Brian “Astro” Bradley interview: Rapper lands lead role in ET remake

Kam Williams | 7/9/2014, 12:50 p.m.
Brooklyn-based rapper/actor Brian “Astro” Bradley discusses acting career.

Brian “Astro” Bradley was born on August 26, 1996 in Brownsville, Brooklyn where he started rapping as at an early age. At 14, he successfully auditioned for Season 1 of the reality-TV series “The X-Factor” by performing a song he wrote called “Stop Looking at My Moms.”

Astro finished 7th overall in the competition, whose judges included Simon Cowell and Paul Abdul, and was subsequently signed to a contract by Epic Records. Here, he talks about making his acting debut as the narrator and co-star of “Earth to Echo,” a sci-fi adventure very similar to “E.T.”

Do you still live in Brownsville?

No, I live in Bed-Stuy, near Marcus Garvey [Elementary School].

What interested you in making the jump from music to movies?

I haven’t abandoned music. I’m still doing the music thing. I was 15 when I read the script for “Earth to Echo.” I thought it was amazing, and I couldn’t think of turning it down. It’s awesome for a kid from Brooklyn to have an opportunity to be on the big screen. And I had a great experience learning what the movie business is like. So, I’m glad I did it.

I loved “Earth to Echo.” It reminded me a lot of “E.T.” except with cell phones, texting slang and state-of-the-art gadgets like eyeglasses with video cameras.

I think that was producer Andrew Panay’s mission, to bring that nostalgic film back, but to update it with a 2014 spin.

Did director Dave Green give you any advice about how to act in front of the green screen opposite special effects that would be added later?

He gave all of us advice about ways we could portray our characters better. But as far as the special effects, I got more help from the visual effects team. It was definitely weird to act opposite emptiness, and later see the space filled on the screen by this little alien.

What’s going on with you musically? I know you have a new EP called “Computer Era” coming out.

Yeah, I’m going to put the EP out soon, though I’m not rushing it. I’m taking my time since I don’t have a due date. I’m going to drop the first video from it really soon, but I’m not going to say when.

At what age did you start rapping?

About 9, but I’ve been into music since I was 3.

Who would you say are primary musical influences?

The legends: Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z, Tupac, Snoop, Wu-Tang Clan, guys of that caliber.

Do you enjoy watching sci-fi films?

Yeah, but I really prefer comedies. And I recently started watching some kung fu movies like “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin” which I enjoyed because of the symbolism and what it teaches you. As far as science-fiction goes, I’d watched a few films, but now that we completed “Earth to Echo,” and I see how amazing it is, I plan to watch a lot more sci-fi.

What would you says is the main message of “Earth to Echo?”