Canada’s David Kohlsmith is ‘The Prodigy’ in award-winning performance

David Kohlsmith

When David Kohlsmith first stepped onto a film set, it felt like destiny. He was barely five years of age, but he looked at the experience through a mature lens, seeing the opportunity to tell a story and explore a character through acting, far beyond the make-believe play of children. He was intrigued by the collaborative effort that was filmmaking. The opportunity to spend large amounts of time with the entire cast and crew and to build relationships with them that transpose into dynamic connections on set was a surreal experience for the young actor looking to make his mark. 

“The magic that all these actors, producers, directors, and all of the crew – from makeup artists to set decorators and everything in between – create on the set of a movie or TV show, is amazing to witness let alone be a part of. So, I wanted more,” he said.

Now at ten years of age, Kohlsmith is a dynamic leader of the industry as a child actor. He has starred in many acclaimed productions, including DC’s blockbuster Shazam!, which brought in over USD$363 million at the box office and was the comic book studio’s best reviewed film ever,  as well as the holiday flick The Great Christmas Switch, and the popular horror series Chucky

Chucky was hardly Kohlsmith’s first foray into horror. In 2019, he realized he had a knack for the genre when he starred in The Prodigy. When he first read the role he did not know it was for a scary movie and was told that the character, Miles, was a prodigy who was introverted and had a hard time making friends. When the director asked Kohlsmith to look at the spider and play with it while sucking on a lollipop, he found this very easy to do, and his mischievous grin when he decided to squish it was something he did on his own out of instinct. 

“The director, Nicholas McCarthy, called my mom to personally tell her how impressed he was with my audition. He said that he only gets to see the best of the best auditions for each role, but that my audition really stood out to him and that I was incredibly talented,” said Kohlsmith. “Nicholas said ‘most kids at David’s age just go through the lines, but David understands the character.’” 

The Prodigy stars Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Taylor Schilling of Orange is the New Black fame. Schilling plays Sarah, a mother whose young son Miles’ disturbing behavior signals that an evil, possibly supernatural force has overtaken him. Fearing for her family’s safety, Sarah must choose between her maternal instinct to love and protect Miles and a desperate need to investigate what or who is causing his dark turn. 

Kohlsmith plays Miles at age five in flashback scenes, pivotal to setting up the story and showcasing the progression from an intelligent child to a calculated murderer. Kohlsmith does a stunning job showcasing the nuances of the character, revealing dangerous instincts to the audience in a chilling and suspenseful way. It is immensely difficult for a child actor to portray such a complicated character, especially at the age of 5, but Kohlsmith captivates.

“For the most part, working on the scenes for this role was not much different from my real life – I would go to school, I would complete tests, etc. I liked the fact that Miles was gifted as I am also gifted and it made it easy to relate to the character. I enjoyed working with Taylor Schilling as my mother and Peter Mooney as my father,” he said.

The Prodigy was released in theaters across North America on February 8, 2019 and surpassed box office expectations. Kohlsmith was praised for his performance, and he went on to win the Joey Award for Best Featured Actor in a Feature Film later that year. Such accolades only cemented his understanding that he was meant to be an actor, and he now encourages any looking to follow in his footsteps to never give up on their dreams.

“If you are a storyteller and really passionate about acting, do not let anyone talk you out of it,” he advised. “Never give up! I try to remember that each audition is an opportunity to practice my craft and become a better actor. I take every callback as a win, even if I don’t end up booking the project. Directors see thousands of auditions, and to have mine stand out enough to grant me a callback, is the best feedback I could ever ask for.”

If you are one of the 74 million Netflix subscribers in the United States, you can check out Kohlsmith’s award-winning performance in The Prodigy, which is also available to rent on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video worldwide.