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Hook Star Dante Basco Reveals The Memorable Scene He Thinks Got Him The Job During Auditions

Auditions are a vital part of any actor’s experience, especially when you’re a young up and comer like Dante Basco was around the time of his casting in Steven Spielberg’s Hook. From the beginning, the movie was a notable one, attracting actors far and wide to try out for parts in the director’s Peter Pan-inspired pseudo-sequel. In further reflections on the occasion of the film’s 30th anniversary, the story of how Mr. Basco was cast after only one reading is all the more amazing to behold. The actor recently shared exactly what scene helped him to land the gig, and it's a memorable one. 

Speaking with Dante Basco about his experiences on the set of Hook, as well as his role in the ongoing live-streaming drama Artificial: Factions on Twitch, all sorts of fun stories came about. Perhaps the most impressive one he shared was the fact that Basco went from calling his agents and telling them he wanted to audition alongside his younger brother to landing the role of Rufio in quick succession. He shared with CinemaBlend:

I don’t remember now, I’m sure it’s all in the archives somewhere. I believe it was the ‘crossing the line’ scene, like when I drew the line. And I don’t even know if it was... the way that Hook was being written, none of these, even the audition sides [were] nowhere near the end product of the film. They were rewriting so much as they went along.

In Hook, Robin Williams’ Peter Banning is the Peter Pan of J.M. Barrie’s classic stage play, all grown up. When his children are abducted by his nemesis Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman), Peter must become “The Pan” again, and lead the Lost Boys into battle. The only problem is, in his absence, Rufio (Dante Basco) has taken that mantle over, and he isn’t going to give up the role without a fight. This leads to the aforementioned crucial scene, where a line is drawn in the sand, and Hook’s Lost Boys are asked to choose whether or not they think Peter Banning is Peter Pan. The aftermath is a touching moment you can see for yourself. 

While what you see above is absolutely heartwarming and memorable, there’s a moment of true storybook menace in Dante Basco’s Rufio. With the simple invitation to “cross the line,” the challenge laid down by Basco’s eventual team player is a big deal, and a pivotal moment in the film. As the sides give to him for the audition may have varied due to Hook’s retooling process, the young actor kept the air of threatening energy that supposedly landed him the gig. 

Dante Basco himself wouldn’t come to know this until officially being cast in Hook, and even that part of the process was a story in and of itself. While only having one official audition, Basco was called back to speak with Steven Spielberg himself, which yielded an experience that had Dante even more nervous about his prospects. This is how Dante Basco went from a cold audition for Hook to becoming a part of pop culture history:  

Supposedly, the thing about it is, it was a unique thing, because I auditioned for it one time and then I ended up meeting Steven and he offered me the job. I only read the scene one time, and then he ended up hiring me. And that was in my initial first audition, the second audition we didn’t even read, we just talked. I was like, ‘Are you gonna...are we gonna...do you want me to read the scene?’ He’s like, ‘No, you don’t have to read the scene,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t think I got this job, mom.’ We literally just hung out, I didn’t even act, and she’s like, ‘Oh, ok.’ He ended up offering me the job, and when I talked to him on the set months later, I was like, ‘How did that happen?’ That was such the weirdest audition process for me, even as a young actor. I never booked a job in that manner, let alone a big film like this. And he was like, ‘You know Dante, we scoured the country for actors to play this role. Out of the thousands of actors we read, I saw your tape, and you were the only kid that scared me.’

When a young and talented actor like Dante Basco can scare Steven Spielberg, a man who’s helped terrify people through producing films like Poltergeist and directing blockbusters like Jurassic Park, you know this industry is home to some magic. Hook’s exhaustive casting process rested on one scene, and Basco nailed it in one. That’s not to say there weren’t some notes given to him on his performance, but even in his toughest form, Spielberg saw that Dante Basco was the Rufio for all time.

Believing someone is the right fit for the task is as important for an actor as auditioning to prove themselves. Dante Basco had his Peter Banning moment with Steven Spielberg, merely from reading a scene where he challenged his cohorts to defy his authority. The rest is Hook history, all thanks to Dante taking a chance, and his representatives having his back through the process. 

The 30th anniversary of Hook has yielded a brand new 4K UHD release, so now is a great time to revisit the classic. Don’t forget to check out Dante Basco on Artificial: Factions, which airs live every Friday at 5 p.m. PT, only on Twitch. Last, but not least, you can hear Mr. Basco and Avatar: The Last Airbender co-star Janet Varney reflecting on rewatching the entire series, through their podcast Avatar: Braving the Elements, currently available on iHeartRadio

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.