Cameron Bright hasn’t even turned 20, but he already has a reputation as a babe magnet.
It began a decade ago when the Victoria-born actor, then 10, unwittingly stirred controversy by taking a bath with Nicole Kidman. It was for his role as a boy claiming to be the reincarnation of her character’s late husband in the eerie drama Birth.
A few years later, he played a schoolboy who locks lips with Gretchen Mol’s character — a blond bombshell — in the 1960s coming-of-age drama An American Affair.
Now Bright is acting opposite another fetching actress. It’s for a role worlds away from Alec, the Volturi vampire he played in The Twilight Saga’s New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn Part 2.
He plays Manny, the 16-year-old son of Angie Flynn, the smart and sexy Vancouver homicide detective portrayed by Kristin Lehman (The Killing) in Motive, the new crime series that premieres Feb. 3 at 10 p.m. after the Super Bowl on CTV. Its regular time slot is Sundays at 9 p.m.
Creator Daniel Cerone, the Dexter writer, describes Motive as a “whydunit,” with both killer and victim introduced in the signature teaser. The format lets viewers solve the motivation for the crime alongside the detective.
“It’s really interesting what they’re doing,” says Bright. “It shows that not everybody who kills is a psycho. It brings out things like, ‘Why did this mugger or store clerk end up killing this random old guy?’ ”
Bright, who turns 20 next week, welcomed the chance to play a “fairly normal” teenager. It’s a departure from past roles such as the sinister clone of a distraught couple’s dead child (Godsend), a hairless mutant (X-Men: The Last Stand), a sadistic misfit (The Butterfly Effect) and Dakota Fanning’s spooky twin brother in the Twilight movies.
“I love my mother but I’m a bit more the rebellious teenager,” he says, explaining his Motive character, who he says learns it isn’t easy being a cop’s son.
The Nanaimo-raised actor said “great scripts” and the chance to work in Vancouver, where he recently relocated, attracted him.
Playing another character younger than himself, and opposite another attractive woman, is something he’s gotten used to.
“This always happens,” laughs Bright. “It’s one of the perks of the job.”
He says being cast in Motive is a byproduct of his Twilight experience.
“[Twilight] showed me how I could be at a certain level, fame-wise,” said Bright, relieved he didn’t become as famous as stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, whose lives have been mercilessly scrutinized.
“I’m lucky I got some great roles because of it. It let me take my first really big step into TV. It opened up a whole new spectrum.”
Although Bright has a new fan base of “Twi-hards,” he’s grateful he wasn’t in the limelight enough to have to worry abut being hounded by TMZ reporters.
“Doing Twilight teaches you to be a smarter person, that you can’t be out doing crazy stuff,” says Bright, who, with support from his mother, Anne, and brother Bryce, has remained grounded. “People seem to love that TMZ stuff, seeing good people who are praised so much just doing regular-people stuff, I guess. They do it because they are regular people.”
Bright would rather be where we found him — playing with his German shepherds Rommel and Jager in the backyard of his family’s home in Nanaimo, where he grew up playing soccer — than partying on L.A.’s wild side.
He admits he’s relieved he can move on, now that Twilight is behind him.
“Luckily, my role didn’t cause any blockage to my career,” he said. “No one’s trying to make me play just vampires.”
Bright, who also played the son of a tobacco industry lobbyist (Aaron Eckhart) in Thank You For Smoking, was cast last year as a disenfranchised teenager who bonds with a reclusive track coach (Richard Jenkins) in One Square Mile. He had to bow out because of a knee injury incurred during an intense training regimen for running sequences.
He also played a troubled teenager in Little Glory, a Belgian-Canadian co-production, and a high schooler who cruises across a floodplain in Invermere in a homemade raft with his sweetheart (Kacey Rohl) in Floodplain, a short film made by Victoria director Jeremy Lutter and screenwriter Daniel Hogg.
“I liked it because this guy from Victoria was trying to make sh-- happen … pardon my French,” said Bright. “I’m an Island boy. Gotta cross the water at some point.”
He’ll also soon be seen opposite Wes Bentley and Abigail Breslin in the thriller Final Girl.
He says transitioning from child actor to adulthood hasn’t been that difficult.
“When I was younger I was already doing adult-type roles,” says Bright, who keeps in touch with Godsend star Robert De Niro, his role model.
“Bobby D’s a good guy,” he says. “I worked with him when I was eight and now I can look at his career more from an actor’s perspective. It’s amazing he’s still waist-deep in the business.”
Bright says he doesn’t mind being reminded about his childhood roles in movies like Birth and Running Scared, the action flick he did with Paul Walker, but there are limits.
“It’s when everyone’s saying, ‘Oh, you were so cute,’ ” he says. “No man wants to hear everyone say, ‘You’re so cute.’ ”
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