Anton Glanzelius worries about all this interview stuff, see, because everyone might get the wrong idea about him. You know how people can get the wrong idea sometimes.
He fears they'll read a story saying that he was the 11-year-old star of the Swedish film "My Life as a Dog," that it was his first and only movie, that he became the youngest person ever to win the country's best actor award for his performance, and that now he's touring Washington in a limousine whose driver is feeding him about 3 million historical facts each block. Then they'll probably start assuming things, like that all this attention and success has him thinking he's Mr. Wonderful, or Mr. Sure Thing for any other movie he feels like doing. Or something stupid like that.
So Anton wants to make things clear right away.
"What do they call that thing over the stories in the paper?" he asks as he wanders through the Air and Space Museum. His quiet voice is trapped somewhere between Swedish and English and his head shyly leans into his right shoulder. "You know, the title? Is that what you call it?"
"Yes. Head-line. I think you should put right below it, in large letters: I Am Not a Movie Star. Please tell them that. Can you? I don't want anyone to think my head is so big."
As long as everyone understands that point, Anton figures it's all right to talk about "My Life as a Dog," which, despite its subtitles, has attracted large audiences across the United States this summer. The movie has played for 18 weeks in Washington, occasionally attracting sellout crowds.
"The studio was shocked at its popularity in D.C., and we had no explanation," says Freeman Fisher, director of promotions for Circle Theatres. "It's luring all kinds of people -- young, old, families -- and we're still reaching 80 percent capacity on evenings. It's amazing."
The movie's runaway success has lured Anton to the United States for the first time. His nine-city, two-week tour of the country with his parents -- music critic Ingmar Glanzelius and actress Margita Ahlin -- ended in Washington last week. He says he had no idea he was so popular.
While Anton was in Los Angeles, An admirer who had seen the movie twice tracked him down and invited him to his home at 11 on a Friday night. "Michael Jackson's house was so big and beautiful," Anton says, still stunned that the singer extended the invitation. "And he was very friendly. I liked him very much, but he was very shy."
When Anton made an advertised guest appearance at the Circle MacArthur Theater in Northwest Washington Wednesday night, nearly 200 people, many carrying cameras, showed up to see him and watch "My Life as a Dog," which chronicles the bittersweet life and confusing times of an 11-year-old boy, Ingemar, in 1950s Sweden.
"I just did it," Anton says, struggling to explain the role that has won the affection of almost everyone who has seen the movie. "I was too young to even think, 'Okay, you're Ingemar now. Act.' I just played myself. I don't want to call myself an actor. If I go around telling everyone I'm an actor, I think my head will get like this, you know." He quickly places open palms next to his ears, then slowly lets his hands drift more than a foot from his head. He laughs.
Two years older and four inches taller than he was in the movie, 13-year-old Anton still packs a well-timed devilish grin, and combines wide-eyed innocence with harmless spunk. This is a kid who charges up escalators, drumming the sides as he moves, but quietly waits for his mom at the top.
During the limousine ride he sits on the edge of his seat, his excited face inches from the dark glass window, often feigning weariness at the chauffeur's impressive, but endless, history presentation. In front of the White House, he leans halfway out of the car to take a picture. When the limousine stops outside the Old Post Office, he eagerly asks, "Is this Space?" He wants to see the Air and Space Museum as soon as possible. Friends had told him they had some cool stuff in there.
A few people recognize Anton during the brief afternoon tour along the Mall. Others look confused by his shirt, which displays the title of his movie. "When were you a dog?" a guard at the Air and Space Museum asks him. "It's a movie," Anton replies shyly.
"What? You turn into a dog in this movie?" the guard asks, laughing.
Anton shrugs and smiles. A few seconds later, after signing an autograph for the guard, he whispers, "More crazy people. There are so many crazy people in United States. I don't always understand them."
But he has much more than Americans to figure out. One recurring question is: What next? Anton says he doesn't care if he ever does another movie. Fame is fun, "but everyone always keeps asking if I want something to eat or drink everywhere I go," he says. Other goals take priority.
"I don't wish for a dream part or anything like that," he says. "I want to be a professional soccer player in Brazil."
Anton begins junior high school in Go teborg, Sweden, this fall, and will continue to play soccer for a local club team. The sport is an all-out, every-day passion he has pursued for seven years. He says he is ranked among the 30 best soccer players in Go teborg, the second-largest city in Sweden, and plans to travel to Brazil about six years from now, when he completes school.
"It would be fun there," he says. "They are allowed to play the game in a more exciting way. They can do unexpected things. I like unexpected things."
That's pretty much the reason he auditioned for "My Life as a Dog" in the first place, Anton says. He just wanted to try something new. He performed only once on a Swedish stage, and appeared four times on a Swedish television series when he was 8. "My Life as a Dog" director Lasse Halstro m remembered Anton from the series, and asked him to try for the role of Ingemar along with about a thousand other boys.
But he was told he was too young and too small. One week later, however, he received another call. "They said they couldn't find anyone better to do it than me," Anton says. "I thought it would be fun and exciting. And it was. But we worked from morning to the night for 80 days. It was very hard. I was happy to get even a five-minute break."
A scene in which Ingemar, nervously trembling at the kitchen table, accidentally throws a full glass of milk in his face was shot 26 times. Ingemar also boxed repeatedly with the local tomboy, Saga. She usually landed many more punches than he did. "I only practiced a few times for that," Anton says, wearing a look of disbelief. "I think she practiced too much."
His choice of favorite scene is an easy one. "I like when I fry the potholder in class," he says, laughing. "I never did anything like that before."
Anton enjoys talking about specific scenes much more than trying to explain the nuances within the movie's rite-of-passage theme. He's still not certain he understands all of Halstro m's intent with the film. And, besides, he has his own rite of passage to worry about.
"Sometimes, I try to think about it. I can't though. Every time I do, I can't understand that the United States, the biggest country in the world in film, likes what I have done. But I don't want to think about that. I don't want to think I'm famous or anything, you know. Then my head will get too big and everything like that."
Anton says he didn't even like "My Life as a Dog" the first time he watched it. "I was with only about 10 people at the preview," he says. "And I couldn't laugh or cry when I saw myself."
A few more viewings helped. "Well, the next three times I saw it, there were hundreds of people in the cinema, and I liked it more," he says. "I laughed when they did, but I don't know why." He shrugs.
A few more viewings helped. "But, the next few times I saw it, I started noticing more things I did, and why Lasse made me do some things," he says. "I think I did okay."
He pauses. "How many times have you seen the movie?" he is asked.
Anton's wry grin emerges slowly. "Uh, 14 times."