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When Full House debuted in 1987, Denver’s Elias Harger was, well, he wasn’t. The eight-year-old’s mother, Jeni, was just a pre-teen watching the Tanners figure out how three men could raise three young girls on ABC’s hit TV series each Friday evening. Now her son plays the middle child of DJ Tanner (Candace Cameron-Bure) in the reboot of the family sitcom, Fuller House, which debuts on February 26 on Netflix.
Elias—who attends the Colorado School of Acting in Centennial and was named the International Modeling and Talent Association’s Child Actor of the Year in 2014—was picked last summer out of thousands of boys to play the role of Max, the “Stephanie” in the flip-flopped narrative where DJ is a newly widowed mother to three boys. Initially, his tape was cast aside for him being “too loud,” but after two unsuccessful rounds of callbacks the casting team gave him a second look. At his in-person callback, he turned out to be exactly what the directors were looking for: an energetic kid who delivers lines, jokes, and emotion with ease.
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If you frequent plays in the metro area in the last couple years, you’ve likely seen Elias on stage. Most recently, he played Tiny Tim in the 2014 production of A Christmas Carol at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. But his new gig is a lot more time-consuming. He lives near Lowry, so Elias and his mother traveled back and forth to Los Angeles during the filming—leaving behind Elias’ father and two siblings. And when it comes to learning a script (or 11), its memorization for Elias until he polishes his reading skills. He’s also hanging around some people who kids of the 1980s and 1990s might recognize.
For any millennials reading: Yes, Elias is hanging out with Uncle Jesse (John Stamos), Uncle Joey (Dave Coulier), and Danny (Bob Saget) and he just calls them by their first names. Elias went trick-or-treating with Jodie Sweetin’s (Stephanie) kids. The food folks on set cater specifically to Elias, who would rather dine on bagels and Totino’s Party Pizzas than the other “fancy” food that is prepared for the rest of the cast. “This whole thing is surreal,” Jeni says. “Every aspect of this is something we never thought he’d experience. When I was 12 years old watching the original show, I always had fantasies of what it would be like to be a kid actor. Now Elias gets to experience it.”
Elias—who works with Denver’s Wilhelmina talent agency—will be in New York City with the cast for the premiere of the show, but then he’ll return to Colorado to find out whether or not the series is picked up for a second season. He’ll ski at Arapahoe Basin and hunt for his first feature film role, all while being a normal Colorado kid.
Follow assistant editor Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter @LindseyRMcK.