Childhood & Early Life
Barret Oliver was born on August 24, 1973, in Los Angeles, California, to Kathy and Kent Oliver. He is the younger of the two sons born to his parents. His older brother, Kyle, born in 1970, was also a promising child actor. Kyle became a source of inspiration for his little brother.
Barret saw his older brother appear in small roles in a few films and became interested in joining the industry. He then started auditioning for TV and film roles. Living in Los Angeles, the center of the American entertainment landscape, also helped Barret develop an interest in performing in front of the camera.
His father was a popular interior designer in Los Angeles and had some contacts in the entertainment industry. Both Kyle and Barret got early auditions with the help of a family friend of their parents.
While auditioning for roles, Barret also continued his education at the ‘Los Feliz School’ in Los Angeles. He appeared in many auditions and had his mother act as his manager.
In the early 1980s, Barret bagged a small role in a commercial for ‘Jell-O,’ alongside actor Bill Cosby. It was his first experience in front of the camera, and although he was not required to say a single line in the commercial, he proved that he was comfortable facing the camera.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
After several failed auditions, Barret finally made his acting debut in 1981, with a small role in the series ‘The Incredible Hulk.’ He appeared in an episode of the series, titled ‘Veteran’. In 1982, he bagged yet another small role in a single episode of the series ‘Knight Rider’ named ‘Knight of the Phoenix.’
In 1982, he made his film debut with a cameo appearance in the film ‘Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again.’ The same year, he appeared in yet another small role, in the film ‘Kiss Me Goodbye.’ While playing these small roles in films, he also focused on his TV career with guest appearances in series such as ‘Love, Sidney’ and ‘Lottery!’
After making small appearances in films such as ‘The Circle Family’ and ‘Uncommon Valor,’ she got her big breakthrough as an actor in the year 1984. The year turned out to be career-defining for him as an actor.
In 1984, he appeared in a guest role in an episode of the series ‘Highway to Heaven’ titled ‘To Touch the Moon.’ His portrayal of ‘Arthur Nealy’ in the series was highly praised. For the first time, Barret’s skills as an actor were noticed by people. He ended up earning a ‘Young Artist Award’ nomination for the ‘Best Young Guest Actor in a Television Series’ that year.
The same year, Barret appeared in the film ‘The NeverEnding Story.’ The film was a major project based on a bestselling book of the same name. About 200 boys were called for the auditions. Initially, Barret was rejected, as he was considered too young to play the character. However, his performance in the audition was appreciated. After a 6-month search for the right person to play the role, the makers finally called Barret up and asked him to appear in another audition. Following the audition, he was immediately hired to play the lead role in the film.
The film narrated the tale of a young warrior named ‘Bastian Balthazar Bux,’ and Barret played the role to perfection, earning accolades and appreciation from the film fraternity and audiences. The film was a major critical and commercial success and earned Barret a nomination for a ‘Young Artist Award.’
The success of ‘The NeverEnding Story’ helped Barret get better roles in films. The same year, he appeared in the TV film ‘Invitation to Hell,’ playing the supporting role of ‘Robbie Winslow.’
Toward the end of 1984, Tim Burton considered him to be appropriate to play the lead role in his dark-comedy short film ‘Frankenweenie.’ It was Tim Burton’s quirky take on the classic story of ‘Frankenstein.’ Barret played the role of a young boy named ‘Victor Frankenstein,’ a science enthusiast immersed in gloom after the death of his beloved dog.
The same year, Barret appeared in a single episode of the series ‘Finder of Lost Loves.’
Continue Reading Below
1985 was the biggest year of his career so far. That year, he appeared in the film ‘D.A.R.Y.L.’ The film featured him in the titular role of ‘Daryl,’ a robot. In the film, ‘Daryl’ appears to be a 10-year-old boy but is actually a robot with a superfast brain and overwhelming intelligence. The film was a major box-office debacle and received mixed reviews from critics. Barret’s performance in the lead role, however, was appreciated and earned him the ‘Saturn Award’ for the ‘Best Performance by a Younger Actor.’
The same year, Barret appeared in the film ‘Cocoon,’ a science-fiction fantasy, which featured him in the role of ‘David.’ The film, directed by Ron Howard, was a major critical and commercial success.
By the mid-1980s, Barret had established himself as a bankable and talented young actor. In 1986, he appeared in the lead role of ‘Ken Miller’ in the TV film ‘Spot Marks the X’ and then appeared in another lead role, in the TV film ‘The Secret Garden.’
In 1988, he reprised his role of ‘David’ in the sequel to the film ‘Cocoon,’ titled ‘Cocoon: The Return.’ However, the film did not receive as much attention as the first film and was a moderate box-office and critical success.
In order to focus on his studies, Barret started moving away from films. After ‘Cocoon: The Return,’ Barret appeared only in the 1989 film ‘Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills.’ Following this, he disappeared from the screen.
He focused on his studies but never tried returning to acting. He began an alternate career as a photographer instead. He learned 19th century photography from artists such as Stephen Berkman and studied with artists such as Cole Weston and George Tice. Barret’s work has since been exhibited in many art galleries around the world.
He also took to teaching and currently teaches photography in Los Angeles. He also ventured into wet-plate processing and has recently done it for a commercial for ‘Guinness’ and a film titled ‘Cold Mountain.’ He has also authored a book titled ‘A History of the Woodburytype.’