Who hasn’t seen some “dog days” in life where the only thing that seems fair is to be alone and away from everybody and everything? Well, here, we get an inside peak into the life of Zach Gordon and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.
Please tell us where you’re from and what inspired you to pursue a career in acting?
I am from California. When I was about 3 years old, people would walk up to my mom and I in the grocery store and say that I should be in commercials or on TV. So I begged my mom to let me do it and she said I had to learn how to read first and then maybe I could go to an acting class. She figured it would all blow over, like it does with most kids, but when I was about 6 or 7 I reminded my mom that I did know how to read and I can finally become an actor. So she agreed to let me go to a small theatre class. My teacher submitted me to an audition and eventually I was called in but I didn’t get the role; instead they wrote a part in the movie for me and that’s where it all began. The movie was called, BECAUSE I SAID SO, but my scene wound up being cut out. That’s something you have to be prepared for in the movie business.
You’re the lead actor in DIARY OF A WIMPY KID. Tell us about how you booked that role?
Before I ever heard about the audition, I had already read the books and informed my mom that I wanted to make a movie about it. About four months later my agent called and said there was this pretty awesome role for me and the characters name is Greg Heffley. She said it was going to be a fun audition. I was a little bummed because I wanted to make my own movie about it. [laughs] No, it was really exciting for me because I had the opportunity to actually get the role of Greg. The audition process took over 9 months. I slept with the books under my pillow and every day I would ask my mom if she had heard anything. They auditioned thousands of kids and I went in to read for the role over 8 times. It was a really long audition process. I would hope every night that I would get the role because it was my dream role.
For those who haven’t read the books, what can we expect from the new movie, Dog Days?
What you can expect is an awesome movie that is very funny. The movie is about Greg and his father Frank(played by Steve Zahn) who don’t bond really well in the beginning, but Greg’s mom, Susan (played by Rachael Harris), really wants them to connect because they don’t have that normal father-son relationship. Frank is really into the outdoorsy stuff like fishing, hiking and sports, but since it’s summer vacation, Greg just wants to it back and relax, play video games and eat snacks. [laughs]
Without giving away too much, because I want you to go see it [laughs], Susan finally steps in and tries to make Frank and Greg bond. You’ll enjoy it I’m sure!
Speaking of video games, what’s your favorite game to play?
I play a lot of video games. Devon Bostick (who plays Rodrick), Robert Capron (who plays Rowley), Grayson Russell (who plays Fregley), and Steve Zahn (who plays my dad, Frank) we all play this game called Black Ops. During our breaks on set, all of us guys would play games like these, together. We really did bond like family.
How many hours a day do you typically put in on a movie like this?
Because I’m in every single scene in the movie, I had to stay 10 1/2 hours every day. I’d get up at 6am every morning, shower, then go to set. I’d have to literally eat my breakfast in the hair and makeup trailer because I didn’t have a bunch of time to eat before they needed me on set. Eventually, when I got to set, I would be filming for a bit and then they would break for 5 to 10 minutes to set up another scene. Then I would go to school for 3 hours Monday-Friday, and 5 hours on Saturday, and then I’d go back to the set before lunch and finish the filming for the day. It’s a lot of work but it really is worth it in the end.
You have also done a ton of voice over work, including Bubble Guppies, Madagascar 2, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 and Ni Hao Kai Lan. What’s it like to do voiceover work versus on camera?
There’s a pretty big difference between the two, but they are both about acting. When you’re working with a director on a film like DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, you basically have one-on-one time with him to talk through the scenes. Then there’s a bunch of camera’s there and you have to continuously go through makeup and hair and wardrobe. But with voiceover, I can just roll out of bed and I don’t have to go through all those steps that I mentioned earlier. Instead, I have to talk to the director or producers through a glass wall in a recording studio. I still act out the scene as I go through my lines because it helps me get into character and do all of the energy that the character is exerting. You still have to be energetic vocally even though you’re not being filmed. I personally find that voiceover is a little more difficult because you really have to pull off all the reactions and emotions that the character is going through without the audience seeing you physically on-screen. They’re just seeing this cartoon character. Even though it’s challenging, it’s still really cool.
What words of wisdom can you give to fellow actors out there who are working hard, training and going out on auditions but not booking anything?
Personally for me when I first started in the acting world there was a lot of rejection. To be an actor, you have to get used to rejection. You have to be prepared for anything, especially during the audition process. Don’t ever give up and don’t let anything change the way you think about acting. If you’re passionate about something, never let it go and never give up on your dream. You have to move on after every audition and don’t think about it. If it happens, it happens; if it doesn’t, oh well. Maybe something will happen for you in the future; you just have to always stay positive.
Published: I Am Entertainment Magazine – Kids & Teens, MAY/JUNE 2012 – Volume 3, Issue 17