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August 3, 2012.
Summer is here and
Zachary Gordon is busy promoting his new film Diary of a Wimpy Kid:
Dog Days - in which he stars as every-kid Greg Heffley. He recently
went to New York with his co-star Robert Capron (Rowley Jefferson) and
the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series author Jeff Kinney
to talk about the latest chapter in the series. Despite
an injured leg, there was no way he was going to miss this.
- the third Wimpy
Kid movie in as many years - is due out in theaters in early August.
Dog Days is the latest edition to this not-so-wimpy, very funny
teenís growing rťsumť of acting work.
Born and raised in
Oak Park, California, Gordon knew at an early age that he wanted to be
an actor. Since embarking on his career, he has been incredibly active
in both television and film. In a career that has been going for six
years (not bad for a fourteen year old), Gordon has been seen in
spots on hit television shows including How I Met Your Mother,
Desperate Housewives, 24 and iCarly. His movie roles date back to
2007 and include his starring role in all three Wimpy Kid movies,
as well as other films including National Treasure: Book of Secrets,
alongside Nicolas Cage.
Voiceovers have also
become a large part of Zachís body of work, with him lending his voice
to at least a dozen TV shows and films including playing the mischievous
puppy Papi Jr. in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, as Puppy Paws in
The Search for Santa Paws and as Baby Melman in
Madagascar: Escape to Africa.
Gordon is a smart,
witty, down-to-earth kid who loves meeting and talking to his young
fans, and urges them to stay real, study hard and stay active.
also loves all the experiences heís had and the people he has met thanks
to his acting roles. Gordon cherishes his relationships with many of
his co-stars including the entire cast of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid
movies and calls them all ďone big wimpy family that always has each
others backs.Ē But, Zach also wants to remain grounded, and holds tight
to his everyday life of public school, playing sports, video games and
just hanging out with friends and family. He doesnít have a girlfriend,
which he is totally cool with because he feels he is too young at this
point, but jokes that co-star Robert Capron has enough for both of
Recently, Gordon sat
down with me and my ten-year-old son George Seth at the Andaz Hotel in
New York to discuss the new movie, what heís learned from his years in
acting and whatís next for his career. During this enjoyable meeting,
we found that one of the best characteristics of this bright, young
actor is that he will always keep you laughing!
First of all, what did you do to your leg?
Well actually, I was
skydiving and an asteroid was coming towards earthÖ (laughs)
An asteroidÖ Wow!
Thanks for believing
me because most people are having a hard time believing me and itís
really frustrating. Iím thinking about contacting NASA about itÖ.
(laughs) Okay, Iím going to stop now. I actually slipped on a tile
floor with wet shoes. Nothing as original as I was saying, but I got
the ride of my life. (laughs again) I got my cast off about a
week and a half ago so now I just have this boot.
Had you ever read the
Diary of a Wimpy Kid books? Is that why you decided to
try out for the role of Greg?
I love answering this
question! I did read the books before I went after the audition. The
funny thing is I had wanted to make my own movie about it. Obviously
that didnít happen but I really did have my eye on the role of Greg even
before I heard about the audition. So when I did hear about it, I was
really excited. I had no idea I would ever be sitting in this chair
today. Itís like a roller coaster ride thatís not stopping. Itís been
Is it like the Cranium Shaker in the movie? Like a five hour wait and
you're excited and scared but you canít wait to
If the Cranium Shaker
wasnít stopping, I think Iíd have brain damage or wouldnít be alive
anymore. Letís just say itís like Itís a Small World In Disneyland in
California. Oh no! Now Iím gonna have that song stuck in my head!
I always do! Itís my sisterís favorite ride and she watches the video
constantly. She even watches the French version.
How does the French
version go? (laughs) "Merci, ouiÖ."
You have done a lot of voiceovers like Papi Jr in
Chihuahua 2. How did you get involved in that and is voiceover
work really different from acting in front of the camera?
Oh, man! Itís a huge
difference! I would have to say itís more challenging in some ways.
Yeah, you wake up and donít have to go through makeup, hair or wardrobe,
but thatís really not that big of a deal. But when you are speaking for
a character, you have to pull off the characters well enough that people
know whatís going on in the character's mind or what emotions heís going
through or experiencing. Thatís definitely a challenge. You have
one-on-one time with the director, but itís through a glass window.
Itís challenging. You still have to prep for it, like in all acting.
Both are different and unique in their own ways. Itís a great
experience too. There is so much to learn about the film industry. It
doesnít matter what part, thereís so much to learn!
I think you were a great pick for the Greg role. I canít imagine
anyone playing it better.
Well, thank you. I
really appreciate that. What I like so much about playing this role is
that it was like an experiment and challenge, because I was
really nothing like this character. I know that in order to pull this
off and make it real, I had to do a good performance. With you saying
that, it makes me think I really did my job and I greatly appreciate
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Movie Diary, it showed how you worked on
your acting and that was really cool to see you all working together.
Yeah, working on the
first one was really cool but between working on the set and school, I
was really busy. Working with these awesome people, I built such great
strong relationships and Iím really fortunate we all played off of each
other so well.
Which one of the movies was your favorite to film?
I would say I enjoyed
filming every single one. I have special memories from each. I had so
much fun. Really. Itís an experience I miss. I enjoyed it so much.
I try to treasure all the memories and everything. Every film was
unique in its own way.
you think Greg is a good role model or do you ever thinkÖ "Hmmm, should
I be teaching kids this?" Like lying to your parents or sneaking
around. Do you think the moral comes out by the end?
You know what, thatís
somewhat Rowleyís job. Whatís so great about these movies is I
think people relate to Greg because they may have found themselves in
similar situations where they might not have made the best decision.
Heís just like everybody else; a normal, likable kid.
characters are somewhat unique and theyíre the ones who tell the morals
and show the values of the movies. Each of the movies holds its own
message. I think personally, this one is the best because it teaches
you to learn from your own mistakes. Itís okay to make mistakes, as
long as you own up to it. Thatís important for our generation.
I feel like people are afraid to mess up and I think that what Frank
(his character's dad, played by Steve Zahn) says in the movie, that ďA
man who never made a mistake, never made anything,Ē is a really good
saying. It is something people should hold onto, because no one is
perfect and we are all unique in our own way.
There were obviously some funny scenes to film, but were then any
emotional scenes for you during filming?
Yeah. You know that
last scene where we pull out of the tent and it shows him and I just
lying there at night, well that was our last scene and it was like
really sad. I was crying. What really made me cry was Steve hugged me
and said, ďI love you man.Ē I miss it so much. I learned so much. The
relationships are so key to the movie. It wouldnít have worked so well
if we hadnít played off each other so well.
Did you have a good relationship with the Steve Zahn and Rachael
Harris, who played your parents?
We really were like a
family. I miss them so much. I always keep in touch with them. And
Robert (Rowley) is one my best friends. Sometimes, itís hard to relate
to the kids off screen though Iíve known them for a long time.
Sometimes, itís easier to relate to people in the movie business more.
Robert and I always hang out on Skype and iChat, talk and play games,
but itís not the same as seeing each other. I wish I could see them all
more and take advantage of that time.
you have to film any scenes over and over because you couldnít keep a
straight face - like walking through the men's locker room?
Most of the stuff
with Steve. He can always make me laugh. Most of his stuff is all
improvisation - his facial expressions and everything. Heís such a
great actor and he gave me some good advice. He said, if you ever play
a villain, think of it this way. You know how The Joker is really
creepy. He said if you play a serious villain, thatís creepy. But, if
you play a happy villain who really enjoys what he does, thatís even
creepier! Sometimes, the opposites of roles make the roles even more
enjoyable for the actor, and for the audience. What I love about movies
is you can become somebody else and make something that wouldnít necessarily
Did you always know you wanted to be an actor?
Somewhat. When I was
young, I just wanted to attention. I do it just for the experience, the
people I meet. People will say, youíre a celebrity. But, truth is we
are all people, we are all normal. We might be viewed differently
because we play a character. I try to stay grounded. I spend time with
my family and friends. Try to stay happy and healthy. Eventually I
want to go to film school and stay involved in the film industry.
Thatís my dream.
Do you think youíll continue to do family-friendly films or will you
branch out into other genres?
Good question! No
one ever asks me this! I would love to do a dramatic film. I was going
to do a couple of them. Doing a comedy is a real challenge. You have
to have perfect comedic timing to make people laugh. In dramatic roles,
you definitely have to stay savvy and definitely take more time to get
into character, but theyíre so different. Iíd love to branch out into
anything and experiment with any kind of role. It would be great. Any
character that I could become and make believable, Iíd be happy to do.
A crime fighterÖ Batman or Robin. (laughs) A lot of people
just know me from the Wimpy Kid roles and I would love to branch
out and do something totally different. Surprise them. Henry Winklerís
always known as Fonzie. As much as I love Greg Heffley, Iíd love to
branch out and do something else from that.
Though youíve been filming for the last couple of summers, what do you
like to do in your dog days of summer?
Just hanging out with
people and staying active. I feel like video games are somewhat a waste
of time. I mean yes, I play video games, but I want to make memories
that Iíll have for a lifetime. Thatís something I have learned from the
Wimpy movies. Iím trying to think of the future now. Eat
healthy and do everything I can to make my future bright. Stay social,
make lots of friends and stay positive. I got the role as Greg by
always staying positive and sticking with it.
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