Charlie McDermott On Hot Tub Time Machine and Playing The Middle's Rebellious Teen
At 19-years-old, Charlie McDermott is coming into his own as the hormone-fueled teenager who terrorizes the Heck household on ABC's freshman series The Middle. As the show's first season progresses, McDermott's character Axl has been upgraded from the belching, semi-nude teen preying on his insecure sister and his blue-collar parents (played by Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn) in the background to an adolescent carrying his own fleshed-out story lines each week. When he is not working on the series, the eastern-Pennsylvania native juggles a handful of film projects including last year's Oscar-nominated Frozen River and March's Hot Tub Time Machine.
Movieline recently caught up with The Middle actor to discuss the benefits of working on a network show, how he was discovered at a 4,000 person casting call, and which role he agreed to brave the woods for.
What kind of character do you play in Hot Tub Time Machine?
I play a snow patrol officer in the 80s. When the group goes back in time, I'm one of their nemeses who keeps them stuck in the past.
Did you have a lot of scenes with John Cusack or Chevy Chase?
I was with John, Rob [Corddry], Craig [Robinson] and Clark [Duke] for most of my scenes and Sebastian Stan plays the other snow patrol officer. Everyone was so nice and relaxed. I didn't get to meet Chevy Chase unfortunately. His story was separate from mine.
In The Middle you play the rebellious teenage son -- well, as rebellious as you can be on a network show airing at 8:30. Are some of your characters' tendencies and bad attitude reminiscent of your own experience as a sixteen-year-old?
Not really. When I was that age, I had just moved out to Los Angeles. I was trying to act so I was very focused and not like that at all. If I hadn't gotten into acting at such a young age, I wouldn't be surprised if I turned out like that.
I read that you just finished your favorite episode of the season. I know you can't reveal plot particulars but what can you say about it?
Well, I think it's the best episode so far. Sue [Eden Sher] and Brick [Atticus Shaffer] have a really funny storyline and my character, Axl, has a really great storyline too. It was the first script I read this year where I was laughing out loud on every single page. Everyone loved it at the table read and I think the whole cast is excited about it. It's episode number 15 [Episode 14 airs next week on January 27].
You got into acting through an open casting call for M. Night Shyamalan's The Village, right?
Yes. I had always wanted to act since I was about five but I never actually had a way of doing it until we found out about the casting call. M. Night Shyamalan shoots all of his movies right around where I lived in Pennsylvania -- I live in Burbank mostly now. But my dad just happened to see this four-inch-by-four-inch ad in the newspaper for an open casting call for extras. My grandfather took me at six in the morning and I was number 32 in line out of 4,000 people. I became an extra and then somehow I ended up auditioning for a small part. They gave me lines and that just opened up a lot of doors.
After that, my parents realized that I actually had a shot at it and we made the most of every opportunity. I started going to New York a lot for a couple of years and then I started losing out on a lot of roles in L.A. because they were mostly hiring locals. That's when my parents and my agent thought that it was a good idea to move to L.A. That was three years ago.
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