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A neighborly vibe about 'The Kid & I'

November 28, 2005|Susan King

In "The Kid & I," Tom Arnold plays a down-and-out actor who is on the verge of suicide when he is commissioned by a wealthy patron (Joe Mantegna) to write a film for his teenage son (Eric Gores), who refuses to let his cerebral palsy get in the way of his becoming an action movie star.

It's not a coincidence that the plot parallels Gores' life: After all, Gores' father -- tech billionaire Alec Gores -- commissioned Arnold to write the big-screen vehicle and costar alongside the young man, who does have cerebral palsy.

Arnold and the Gores have been neighbors and friends for the past eight years. "I met Eric during a time when I was going through a divorce," Arnold says. "I would sit in the backyard and smoke cigars and this kid would yell over [the hedge].... We became friends." The elder Gores approached Arnold about three years ago and asked him to write a movie for his son along the lines of "True Lies," in which Arnold played Arnold Schwarzenegger's comic-relief sidekick.

When Arnold set out to write the movie, which opens Friday, he began by asking young Gores what he wanted to do on the big screen. "He would say, 'I want to beat up bad guys.' He wanted to help the homeless, he wanted to help animals." But most of all he wanted to get his first kiss in a hot tub with a beautiful woman, Arnold recalled. (And he does.)

Arnold called in a few favors during the making of the film, which cost a reported $5 million. He got his friend and neighbor Shaquille O'Neal to make a cameo, and Schwarzenegger took a day off from his governor duties to fly down from Sacramento for a cameo alongside his "True Lies" costar Jamie Lee Curtis. Linda Hamilton, Henry Winkler and Shannon Elizabeth also have roles. Penelope Spheeris directed.

Gores weighed less than 2 pounds at birth, and "nobody thought he would walk or talk," Arnold said. But by the age of 6, Gores had already decided he wanted to be an actor. He has studied voice and piano and began taking classes at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute when he was 16. More recently, he's taken acting classes at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.

Arnold says Gores is already dreaming up a sequel.

"He has many ideas," Arnold reports. "He wants to get married in the next one, but I said, 'No, no, no! You kiss in this one, but you get a date in the next one.' "

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