In the movie – which opened in theaters Friday – McAuliffe, 16, plays a geeky, gawky high school kid with an obsession with aliens. But before you catch the film, meet the Sydney native who's already wrapped two major studio films.
1. He never expected to become an actor
Paging Doctor McAuliffe? The rising star says that before he made it onto the big screen, science was his favorite school subject. "I originally envisioned myself doing something with the suffix 'ology' at the end of it, like marine biology or entomology," McAuliffe tells PEOPLE. "But after I started to do some acting gigs, I thought it wasn't a bad thing … I said to myself, 'I might as well keep riding this bus until the wheels fall off.' "
2. He has a musical ear
The talent continues: McAuliffe says that although he can't read music, he can play it by ear. "I can play songs that I hear from a movie and just play it a few times on the keyboard," he says. "I will hit all the notes on the keyboard until I find the right key, and then I will play the rest of the song." Besides the piano, McAuliffe can also play the guitar, banjo and the drums.
3. But don't expect to see him on Glee
His costar Agron hits all the right notes on the Fox series – and that's the way it should stay, McAuliffe says. "I think I would be more embarrassed than anything if I had to sing on television," he says. "I guess if I was invited onto the show, I could play the banjo and sit in the corner and let Dianna do the singing. She's amazing."
4. Is he the next Karate Kid?
The young actor is learning martial arts to perfect his mind, body and soul – and to learn some kick-butt moves for future action roles. "You leave feeling really powerful, and you want to go find some random person and ask, 'Hey, can you grab my wrist – I want to show you something,' " he says with a laugh. And you wouldn't want to mess with McAuliffe in a back alley: "I can run up a wall and do a back flip – that's the most impressive thing that I can do."
5. Chores come first
No maid, no problem – even with a budding Hollywood career. "I do chores around the house, but I don't get an allowance for them," McAuliffe says. "I wash the dishes and sweep the floor … I'm sweeping the floor quite a lot, and my mum always expects me to get a broom and swagger it across the floor all the time."