Frankie Muniz is the hottest young teen actor in Hollywood these days, from Malcolm in the Middle through to his Cody Banks franchise. Now he’s in London in his latest screen comedy. Canb success happen again? Paul Fischer reports.
Question: You had Angie Harmon as your “handler” in the last film. Now it’s Anthony. Contrast for us.
Answer: Well, Anthony is a much better looking person. Naw, Angie was amazingly beautiful and amazing to work with. I’ve never become so close with somebody on set as I did with Angie. I mean, I don’t want to get beat up. But Anthony is just hilarious and so much fun to work with. The days that he had off, were just dull because he brought so much to the movie. We all thought that the one thing the first movie lacked was more comedy and we definitely got that with him.
Question: What ideas did you have to make this bigger than the first one?
Answer: Well, I had a lot of ideas. Not having input with the script but as we were filming it, we were kind of rewriting scenes and wanted this to be funnier here and this there so Anthony and I would go in and try to come upwith some good lines. I think every line that Anthony says in the movie wasn’t scripted. He ad-libbed everything. It’s kind of hard. I’m used to being on Malcolm where I’m not allowed to change anything. The script has to be exactly the same. So, getting the opportunity to do what I want is kind of weird at first, especially being in a scene with somebody who is changing it up, and having to go along with that.
Question: Was the part designed with Anthony in mind?
Answer: Yes, well, originally it was supposed to be Angie in the original script but the reason that Angie didn’t come back was we wanted to make it a brand new different movie than the first. With her, it would be the same thing, with Cody and his handler. We wanted to bring in Anthony. We knew we wanted to add more comedy and we did with Anthony.
Question: Did you learn any new fighting moves?
Answer: Well, yeah. I had trained for two months before the first one, two hours a day martial arts training and the same for this one. I did pretty much all the fighting in this movie. Every fighting scene was me in this one. There were a few things here and there I didn’t do in the first. But I learned some new stuff I guess.
Question: How is the franchise different from James Bond? Where do they draw the line?
Answer: We wanted to make it a junior James Bond because every kid, every person looks up to James Bond and wants to be that character and I think that’s the great thing about Cody Banks. Now kids have somebody their age to look up to. ‘I want to be like Cody Banks’. So, we did want to go with that but we had to keep PG. We wanted to make it funny and hope people enjoy it.
Question: What about stunts? In there a line you don’t cross? You were on the roof.
Answer: The first movie there was insane action. The whole end, thirty minutes is just explosions and bam! Boom! Running around and jumping, fighting this person. With this one, we still had the action but it was more about making a funny movie [Argh!! Okay Frankie, we get it! ] and a good all-around movie but still kind of get the action. We still had it. Stunt-wise, if we filmed it here in the U.S. I probably wouldn’t have been able to do anything. But because we filmed it away I was kind of like ‘yeah, I’ll do it’. Probably shouldn’t have but I’m okay. It made the movie look better.
Question: What is the weirdest fan or Cody fan encounter you’ve had?
Answer: I love that more than anything, being recognized for Cody Banks because that’s a cool character. Everybody looks up to Cody Banks and everyone wants to be like him so for me to play him is really fun. But nothing really weird but there are those really weird fans who just follow you everywhere. It’s scary but other than that, nothing too weird.
Question: How many more sequels can you do?
Answer: I don’t know. Right now, I’m at a very critical point in my career where I’ll make the transition from child actor to an adult actor or a respectable actor. So, I have a whole bunch of movies lined up for this summer. Most of them are smaller, independent, dramatic movies where I’ll actually have to act it. In Cody Banks, for both of them, it was just fun and I just did it. For Malcolm, I’ve been doing it, we’ve done 105 episodes now. I don’t even think about it. So, I really need to do something different.
Question: What is it like being at that point? Scary?
Answer: I always thought, I’d turn eighteen, I’d be a legal adult so I’d be an adult actor and just continue to do what I was doing but it’s a lot more than that. I’ve been seeing it in the last two months. I haven’t been scared but I’ve really been thinking about it a lot, that I really have to do something at this point right now to break the mold. Because the last five years I’ve been doing Malcolm and “Big Fat Liar” and now the two Cody Banks movies and they’ve all been kind of the same thing; comedies geared toward a younger audience. I need to do something different.
Question: How different were the two “Cody” directors?
Answer: They’re very different. Harold was, he’d be talking about a scene and it would be ‘oh, I want to have a rocket ship come flying out of here and an explosion over here’. He just wanted to make everything big and really good where Kevin was more about making the movie funny and good scenes and when the action came, he would just let the stunt coordinators work that stuff out. That was the biggest difference I saw. I loved that Harold was so big but then I also like Kevin.
Question: Did Hannah show you around London at all?
Answer: I only had one day off a week and during that one day off, I’d fly to Norway for a premiere there andScotland the other week and I was always traveling around or working on something. So, the few days I did have where I could just like sleep in, I didn’t want to go anywhere. But, I was lucky. I don’t feel like I wasted any time being in London seeing stuff because we filmed at all the touristy spots so I got to see them where we were on the set. It was cool.
Question: Were you concerned about rushing this sequel?
Answer: Not really. We kind of had to but it turned out.. I was very surprised how it did turn out. We got the word a week before the movie got released last year that we were doing it in a month and a half. We were going to start filming so they had to write a script and I had to start training and do everything. It was kind of rushed but I wrapped the day I started Malcolm. I wrapped in London. I flew home and started Malcolm the next day. It was like ‘well, gang, if we’re gonna do it we need to do it now’. I wasn’t really concerned because I knew they’d make it good.
Question: As a child actor making the transition to more mature roles, are you forced to read and audition for parts?
Answer: Up until now, I’ve gotten hundreds of scripts and I can just pick which one I want to do. I loved Cody Banks so I did that. It was what was I going to have the most fun doing? Whereas now, I actually really have to read the script and look into who’s directing, who’s also going to be in it. And, there have been two movies this summer that I had to meet with the director and explain why I should be in the movie which is weird because I’d never done that. I’ve never been on an audition in six years. It was weird going back into that and be like ‘yeah, I really love the movie and I like this part’ and try to really sell myself.
Question: Can you tell us about the roles?
Answer: Well, they’re all kind of crazy. There was this one, I’m too afraid to do. I backed out last minute right after he finally said, ‘I’d really love to have you in the movie’. I was like ‘actually, I don’t want to do that’. I was too scared to do that but, the more they’re gonna be rated “R” movies, drama, getting into characters with drugs and stuff. There’s this one, it’s a Don Roos movie called “Happy Endings” where I’d be gay. It’s totally different from anything I’ve ever done. It’s weird. I need to make a jump to do a good movie but I don’t know if I want to make that big of a jump because all of my fans are like 12 to 18 and they wouldn’t really be able to go and see that. I’ve got a movie called “Kerwin” that I’m attached to right now that I love. We might be doing it this summer. It’s a very serious movie, a very serious role but everybody would leave liking my character.
Question: What was wrong with the scary one? Was the character a killer or something?
Answer: No. Just a weird, dark comedy movie. It was with a great cast, Woody Harrelson, Danny DeVito and JerseyFilms was producing it, Hart Bochner was directing. It was good because I’d be working with great people. That was the good thing about it but it was too much of a step for me.
Question: Who do you listen to for advice?
Answer: Well, my managers now. I’m 18 now so my mom is just my mom again. Whereas, before this, she always read the scripts and gave them to me and was very involved. But I started wanting to take over and see what’s going on. I listen to them an they really wanted me to do that movie and I read the script and liked it at first and met with the director and then I re-read it and got a weird feeling about it and went in and was like ‘you know, I don’t really want to do this’. And it was ‘are you sure?’ And phone calls went back and forth. There’s also this guy who works on Malcolm in the Middle. He’s a camera assistant who is an aspiring director and he’s a writer and I love everything he says. Everything he says is exactly how I feel so I always give him the scripts and say ‘read this and tell me what you think about it’. And he always says exactly what I was thinking before I even say anything so I take his advice a lot which is kind of scary but…
Question: Are there any other child actors who have made the transition you look to as role models?
Answer: I don’t really have like a role model that I look to but I think Michael J. Fox has an awesome career andDiane Lane. I just want to continue working for the next couple of years and get into that but we’ll see.
Question: Was the “Stuck on You” cameo kind of dipping your toe in the water?
Answer: Well, they came to me about that a long time before I did it and I was like ‘oh, sure. It’s one day of work inMiami. I actually worked twenty-three minutes. I was one the set. I went down and it did shake people up a little.
Question: We know you like investing your money in nice cars. How about investing in the Clippers?
Answer: That’s always been a dream of mine, owning the Clippers but I need 2 hundred and eighty-three more million dollars. [laughter] So, if you guys want to chip in, I’ll pay you back. I actually went up to the Olsen twins the other day and I was like, ‘You know, you guys have the money. You know where I live’.
Question: Did you know who S-Club was when you met Hannah?
Answer: I did, actually. They had this show on Fox Family here and always watched it when I was younger. When I went to London to do Malcolm publicity way back when the show was starting, they were everywhere. They were huge. That’s all you heard on the radio. I was excited to get to meet her and work with her.
Question: What character did you bring to a zebra?
Answer: Well, they didn’t want me to change my voice or be wacky. They just wanted me to be Frankie Muniz in a zebra’s body. So I just was me. I didn’t really get to play around with anything that much.
Question: What’s the story and have you seen any footage?
Answer: Before they starting filming, when I was in London doing Cody Banks, one of the days I did all of my dialogue for the movie and they put it on tape. So then when they did the rest of the filming…they filmed it in South Africa with the rest of the actors, they had my voice to go in and they could act with. Now that the movie’s completely done filming and they’ve edited it and are getting everything finished, I had to go in to watch the movie and resay my lines to make it match up better with the zebra, adding new stuff like that. So I’ve seen just that kind of stuff.
Question: What would your ideal role be when you are older? Action, comedy?
Answer: I don’t find myself funny. I don’t consider myself a comedic actor. I’m on a comedy show but Malcolm is just always very annoyed and upset. As if he were on “The O.C.” rather than “Malcolm in the Middle” but I enjoy doing drama, I enjoy doing comedy. I’d like doing action movies. I want to mix it up and do everything. I don’t want to be stereotyped as one specific type of actor, do one kind of movie. That’s why this summer is so hard and we are working on trying to get me out of that before I get stuck in there and nobody wants to see me in a dramatic movie.
Question: Did you ever wear a retainer (like Cody in the film)?
Answer: I do. I didn’t wear it last night so my teeth are kinda…. I do have a retainer but it doesn’t work.
Question: The Olsen twins are in college. Do you think you’ll go?
Answer: Up until a few months ago, I was like ‘I’m definitely going to college’ but I can’t right now. I can’t put anything on hold. I have to take advantage of every day that I have to continue my career. I can’t be like ‘oh, I’ll be back next summer because I’m goin’ to school’. School will always be there. College will be there. I’m doing fine right now doing this so I’ll just continue it for as long as possible and see what happens.
Question: Do you have time to enjoy all your cars?
Answer: Yeah. Being in L.A., working in L.A., it’s so nice because you’re home. You go to work and you get home and you have the car and I have everything whereas, filming in Vancouver and London I loved but I’m still like ‘I can’t wait to get home to see my cat and play with my dog’.
Question: Have you bought any new cars?
Answer: No, not since the last time we talked.
Question: Are you involved in any of the Clippers activities other than as a fan?
Answer: Yeah. I do all their Read to Achieve events and many of the Clipper charity things I do because I want to be around the players. The only people I’m fans of are NBA players. That’s fun for me and they had a big bowling thing I was supposed to go to but couldn’t the other week. But, I try to do as much as I can with their charities.
Question: You’re not a hockey fan?
Answer: I used to play ice hockey and when I was in Vancouver I used to go to Canucks games. But, I like the Clippers.
Question: Have you thought about Cody Banks 3 yet?
Answer: They talked about it if this one is a success but they would have to wait a year or two for me because I need to do something different?
Question: Would the series continue as Cody grows up?
Answer: I guess. I’m not too sure because it’s not too sure yet and they haven’t written the script.
Question: Any aspirations to be a producer?
Answer: A lot of the movies I do have lined up I am kind of a producer and I also have an MTV show we’re filming in two weeks and I’m a producer and kind of creator of that. Can’t say much about that because it’s going to change a lot. People will write in, like parents will write in or friends of someone will write in. The first episode we’re doing, we’re going to have a kid who has failed his driver’s license test like twenty times and I go in and surprise him out at school and I have my ‘girls’ like very pretty girls who go in and help me. We take this kid and we steal him out of school and we go to a racetrack and like Jeff Gordon’s there or a famous racecar racer and we’re like ‘here you go. You’re gonna drive the car around the track’.
Just to have fun and crazy stuff like that and the next is a kid loves John Mayer for example or loves some musician and plays a guitar and his dream is to play onstage in front of his friends who make fun of him or something like that. We get John Mayer to come in and teach him how to play a song and he goes on stage and plays with John Mayer in front of his friends. It’s going to be fun. We don’t have a title for it yet but everybody’s gong to want to be….whatever it is (assume he will invent word like Punk’d). Everybody wants their story to be done.
Question: What kind of music do you like?
Answer: I like all kinds of music. I don’t have a specific….. I’m still into John Mayer but I don’t know. Everything really (something) Five.
Question: Who are your real Frankie Muniz girls?
Answer: I have one girlfriend and she’s my Frankie Muniz girl.