Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close's Thomas Horn: 5 Things to Know
09/29/2011 AT 05:00 PM EDT
Aside from his acting skills displayed in the 2½ minute trailer for the buzz-worthy film, based on Jonathan Safran Foer's 2005 novel, San Francisco-born Horn has many other talents.
Here are five things to know about the up-and-coming teen star and the close bond he shares with his Academy Award-winning costars.
1. He was discovered during his Jeopardy! Kids Week appearance
When Horn won $31,000 during an episode that aired in July 2010, he was noticed by Extremely Loud producer Scott Rudin. On Horn's first day of eighth grade, his parents received a call from a casting agent asking if their son wanted to audition for the role of Oskar – and the rest is history.
2. Bullock immediately took him under her wing
According to Extremely Loud's director Stephen Daldry, when Horn first met Bullock, his reaction was, "Wow, I can't believe I'm acting with the biggest movie star in the world." But Daldry tells PEOPLE, "Within 20 minutes, Thomas and Sandy were roaring with laughter … [Sandra] made him feel like he was with one of his best friends."
3. He's an avid reader
Horn spends most of his time reading novels, as well as non-fiction. National Geographic and atlases are among his favorite materials.
4. He's worldly
Horn has no shortage of knowledge when it comes to languages from different parts of the world: he is fluent in English and Croatian, he has studied Spanish – and he's currently learning Mandarin.
5. Bullock acted as a role model to him
"It was a very familial environment on set," Daldry says. "[Sandra] understood the responsibility with a young actor who had never been in front of a camera before, and handled [the experience] with huge enthusiasm and a sense of humor to relax herself, Thomas and the crew around her.