know about Gabriel LaBelle.
1. Gabriel was born on September 20, 2002 in Vancouver to a family with a Jewish father.
2. His father is Rob LaBelle, an actor and producer!
3. Gabriel got his start in acting at age 8, when he got involved with a theater summer camp in his hometown.
4. Gabriel is still mad about some of the first roles he didn’t get at his theater summer camp!
He was cast as Lord Farquaad in “Shrek: The Musical” and Aladdin in “Aladdin,” despite wanting to play Donkey and Genie, respectively.
“Here I am, ten years later, just fuming,” he joked with Vulture.
Let’s pour one out for Gabriel’s chance to play Donkey with one of Donkey’s songs from the musical, shall we?
5. He began taking acting classes regularly at age 9 and was auditioning for roles by age 11. Thanks to his dad, Gabriel got his first onscreen role in the Canadian detective show “Motive” as the son of a strangled mortgage broker.
6. Gabriel’s first big film role was as Colin in the 2017 indie horror movie “Dead Shack.”
You can watch the trailer here:
7. In 2018, Gabriel landed the role of a bully in the mainstream horror movie “The Predator.”
Here he is in all his bullying glory:
8. Gabriel got into the drama program at Concordia University in Montreal in 2020, but put off school for a year due to COVID.
9. He beat out over 2,000 actors to play Sammy Fabelman, a version of director Steven Spielberg in Spielberg’s new semi-autobiographical film “The Fabelmans.”
You can watch the trailer here:
10. During the audition process, Gabriel got the chance to speak one-on-one with Steven Spielberg.
“It was a really intimate experience,” LaBelle told Vulture. “There were 40 people on the call with their cameras off, but it was just him and I talking. I felt in my bones it was the best performance I’d done in my life.”
11. Gabriel watched Steven Spielberg’s family home videos to get a sense of his character.
“I could feel the dynamic,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “I could be comfortable with the personalities ahead of time, and then I could see how he walked around back then, how he stood upright, which was helpful, just looking at photos of his face. I could see how he smiled and I could change how I smile to look like him.”
12. LaBelle and Spielberg have quite a few things in common!
“There are a lot of similarities I could understand,” LaBelle told The LA Times. “We’re both Jewish; we’re both kids of divorce; we both love films.”
13. Gabriel was intimidated to work alongside Seth Rogen in “The Fabelmans,” but also found some common ground with him.
“We’re both curly-headed Jewish actors from Vancouver who smoked weed in high school,” LaBelle told a reporter, apparently smiling. “Like, what’s not to love?”
14. According to Gabriel, he was “in a dissociative state” at the premiere of “The Fabelmans.”
Listen to him talk more about the film here:
15. Gabriel made Steven Spielberg cry!
“There were definitely moments that Steven got emotional on set, watching these deep memories displayed in front of him,” LaBelle told a reporter. “There were certain scenes that when we finished filming, we’d all just do a big group hug. It was intense. But selfishly, whenever he would cry, I thought, ‘I did exactly what he needed to help him process these things. I did my part.’“
16. After completing the filming of “The Fabelmans,” Gabriel moved to LA to pursue acting full-time!
17. LaBelle is also starring in “American Gigolo” alongside fellow Jewish actor Jon Bernthal.
Watch the trailer for the show here:
18. Gabriel’s next project is starring in “The Snack Shack,” an upcoming coming-of-age comedy!