Nicholas Hamilton.

Young Australian actor Nicholas Hamilton flies to the US on Sunday in preparation for his very first Sundance Film Festival.

Hamilton stars as Viggo Mortensen's son in director Matt Ross' Captain Fantastic, which bows at the festival on January 23.

The young actor caught the bug after playing Elvis Presley in a Year 5 school production.

"I loved the behind the scenes [stuff] and all the rehearsals, and after the night of the play I went to my Mum and asked her what I had to do to get on TV", Hamilton said.

Hamilton first joined a small agency in Lismore before being referred to Catherine Poulton Management in Melbourne, who soon secured him a part in Kim Farrant's Strangerland.

It was during the Strangerland shoot, in a motel room in Broken Hill, that he put himself on tape for Captain Fantastic.

"I got one of my co-stars in Strangerland to read against me, and when I got home I got the call to talk to Matt Ross, the director".

Hamilton describes the film as about "a family who's lived in the forests of Washington State for eighteen years. They go hunting and live in a big tepee. A mum and dad and six kids. And then a disaster strikes, and they move back into civilization. It's about them fitting into civilization, and the dad's role of becoming a father again."

Shot in Washington State for the forest scenes and New Mexico for everything else, Captain Fantastic provided the rare opportunity for the confident young actor to work with other kids.

"It was really good. I had another five kids with me to play around with, as opposed to some sets where I'm the only kid and I've got nobody to hang out with. We all bonded and become a family by the end. When wrap came it was pretty devastating."

Hamilton is fulsome in his praise of his on-screen father Mortensen – who after starring with Kodi Smit-McPhee on The Road is an old hand at nurturing young Australian talent.

"He's the gentlest man you'll meet, especially with the kids. He's really quiet out in public, but he loved all [us] little ones to pieces. He was hanging around with us all day and telling jokes. He acted like a father figure. He's a great guy."

The young actor points out similarities between his recent co-stars.

"Hugo [Weaving] I compare to Viggo, because they're both so gentle and quiet but they both play rough characters, which I find interesting."

As for Sundance, he's excited to see his Captain Fantastic family, as well as the film itself. 

There are other films he's particularly keen to check out, too. "There are three movies [playing at the festival] that I auditioned for that I didn't get", Hamilton said, citing the likes of Kenneth Lonergan's Manchester by the Sea

"Hopefully I get some free time to see them".

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