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Sundance 2014: The next Leonardo DiCaprio? Meet 'Hellion' breakout Josh Wiggins

When we first meet 13-year-old Jacob in Kat Candler’s Hellion, he’s hopping on his motorbike and furiously speeding away. In the next scene, he’s demolishing a vehicle in the parking lot of a high school football game as heavy-metal guitars scream. He bashes in the windshield with a bat as his friends decorate the doors with red spray paint. Jacob even seems to get one last shot in after he realizes that a few angry adults have spotted them.

These are deeply angry young men, but Jacob is more nuanced than a rage monster thanks to the stunning breakout performance of Josh Wiggins. As the eldest brother of a Southeast Texas family in turmoil — mom’s dead, dad (played with stoic gruffness by Aaron Paul) is basically a shell — the now 15-year-old Texas native is a revelation, reminiscent of a teenage Leonardo DiCaprio in his breakout role in 1993′s This Boy’s Life. With his intense brow, angular face and piercing eyes, he even kind of resembles DiCaprio physically. “I get that… sometimes,” Wiggins laughs.

Unlike Leo, though, Wiggins was discovered on YouTube.

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Sundance 2014: Aaron Paul raises 'Hellion,' talks 'Need for Speed' -- EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS

Aaron Paul officially got the last word in on Breaking Bad, punctuating the show’s Golden Globe acceptance speech for Best Television Drama with Jesse’s bad-boy catchphrase, “Yeah, bitch!” For six years, Paul created one of the most indelibly wounded and tragic characters in television and now that the show has run its course, it’s time for the 34-year-old actor to find that next thing.

In fact, he’s got several.

Next month, he revs the engine of Disney’s Need for Speed, a big-budget action movie based on the popular videogame. But before Paul shifts into the Hollywood fast-lane, he returns to the Sundance Film Festival for Hellion, a gritty drama about a family on the verge of disintegration. He plays Hollis, a recent widower who hasn’t recovered from his wife’s passing and as a result, is failing as a father to his two young sons (Josh Wiggins and Deke Garner.) When the eldest, Jacob, gets into trouble with the law, Child Protection Services moves in and places him with his aunt, played by Juliette Lewis. Hollis has to put his life back together, quickly, if he has any chance of keeping his boys together.

Hellion was written and directed by Kay Candler, and it’s appropriate that it’s premiering at Sundance. Two years ago, she debuted a short-film version of Hellion at the festival; and took special notice of Paul’s well-received turn in Smashed, which won a Special Jury Prize. Together, they embarked on a truly independent project, one that only ever gets made because passionate people insist on it. “We didn’t really get paid for this. No one did,” says Paul. “We did it because we loved it. We all knew that we were part of something special. It was a small crew, maybe 30 people. One of our producer’s parents were making food for us, you know, lunches and dinner. It was just such a sweet project, and we were just making a film that we all believed in.”

In addition to the quartet of exclusive photos from Hellion, Paul spoke to EW about playing a father figure, his upcoming Netflix cartoon, and what his first reaction was to the idea of a movie based on a video game. READ FULL STORY

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