We all had those middle school woes before. You remember, that feeling of no longer being a child and you’re inevitably entering the rebellious stage of teenage-hood. James Paterson’s Middle School book series finally comes to life highlighting all of those tribulations through the eyes of Rafe Khatchadorian played by Griffin Gluck.
Rafe being a kid with a vast imagination begins to have issues with the authority figures in his new school. Transferring to a new school is hard enough; however, for our protagonist it is even harder when he is striped from the only thing that makes him Rafe his creativity. He soon becomes a rebel who arranges to break all of the rules proposed by an overbearing principal with the help of his partner in crime, Leo. Who can say no to a comedy that is part live action, part foolhardy animation filled with teenage adventures.
We sat down Griffin Gluck, who is known for being a series regular in Red Band Society, Back in The Game and Private Practice to talk more in depth about his current role. No stranger to the big screen he also gives us an update to other projects he has been working on.
How did you get involved with this movie, Middle School?
Well it’s actually kind of a long story confusing story. I auditioned for it a really long time actually, and I was really passionate about the role. It seemed really fun. I really wanted to do it, but I didn’t hear back from it after I auditioned for months. I went to the call back, so that was exciting, but I didn’t hear anything.
I went away to camp for a while, and while I was in camp I did not have any service for a month. My mom tried to get in contact with me but there was no service, so I actually got the role while I was in camp. It took them a while to review the take, and as soon as I came back I had had the role for about two weeks. I didn’t know it at all.
Were you scared that they were going to take it way cause you took so long to respond?
Oh yeah, I was frightened. As soon as I got service back, I checked my phone and I saw like two weeks ago a message from my mom saying, “You got it.” I just hadn’t replied, and there was nothing about it, so I didn’t know what was going on.
Well thank god it all worked out, that must’ve meant they really wanted you. You looked great in it so far from what I seen in the trailer. Could you tell us a little about your character?
Sure. Rafe Khatchadorian is my character. He’s a very artistic kind of guy. He doesn’t have many friends. He just moved to this new town and this new school, and I kind of have to get my act together so that I don’t get in trouble because I’m the new kid and I don’t really want any trouble, but my new principal is just making that really hard for me because he’s basically telling me that I’m a very creative kid, and creativity is not allowed at this school. He is basically telling me I can’t be me, and he starts putting all these rules and bans on creativity. Well, I’m not really enjoying that, so I kind of came back at him and spat the rules right back in his face. And that’s basically me.
Did you go to a strict middle school? How’s the comparison?
Oh I went to a very strict school middle school. There was a rule on everything. I don’t think we we could play tag in the playground. We weren’t allowed to play with marbles, like little marble games. We weren’t allowed to trade Pokémon cards because that was considered a form of gambling or something at our school.
So we had a lot of really weird strict rules. The only difference between me and Rafe is I was too shy to do anything, so I didn’t fight back. I kind of just put my cards and marbles away and sat there quietly.
If you could go back would you have said something or stood up for your right to play Pokémon?
Oh I definitely would’ve. I was sooo into Pokémon. I would’ve stood for my right so quickly, but I was a shy little kid so I didn’t.
But thank god now in 2016 you can have the app on your phone and you can catch them that way (laughs).
So your character also draws. Are you an artist or anything?
Well, I like to consider myself an artist, but I’m not very good. It took me about six hours to draw a dog for an art project the other day for school. It probably would’ve taken Rafe about 30 seconds. So I’m definitely not like a great artist but I do enjoy drawing and art.
How is it like working with Steve Carr?
Steve Carr is my favorite guy. He’s a great guy. He’s just all around nice and funny, and he’s a goofy guy. I think if there’s anyone who likes to kind of joke around who you’d to expect to be so serious, it’d be Steve. He’d be so focused on getting a job done. We’d be like 2 hours behind on schedule, and he’d still be cracking jokes. He got things done, but was just so easy going and chill about it, and he was just great. I loved him.
Do you have a favorite scene?
I think my favorite scene to film would definitely have been the… Actually hold on, I have to double check about that. There were a lot of great scenes. I think my favorite scene–okay here it is: Rob Riggle, who plays my step dad Bear in the movie, goes to try and pick me up from school, and he’s driving a stick shift which he doesn’t know how to drive. So the car is sputtering and freaking out, and he doesn’t want to stop it because he doesn’t want to put back into gear, so he’s just kind of wasting along (?) next to school, and I have to run the car down and jump in while it’s moving. That was definitely one of my favorite scenes to film.
You did that yourself? You didn’t have a stunt double?
I did that. Actually, what was really cool was for the first time, I don’t think I had a stunt double for Middle School. I think I did most the stunts myself, which is really fun because I’ve never done that before. They were generally pretty easy stunts: Driving in a car with a professional who was driving crazy, but they needed me in the shot, so I’d be in the car as he was running down trash cans or driving on the sidewalk; going down stairs in a golf cart, like a thirty set stair at full speed–that was fun too. I had a lot of fun doing my own stunts for the first time.
That sounds so fun. Did you have a favorite teacher growing up, and why why were they your favorite teacher?
Growing up, definitely Kate Edwards. She worked at Opus High School, which is where I go now. She’s no longer my teacher, sadly. But she was just a great teacher. She would encourage me to do my work, and if I fell behind on work because I was working, or just for any reason if I ever fell behind, she would be so easy going. She’d help me get back on track, and she’d encourage me. I’ve had some pretty bad teachers in the past–talking about the strict middle school I told you about. I’ve had some pretty bad teachers, and Kate basically is a saint compared to them. She is an angel sent from heaven compared to them.
I’m sure she would love to hear that. So you worked with Bryan Cranston & James Franco for your next film. How was filming that?
I worked with them. We actually finished filming. I filmed that literally about two weeks after I finished filming middle school. I have to say those are probably two of the best experiences in my life. Working with everyone in Atlanta, and working with Brian & James, and ___ in Los Angeles, my hometown, were probably some of the best experiences of my life.
You’ve done TV & film. Do you have a medium that you like best?
See, there are pro’s and con’s about both. TV shows you really get to know your cast. You get to know everyone in every department. You get a new script every week so your character’s always doing something different. You never know what you’re going to do which is really exciting, in my opinion, for TV. But movies are also really fun because you have one set script that you get to work on constantly as hard as you can, and you get to try and best yourself and do the top maximum that you can.
They’re two very different vibes. I don’t really know how to explain them, but they both have such great qualities about them. I don’t think I can choose a favorite. Recently I’ve been working a lot more on movies than I have on TV shows so I’m kind of leaning more towards movies, but I really do miss working on TV shows.
You’re very young in your career, so what do you see in your future? What do you hope for your future to be in? Do you want to stick with television or film? Is there anyone you really want to work with as you grow older?
I feel like I have a goal just to be the best I can. As for working with anyone in the future, I feel like I already worked with some greats like Bryan Cranston, Megan Mullally, James Franco and Lauren Graham.
I’ve worked with some great actors and actresses. I think Octavia Spencer was one of them. I worked with her on Red Band society. I think really anyone in this business is great to work with. I don’t think I have a set person. I mean, of course it’d be fun to work with let’s say Robert Downey Jr. or anyone of the Avengers. That would be really cool, but I’m happy with anything that comes my way.
Perfect movie for the family or someone who wants to stroll down memory lane to their awkward teenage years. Hits movie theaters October 7th.