SEABROOK A local high school student has already found fame in Hollywood but he prefers his life on the sea.
Jackson Nicoll, 17, grew up on the ocean, his family owns Al Gauron Deep Sea Fishing and Whale Watching and he spends much of his life these days outfitting the 90ft Northern Star.
But the Seabrook native is perhaps best known as Billy in Johnny Knoxville’s 2013 improv comedy Bad Grandpa.
Nicoll started his acting career by mistake at the age of 6. Nicoll’s older sister Jayden was going out for an audition one day when a casting agent asked her brother to audition for a role in The Fighter of the 2010s.
I had no acting experience, Nicoll said. They chose me from among 12,000 children. I had a small role as the son of Christian Bales. I didn’t know he was Batman at the time. But someone told me about a year later.
Nicoll has decided to continue to act. He picked a manager and went on to do a number of commercials, including one with the Pillsbury Doughboy and, according to the Internet Movie Database, Nicoll has 13 acting credits to his name.
The young actor finally caught the eye of Jackass star Johnny Knoxville. The next thing everyone knew, Nicoll was playing the role of Knoxvilles’ grandson in Bad Grandpa.
Nicoll was only 10 years old when he played Billy, and true to his title, Knoxville is indeed a terrible grandfather. Knoxvilles character Irving Zisman, 86, involves his grandson in many improvised Jackass-style pranks, including trying to ship the boy across the country in a cardboard box and having him perform a risky pole dance during a beauty pageant, all in front of unsuspecting passers-by.
Everything was improvised, Nicoll said. I had an earpiece and (the director) was saying something to get me started. But then it was me from there.
According to Nicoll, his experience chatting with passengers on the family’s fishing and whale-watching trips prepared him well for the impromptu part.
I’m really good at talking to people anyway, Nicoll said. I talk to people six times my age all the time on the boat. I like being on the boat and having everyone’s attention. The only thing I don’t like about acting is people telling me what to say. But I guess it’s acting.
Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow liked Nicoll enough that he gave him a small role in his 2017 drama The Book of Henry.
I was the bully in there, Nicoll said. I pushed the little brother down.
Nicoll has continued to hear the Call of the Sea throughout his acting career, and he’s semi-retired from acting, living the life of a high school student online and fishing since 2018.
Nicoll has said he looks forward to becoming a Northern Star captain once he obtains his 100-ton captain’s license when he turns 19.
I need this license to operate our biggest boat, Nicoll said. Until then, I am a crew member. My great-grandfather started the business. Im a fifth generation fisherman. This is very fun. It’s my whole life.
Nicoll said it’s the mystery of the sea that brings him back to the family business.
You never know what you’re going to catch, he says. You never know what you are going to see. I was in Hawaii recently and was about to get on a boat. I looked down and there was about an 8ft Tiger Shark swimming right under me. If I had missed that step and hadn’t been able to get on the boat, I would have landed right on it.
Karate is another of Nicolls’ passions. He is working on the second degree of his adult black belt and has said he intends to become a sensei, or teacher, at Salisbury Dojo within the next two months.
I started doing karate when I was 8 because of a movie role, he says. The movie was never made but I did karate and ended up falling in love with it.
He said no one really recognizes him in the movies anymore.
I am a little bit bigger and have lost weight, said Nicoll. But, if I had the opportunity to make another movie like Bad Grandpa that hardly involved any acting, I would.
Editor Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.