’13: The Musical’ Breakout Star Eli Golden Feels ‘Lucky’ To Have Captured Being 13 On Film

Eli Golden stars in the new Netflix film '13: The Musical.' The young actor spoke EXCLUSIVELY about playing a 13-year-old while actually being 13, working with 'masters' like Rhea Perlman, and more.

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Eli Golden is having a breakout moment. The 15-year-old stars as Evan Goldman in the Netflix film 13: The Musical, which follows Evan as he moves to small-town Indiana from New York City after his parents’ divorce. His 13th birthday is on the horizon, and Evan must navigate his new girl and make sure his bar mitzvah is the coolest party ever.

Eli Golden
Eli Golden as Evan Goldman in ’13: The Musical.’ (Netflix)

When filming the movie about a kid turning 13, Eli actually was 13. He was simultaneously experiencing a lot of the same feelings that Evan goes through in the film. “I got to channel a lot of my emotions from being 13 and feeling this sense of middle place and not really being sure. I channeled it into what Evan is feeling,” Eli said. “That was a really lucky thing for me, to be honest, because I would have had trouble now remembering what it was like to be 13 and be in that kind of middle zone of young life. Now, looking back I’m super happy I got to capture that moment on film. I really grew up trying to film it. There was responsibility. I had to learn how to take losses. I also have learned how to take victories and really all important things.”

Eli’s onscreen parents are played by Debra Messing and Peter Hermann. His grandmother is played by the great Rhea Perlman. Getting to work alongside such major stars in Hollywood was not lost on Eli.

“It was incredibly intimidating to be completely real,” Eli told HollywoodLife. “I’m a huge Josh Peck fan, too. Man, everything they’ve all done. At first, I was really, really, really scared to deal with them, but they’re so good. As we went on, I felt more in my comfort place, and I learned so much. In every scene I did with them, I learned something new. I’d just go to the greenroom or go to my mom on set and go, ‘Oh my god, I learned this.’ It was a whole masterclass from the masters.”

The film chronicles Evan’s journey of preparing for his Jewish rite of passage. For Eli, it was “really important” to him to showcase the Jewish faith onscreen, especially for a younger audience. “When I was growing up, I never watched movies about Hanukkah or bar mitzvahs. It was always Christmas movies,” Eli said. “I’m so lucky I get to be a part of something that I can really represent because it’s really, really important to me. Also, I really love the idea of inclusion of how this whole town, which has three Jews in it, all the kids are there and they’re having a great time. It’s really cool and vibrant to see everybody there having a good time and accepting his culture.”

Eli Golden
The cast of ’13: The Musical.’ (Netflix)

Eli loved that 13: The Musical showcases how essential forgiveness is for everyone. “I feel like that was such an important message in this movie because forgiveness right now is super, super, super important. Actually one of Rhea’s lines is, ‘If you don’t forgive anybody, you’ll be left with nobody but yourself.’ I love that idea. That’s what really got me,” Eli admitted.

As for what’s next for the rising teen star, he’s working on an EP. “I have one song called ‘Back To Me’ out right now. I was super, super excited for that to be released because I feel like every song on that EP will be a mark from a certain moment in my life,” Eli revealed. “I’m really happy I get to be able to share that with the world. I have an amazing mother. She’s a singer-songwriter, and she helped me with some of that. I’m so excited for that as well.” 13: The Musical is now available on Netflix.

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