When people mention “that creepy kid from The Ring,” they typically mean Samara, its murderous, supernatural, independent film-loving villain.
But from where we’re sitting, Samara was thoroughly out-creeped by one of the film franchise’s so-called heroes: Aiden, the precocious only child of Naomi Watts’ character, as played by David Dorfman.
Like, why did Aiden insist on calling his mother Rachel? Why was his steely gaze so perpetually unsettling? Why were his seemingly innocuous words somehow even scarier that Samara admitting she liked to hurt people?
And especially, why on Earth did he have that creepy-as-hell psychic connection with the dead girl? Did she recognize him as a kindred psycho-spirit, just like us viewers at home?
Yeah. Pretty much.
Anyway, creepy kids in horror movies have been a thing for decades (whaddup, Omen, Children of the Corn, Shining?), because for some reason, nothing is scarier than a tiny person saying big person things with a dead-eyed stare.
So it’s not exactly Dorfman’s fault that we’ll probably be slightly afraid of him forever … but lucky for him, he doesn’t need to care about what we think. Because he’s left Hollywood altogether, and is an actual genius.
Though it’s difficult to find much photo evidence of Dorfman over the past couple of years — geniuses are good at hiding — we do know that he continued acting until 2010, with his most recent role being the series Zombie Roadkill. Which is, well, exactly what it sounds like.
After that, reports from Business Insider and toofab.com confirm that Dorfman left stardom behind for academia, graduating from UCLA as valedictorian when he was only 17 years old (!!) after being admitted at 13 (!!!). He then went to Harvard Law School at 18 (!!!!), with Insider catching up with the actor in his third year.
“Being an actor, I was already accustomed to working in adult environments so college wasn’t a shock,” he said back in ’13, when he reportedly worked on three different legal journals — Legislation, Sports and Entertainment Law, and National Security — and served in student government.
“Oddly enough what got me thinking about pursuing law school originally was some of my acting work,” he told toofab in 2014. “I was on Ally McBeal way back when, and I did Family Law for a number of years. I might have been the creepy kid but I also was the legal kid. So that’s kind of how the idea started. I went to college at 12, graduated from UCLA when I was 17, and now I’ll be out of Harvard law school at 21.”
Dorfman is now 23 years old, and extremely difficult to find on social media — but given what we know of the actor up to 2014, he’s probably out somewhere saving the world. He headed to the Philippines to help the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda before graduating, noting its “corruption at that level where we don’t have to deal with at the United States.” (Note: he said this before the 2016 election.)
“My primary objective was to observe how the system works and this is such a fascinating platform how you do that … because you have the same structure as the US system but in practice it is so different,” he said. “In America, politics is like a chess game where you have two political players, competing against one another essentially. Here it is like the Olympics, where every legislator in the sense is a fiefdom. I can’t emphasize how much that changes … It might be the same structure, might as well be a parliamentary system.”
Uh, yeah. Sure. We understood some of that.
Dorfman was also passionate about helping people in his UCLA days, organizing improv workshops for inner city youth. So even though he’s very much out of the public eye and not on social media (he has an “official” Facebook page that looks very, very fake), we’re thrilled to see that Dorfman is on a great path, and totally respect his privacy … even if we wouldn’t mind getting a glimpse of “Aiden” when Rings premieres next summer.
“I think it’s safe to say I did pretty well when it came to horror films,” he concluded to toofab. “I thought it was great … yeah, I definitely did a lot of creepy kid roles.”