Ever since Holes, Khleo Thomas has been one busy guy. The fifteen-year-old actor plays the best buddy and wrestling teammate of a blind teen in the Disney Channel movie Going to the Mat, and heíll be back on the big screen as The Rockís nephew Pete in Walking Tall. Balancing Hollywood with schoolwork, family, and friends is no problem for this talented teen, and he told IML why!
IML: Had you ever wrestled before shooting Going to the Mat?
Khleo: No, but we had a good coach and he put everything together for us. He made us go through the steps of each move that we needed to do. We had training before the movie and during the movie. I noticed that I picked it up really fast. It was a fun experience, but full of surprises, too.
IML: Like what?
Khleo: When I first heard it was a wrestling movie, I knew that I had to wear those tights, but when I first saw them I was like, ďOh my God!Ē because I look so skinny in them. Each day I had to walk out in front of a crowd with them on. After a while, I kind of got used to it and laughed about it a lot.
IML: Did you identify with your character, Fly? How are you alike?
Khleo: There are definitely some similarities but the difference is Iím not a nerd. Flyís kind of a nerd, and nervous around people, Iím not. I try to be as cool with people as I can. Thatís kind of why the school is against him. But heís a musical guy, and music is something we both share.
IML: Thereís a scene where the jocks invite Andyís character Jace to go with them, leaving Fly behind. Did you ever have that happen to you?
Khleo: Yeah, when I was elementary school one time. It was about music. There was a music group out that I liked and no one else liked them, so it got lonely after a while.
IML: You have two brothers and a sister, right?
Khleo: Yeah. Iím the oldest!
IML: Are any of them interested in being in show business?
Khleo: Actually, the brother right after me, heís the athletic one. I thought I was athletic until I saw him. His name is Khadeem. When it comes to football, basketball, track, heís got it all. Khameel, the four-year-old, is into music and computers. We have a digital piano in our living room and he knows how to set it up and he can do anything on the computer, watch DVDs, go on the Internet, play videogames. My little sister Khaleea was just born five months ago, so weíre trying to figure out what she is. We all have the ĎKhaí thing in our names. Itís hard for my dad sometimes!
IML: Do you and your siblings get along
Khleo: Yeah, we do a lot of fun stuff together. Itís all fun and games for us. We hang out all the time. We have family reunions with both sides of my family.
IML: Is it a big family?
Khleo: Yes, especially on my mamaís side. Sheís from Morocco and has a lot of aunties and cousins she hasnít met yet. She came here when she was my age.
IML: What have you learned about her culture?
Khleo: My momís culture is amazing. She tells me everything about it. Their math over there is so easy and it helps with math here, with multiplying for instance.
IML: You were born in Alaska, right?
Khleo: Yes, I was born in Anchorage, Alaska because my dad was in the military. I lived there for like a month, thatís it. Only Khameel and Khaleea were born in the U.S.. Khadeem was born in Germany. I was about four when we came to the States.
IML: What was it like working with The Rock on Walking Tall? Were you nervous to meet him for the first time?
Khleo: Iíve been a fan of The Rock ever since he first came to wrestling. Every time I went to school I talked about The Rock. So when I finally got to meet him I couldnít believe it! When he walked through the door I went bug-eyed! ďIím standing next to The Rock, man!Ē Heís huge. Heís very nice, though. Everyone thinks he walks around with steam coming out of his head. No. Heís a real nice guy. But all that wrestling stuff he does he could do easily with me. It was fun doing scenes with him. We would joke around on the set. One time, he was supposed to throw me a blanket Ďcause I was sleeping outside, but he threw a teddy bear to me. It was pretty funny.
IML: Do you generally keep in touch with people you work with?
Khleo: Yeah, always. Iíve called Andy (from Going to the Mat) a bunch of times now. I talk to Shia LaBeouf. We hooked up on the set of the movie heís doing now, Constantine, with Keanu Reeves.
IML: Of everything youíve done so far, whatís your favorite?
Khleo: Iíd have to say Holes because of the experience I had. It was my first major motion picture and I got to work with the best people in the business: Jon Voight, Sigourney Weaver, Tm Blake Nelson, Patricia Arquette. And Eartha Kitt, who played my great-great-great grandma. It was a dream come true to be on set and work with these people every day.
IML: Who would you want to work with if you had your choice?
Khleo: Iíve been wanting to work with Adam Sandler for a while, and Bruce Willis too. And Halle Berry!
IML: When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
Khleo: At a very young age, I was in Germany watching TV and I told my mom I wanted to be an actor. She said, ĒGo for it.Ē When my dad retired from the military we moved to Los Angeles and it all kicked off.
IML: Do you think you missed out on anything by starting out so young?
Khleo: Thereís nothing I missed out on. I do everything a normal kid does. My parents keep me grounded. I still play sports. I still go to a rec center every day.
IML: What do you play there?
IML: What else do you like to do in your free time?
Khleo: Work on music. Hang with my friends.
IML: Since youíre home schooled, when do you see them?
Khleo: Every weekday, after they do their homework, we chill. If we want to we go to the mall and see a movie.
IML: What do you think is the most important quality in a friend?
Khleo: Basically, people whoíd be on my back. Three of my friends, the closest ones, Iíve known them forever. I grew up with and played on the same basketball and football teams with them. They always stick by me.
IML:Do you have a girlfriend?
Khleo: No, Iím actually single right now. I am looking!
IML: And what do you look for?
Khleo: Personality, a great smile, funny, and very smart.
IML: What turns you off?
Khleo: A girl with a phony laugh!
IML: What would people be surprised to know about you?
Khleo: I canít stop biting my nails. Itís a bad habit of mine. I like anything to do with math and numbers. I know a lot of people donít like geometry, but for me itís fun.
IML: Do you plan to go to college?
Khleo: Yeah, thatís my plan. I want to go to college and get my degree. I want to major in acting or biology. I also want to play basketball.
IML: Do you think you can make the team? Youíre not exactly Shaq-sized.
Khleo: I know, but size doesnít matter. If you can shoot and dribble and run fast, you can get on the squad. Iíve got some more to grow. I have big hands and feet. I wear a size 10 1/2 now!
IML: Who are your role models?
Khleo: My parents. My mom and dad have been together since they were in ninth grade. They had to deal with racial issues along the way and to this day theyíve been together. They taught me that no matter what people say, you have to be yourself. And if stuff isnít going a good way, it could turn out good the next time.
IML: Which entertainers do you admire?
Khleo: Will Smith, because he doesnít cuss in his rap. Heís an artist who does everything, from TV to movies to rap.
IML: Youíre working on a music career too, arenít you?
Khleo: Yes. Iím so into music. I love reggae, rap, rock. I love all kinds of alternative. My own style is hip-rap. Iíve been in the studio and I have six tracks down.
IML: Do you play any instruments?
Khleo: On the set of Holes, Shia taught me some of the strings on the guitar.
IML: What advice do you have for other kids who want to sing or act?
Khleo: Itís hard at first, but donít give up. You may go out on something you think is right for you and you might not get it. The first time it happened to me I wanted to stop acting. It was a TV show, Wanda at Large, and it didnít come through. I felt I was perfect for it. You can go two months or a year without booking something. Itís a challenge. There are so many actors and actresses out there who want to make it. My mom said, ďYou donít have to stop. Donít give up, this is just one.Ē
IML: Do you work with any charities or do volunteer work?
Khleo: Iím planning to get with the Starlight Foundation. Iíll be playing in Frankie Munizís charity basketball game this year.
IML: Good luck in everything, Khleo, and thanks for talking to us!
Khleo: Thanks to you too!
Read more about young celebrities in Celebs Say....
E-mail this page to a friend