Previously Known For: Dennis the Menace, Rushmore and Spy Hard
|Currently Known For: Golf in the Kingdom|
“My love will always be acting, to me it is a job unlike any other job… Developing your mind and your ability to think critically is really important. As an actor, your mind is one of your most important tools. The more perspective you can bring to the table, I think the more range and variety you’re going to bring to your roles.” From child actor to national merit finalist and college graduate, Mason Gamble has proven that he can have it all and more after first rising to fame as the title character in the 1993 hit comedy film, Dennis the Menace. Chosen out of 20,000 hopefuls in a nation-wide casting call, Gamble gave a stellar performance opposite Walter Matthau and went on to star in Just in Time, Bad Moon and Spy Hard before stepping away from acting to enjoy a normal childhood. Over the years, he’s made sporadic appearances in television and film with his last major credit coming in the 2011 film, Golf in the Kingdom, which leaves us to wonder about the 31-year-old’s journey to fame!
Mason Wilson Gamble was on the brink of excitement and stardom shortly after celebrating his sixth birthday on January 16, 1992 when he persuaded his parents to let him audition in a nation-wide talent search for a new film called Dennis the Menace. Inspired by the comic strip of the same name, the film adaptation was a pet project among directors Nick Castle and John Hughes who spent years talking about creating a live action version of the cartoon before finally bringing the project to life with Warner Bros. Having already cast Walter Matthau as George Wilson, Castle and Hughes were looking for the perfect kid to play Dennis Mitchell, which ignited a nation-wide casting call where they auditioned over 20,000 kids before selecting Gamble for the iconic role!
Giving an incredible performance as the mischievous menace and taking home a Young Artist Award for Best Youth Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy, Gamble made a lasting impression on Hollywood and returned to the silver screen three years later as Noah in Just in Time, as McCluckey in Spy Hard, and as Brett in Bad Moon. Also venturing over to television with a cameo in Early Edition and ER, he appeared as Vincent Freeman in Gattaca in 1997 before snagging another leading role as Dirk Calloway opposite Bill Murray in the 1998 comedy drama, Rushmore. Once again, his performance turned heads as he earned nominations for a Young Artist Award and a Young Star Award.
Gamble continued to ride the wave of his growing fame and took home a Young Artist Award for his work in the 1999 television film Anya’s Bell before securing a recurring role in the 2001 television series, Kate Brasher. He added in film credits with The Rising Place, A Gentleman’s Game and The Trouble with Dee Dee, and appeared in episodes of Close to Home and CSI: Miami before stepping away from acting to finish his studies at Oak Park and River Forest High School where, in 2004, he graduated with honors as a national merit finalist. He then enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles where he was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity before graduating with his degree in 2008.
Making a slow return to Hollywood, Gamble was spotted on the silver screen in 2011 when he starred as Michael Murphy in the film adaptation of the 1971 novel, Golf in the Kingdom. “It is about a young guy at a specific point in his life and he has these expectations for where he is heading and exactly the path he needs to be on to get there,” Gamble said of the film. “He then has a 24-hour period that completely 180’s his ideas on that. It takes him everywhere he thinks he needs to be going and makes him realize that he is focused on the wrong things. I think a lot of young people are often at that transition in their lives. I know I was at my transition in my life not too long ago. This role seemed pretty appropriate with the timing of it.”
Getting the chance to work with David O’Hara of The Tudors and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—Part I was another perk of working on the project, especially since the film was shot on site at Bandon Dune just off the Oregon coast. “David is amazing to work with,” Gamble gushed of working with the talented actor. “Not only did he disembody the role of Shivas Irons, but the focus and the power that he is able to control on the screen… he really draws you in when he is in the same frame as you. The stillness that he can perform a scene with is really overwhelming. He is a heck of an actor and very professional. It was a really small crew and we were three hours from anything where we shot. So, having David up there for support and to lean on was great. We got really close and had a fantastic time together.”
Apart from working with O’Hara, Golf in the Kingdom marked another transition for Gamble who, after the film was released, announced that he’d gone back to school for his second degree; this time to study marine biology. “Right now, I have about two quarters left of school,” he said. Admitting in a 2011 interview that he still loves to act and that every chance to develop his mind will only add to his abilities as an actor, Gamble promised he would one day return to the industry, but that hasn’t exactly happened… at least not yet. With his website inactive and absolutely no sign of him on social media, the 31-year-old Gamble could be anywhere from studying sea life and diving the Great Barrier Reef to working in a corner office somewhere dreaming of his grand return to Tinsel Town. So, until we hear an official update, we’ll just have to settle for a little bit of nostalgia with reruns of Dennis the Menace where the freckle-faced Gamble always called out, “Hey, Mr. Wilson…” with a mischievous and toothy grin!