Harrison County

Mississippi Coast native co-stars in Valentine’s Day thriller ‘Happy Death Day 2U’

A Mississippi Coast native is starring in a new Valentine’s Day movie sequel out Wednesday called “Happy Death Day 2U.”

Israel Broussard, 24, was born in Gulfport and grew up in Saucier, where his family lives on a farm.

He plays Carter Davis, a character he also played in the original 2017 film, “Happy Death Day” by Universal Pictures.

The sequel debuted Feb. 13. It can be seen in South Mississippi at theaters in Gulfport, Biloxi, D’Iberville, Picayune and Hattiesburg.

Broussard has acted or co-starred in 12 movies in nine years, along with other acting work.

He is the son of Gil Broussard, an IT specialist, and Angela Broussard, who works for Mary Kay cosmetics. They live on a farm and say they spend their spare time “raising donkeys and chickens and churning out organic compost.”

Israel was home-schooled before he began his acting career at the age of 16. His mother set her Mary Kay career on the side to take him to and from Hollywood and other locations for auditions and filmings.

“It’s only in recent years that I have been able to watch a movie that Israel is (starring) in, versus watching Israel in some movie,” said his father, who adopted him and his older sister after marrying their mother. Israel was 4 years old when his biological father died.

“I still get excited when he rocks the silver screen, but I’m also able to take in the movies as well.”

The original “Happy Death Day” movie is about a college student, Tree Gelbman, portrayed by Jessica Rothe, who is brutally killed by a mysterious, masked assailant on her birthday. She wakes up to relive it day after day, and the time-loop won’t end until she identifies her killer.

Rothe returns in the second movie, where her friends, including Broussard’s character, also become targets of the masked slasher.

The 2017 movie, a surprise hit, grossed more than $122 million worldwide on a reported budget of $4.8 million, according to Variety entertainment trade magazine.

“The movie was praised by critics (something we all know it’s not common in this genre) for its combination of dark humor, slasher, and a sci-fi spin,” reported FanSided, a sports, lifestyle and entertainment network.

The original has been described as “a combination of ‘Groundhog Day’ and ‘Scream,’” according to RelishMix social media analytics firm.

Broussard has always been fearless, his father said.

“Fear simply has never been Israel’s response to danger or risk,” Gil Broussard said, discussing what it’s like to watch his son be scared to death in the “HDD” movies.

“To watch Israel portray terror so convincingly and honestly reveals something that nobody understands better than me (maybe except his mom) — what a good actor he really is.”

Broussard began acting in community theater productions in Biloxi and Gulfport by the time he was 12, appearing in productions such as “Miracle Worker” and “To Kill A Mocking Bird.”

In 2007, he tagged along with his older sister to a talent scouting event in Biloxi, where his sister wanted to try out for a part on the Disney sit-com “Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” He auditioned, too. Neither got their parts, but a talent agent collected his information and decided to promote him for acting roles.

He got his start in commercials. In his first, in 2008, he held a laptop computer for a Walmart ad.

“Two hours for two seconds on the screen, but it was worth it,” Broussard previously told the Sun Herald, referring to the amount of time it took to film him.

In 2009, he spent five weeks filming “Flipped,” a comedy drama directed by Rob Reiner. Broussard made his movie debut with the film’s release in 2010.

His career includes movie roles in the crime film “The Bling Ring” (2013), the comedy “Good Kids” (2016, the thriller “H8RZ” (2015) and the drama “Say You Will” (2017).

He co-starred in two movies released in 2018 — the alien invasion film “Extinction” and the teen romance “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.”

He started rising as “a major teen heart throb” after the teen romance movie was released, PopBuzz entertainment and media group has said.

Broussard has filmed several commercials and appeared in episodes of three TV shows — “Fear of the Walking Dead,” Sons of Anarchy” and “Romantically Challenged.”

He co-starred in a TV crime-drama movie, “Perfect High,” in 2015, and has filmed commercials and appeared in a music video for MH3s “Claudia Lewis.”

Robin Fitzgerald covers real-time news, such as crime, public safety and trending stories. In nearly 40 years as a journalist, her highest honors include investigative awards for covering the aftermath of the fatal beating of a Harrison County jail inmate in 2006 and related civil rights violations. She is a Troy University graduate.