Freddie Prinze Jr.: The Artist Known as Prinze

Q: As you were hitting him, were you even aware of what you were doing?

A: I knew exactly what I was doing. I kept hitting that kid until his face wasn't hard any more. I didn't want to stop beating him until he cried.

Q: Did he?

A: Yeah. That's when I stopped. I stood up and then I started crying because I was so upset. And then I ran. I've been in very few fights since then. I really don't like hurting people, I like making people feel good.

Q: After you beat up the bully, did you become something of a superhero at school?

A: Yeah. High school's like another planet. For two weeks I was the flavor of the month.

Q: You mean you became like your popular She's All That character and you hated it?

A: Well, popular, but not in a good way. I don't know how to explain it, but I skipped school for a week. Then that faded away when somebody else got beat up.

Q: When did you get into the martial arts?

A: When I was younger. Somebody wrote that somewhere...

Q: It's part of your press kit. Your publicists wrote it!

A: Yeah, and I keep telling them it shouldn't be in there, I did karate for eight years and jujitsu for one, but I'm by no means a martial artist. They write that in there hoping I get more jobs, action movies. My god-father, Bob Wall, was in a couple of Bruce Lee movies and he trained Bruce Lee when he came to America.

Q: How did Bob Wall become your godfather?

A: He was my father's friend. He taught my father karate.

Q: Did he tell you things about your dad?

A: Yeah, he told me a bunch of stories. My old man loved boxing and he once went over to Muhammad Ali's house. They would always mess around, and my dad threw a right hook and hit Ali in the nose and knocked him over his couch. His nose was bleeding. My dad ran to the bathroom and got a towel and wiped the blood off Ali's face and then he left. He didn't call him for two weeks because he was afraid Ali was going to kick his ass. But he framed the towel. My mom still has it.

Q: Have you ever done an interview where your father wasn't mentioned?

A: No. I don't think I ever will.

Q: Would it have been easier for you to have changed your name?

A: No, that wasn't an option. That's the name my father gave me.

Q: You used to memorize his record album comedy routines, didn't you?

A: Yeah, I know them by heart.

Q: Were you identifying with your father through this?

A: It was just an attempt. A failed one. When everyone knows your father but you, you get desperate for ways to know him.

Q: What do you think of this statement "Hollywood is one big whore. It breeds decadence."

A: Nah. People do shit to themselves.

Q: Here's another "Hollywood burns you out after a while if you let it. You get placed in a certain box, you get a certain image and then you can never get out"

A: I don't buy that either.

Q: Your father said both of those.

A: I don't believe either one. Both of those sound a little cynical. I'm not burned out.

Q: What made you decide to leave Albuquerque where you grew up and come to LA.?

A: One of my best friends, Berto, died our senior year in a motorcycle accident. He was the sweetest guy. It messed everybody up. At first I denied it--my mom told me and I kept saying, "You're lying, you're lying!" And I ran out of the house and my buddy Conrad chased me down and I fell on the ground and was crying so much. After the funeral I went to his grave and sat there for 30 minutes and just bawled. It was just too early for him. It made me feel old, man. I just wanted to get out of Albuquerque.

Q: Did you have any desire to go to college at all?

A: No. I didn't know what I wanted to do. My friend Conrad would ask what I wanted to do with my life and I said I didn't know. He asked me about my dreams. I said I make shit up, dream about being a superhero. He said, "Go act." So I packed up and drove to LA.

Q: What happened when you got here?

A: I had my Uncle Ron, who was my father's manager and a father figure for me since I was 12. I got with my manager; Rick, and he helped me find an acting class. Ron and Rick made me feel safe.

Q: How did you feel about acting class?

A: I was terrified. The first time I went to the group I started crying. We were doing this thing called repetition, where you repeat everything you say. It teaches you listening. And I just started bawling while I was saying the same thing, but I couldn't quit doing the exercise. I quit one thing--tennis when I was 13--and I promised I'd never quit again. So I was up there, breaking down more and more until I was all cried out. Then the teacher said, "Very good. Listening and answering, you just did it very well." I was wasted. From that day forward I started learning.

Q: Did you meet any girls?

A: No. I spent all of my time by myself just working.

Q: This is usually high-testosterone time for young men. You once said that if you could do high school again you'd take hack your virginity. Why?

A: Yeah. I was 17. It was in the back of my Jeep. The most non-romantic, non-special type place. I only did it because everybody I knew had already done it. Now granted, they were all probably lying, but I felt so inadequate. I went out with this girl with the sole intent of losing my virginity. I would have liked to have lost it in a more special way, because the way I did it was lame.

Q: Was it over so fast you don't quite remember it?

A: It was literally two seconds. Oh my God! There we go. That was it. It was sad.

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