This past weekend the new comedy film Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life held a special red carpet screening.
The film follows Rafe Khatchadorian, played by Griffin Gluck, a young boy with a big imagination and a problem with authority. His world gets turned upside down when he transfers to a middle school where all the students are expected to follow the rules (I know crazy right?). With the help of his new friend Leo, played by Thomas Barbusca, Rafe creates schemes to drive his evil principal crazy all while trying to impress a girl and fight off bullies.
We got the chance to talk to the film’s star Griffin Gluck and some of the cast about how they prepared for their role, their favorite scenes to shoot, what they want people to learn from the film and much more!
So, big star, how does it feel taking the lead in this movie?
Griffin Gluck: Well, it was the first time I’ve ever been the lead role…number one in the call sheet which was very exciting for me. It was a great experience over all. I don’t really know how to explain. It was different in any way, but it felt so much cooler.
Tell me about your audition and when you found out you were casted for the lead role?
Griffin Gluck: I auditioned for it, I went to a call back, then I went to summer camp for a month and I didn’t hear from them for like a while. At summer camp, I had no service; I didn’t have my phone on me. My mom sent me a letter and some how got to me and I found out that I got the role in a letter.
Griffin Gluck: So that was really exciting for me. I came back like a week early. We celebrated and had a fun time. I mean, my parents knew for like two weeks before I knew.
How was working with Steve Carr?
Griffin Gluck: Steve Carr is a great guy. Love Steve. He was here tonight. I hadn’t seen him for like a long time—since we filmed. He was a really great director. He gave me so much insight. He was very nice. He is a great guy.
How did you prepare for this role? Did you read the books?
Griffin Gluck: I did. I read the books back when I was in middle school. I re-read them when I got the role. I think re-reading them helped me. We had James Patterson, the writer, working with us on set and Steve. So having James’ insight on the character and Steve’s support and also his direction really helped me kind of blend the character together.
Can you relate to your character at all?
Griffin Gluck: I can relate to him that middle school sucked. I don’t know if I can relate to him to the point where I destroyed my middle school with a bunch of rule breaking pranks. But him and I, I’d like to say that we are both artistic; I’m of course not as artistic as him but I like to think that we are both similar in that way.
How old are you know?
Griffin Gluck: I’m sixteen.
What was the biggest challenge while shooting? Was there a specific scene?
Griffin Gluck: The emotional scenes were tough. I did an emotional scene with my sister and Lauren, so those two were tough for me. They were great and really supportive so we got through them easily.
And favorite scene?
Griffin Gluck: I don’t know if it’s in the cut but we did a lot of stunts with the golf cart, where I rode down stairs, weaved in and out of trees and stuff, so that was really fun for me. Sadly, it didn’t make the cut I don’t think.
Anything you want people to take away from this movie? Any theme?
Griffin Gluck: I think if you really look at it the theme is that you have to express yourself in any way possible. If you express yourself, then people are going to follow along. Even if you are getting bullied, as long as you are happy with yourself and comfortable in your own skin, then you will be fine.
How excited are you to be here right now?
Thomas Barbusca: I’m very excited. I’m super pumped.
This is awesome. Tell me a little bit about your role.
Thomas Barbusca: Well, I play Leo. I’m Rafe’s best friend. I’m kind of like the devil on his shoulder/ angel on his shoulder. I’m rebellious. Good kid at heart.
So how was it playing in a movie where you work with actors of all different ages?
Thomas Barbusca: We were just a bunch of cool people. Alexa Nisenson , she plays Rafe’s little sister, she’s very cool. She is like a little sister to us now. Lauren Graham is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Same with Rob Riggle, he is a super funny guy. Griffin Gluck is one of my best friends now. Everybody in the movie is just kind of family now.
Tell me about a favorite scene you had to shoot?
Thomas Barbusca: Okay, there are two favorite scenes and they are in the trailer, so I’m not technically spoiling anything. One, we put post it notes all over principal Dwight’s office. There was another scene where we put pink paint in principal dwights hat.
Breaking the rules. Are you rule breaker?
Thomas Barbusca: No, I try to be good.
So you had to mean up, learn how to be bad?
Thomas Barbusca: Yeah, I had to get on the rebellious side.
What do you feel was the biggest challenge?
Thomas Barbusca: The biggest challenge was probably getting the part. It was very, very hard. It is a big process with auditioning. Me and Griffin had great chemistry in the movie, so it was fun…it was fun.
It is so exciting to be here right now. How excited are you?
Jessi Goei: It is, I’m so excited! I can’t wait to see it!
How does it feel to be casted for a role? How was that experience for you?
Jessi Goei: Well when I auditioned for it, I was like I don’t know, it could go either way. I’m obviously not in middle school. The biggest was like, could I pull this off? I got it and I was super excited. Finding out who was in it, I was so excited to be working with this amazing cast and I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet that like the movie is coming out.
Tell me a little bit about your role in this movie?
Jessi Goei: I play Bella. She becomes friends with Rafe. She is in his homeroom class. She is not the most talkative person. She’ll be on her phone a lot, so the teacher will get mad at her sometimes. But she does become friends with this whole group of people. And I think that this is something you can really learn from in middle school; how sometimes you want to be in your shell and be in the corner off to the side but it really has its advantages when you go out and you are friends with other people.
What do you hope people take away from this movie?
Jessi Goei: That middle school is just a little small part in your lives that could be the worst times of your life but that there are many more great years to come.
What was your favorite scene to shoot? A scene was very memorable to you.
Jessi Goei: So we did this one scene where we are just talking in the hallways. You know, you are with your friends and the sprinklers come on.
Oh my gosh!
Jessi Goei: And you’re soaked. But then, the music starts playing and we are all dancing, so it turned out to be like well you’re getting wet but it became fun.
So working with the cast, you all become a huge family. Tell me a little bit about the interaction between the different actors that you worked with and how you guys bonded in order to pull this off.
Jessi Goei: Well we spent a lot of time together, and so whenever we had a little bit of down time we played football in the hallways.
I: Really?! Okay.
Jessi Goei: And so, you know, you form this connection that you are not having this pressure of you of having to deliver and its really that you are just being kids. And then you have the times when you are in the school room having to do your school work and the teacher is like “Okay guys, stop messing around.” So there are two different levels that we got to expect.
How excited are you to be here right now?
Alexa Nisenson: I’m so excited. I feel like we’ve been waiting for so long. But now that its here, I feel like the time is flowing by so quickly.
Is this your first big role?
Alexa Nisenson: Yes.
Tell me a little bit about your character.
Alexa Nisenson: Well my character is Gerogia Khatchadorian, the little sister of Rafe Khatchadorian. Georgia is spunky; she is a force of nature. She is outgoing but she’s got a sweet side and she gets on her brothers nerves. She can mess with her family but no one else can. You can see that they are really protective of each other, which is one of my favorite dynamics of playing Georgia.
How was your audition? Were you surprised that you got this role?
Alexa Nisenson: I was living in Atlanta at the time. I sent in an audition tape of me doing the script. Funny enough, I didn’t think my audition tape was my best. Then we got the call that I had a callback. I met them in person; I met Steve, the director and some of the other producers. I thought I did a great job, but I wasn’t sure if it was right but then I got the call. I was just so excited to start; I couldn’t believe I was working with such amazing people.
How long were you guys shooting for?
Alexa Nisenson: I would say probably six months at the most. It was really short, but it kept getting pushed back a little bit because we had breaks and stuff.
So, how old are you?
Alexa Nisenson: I’m ten.
You’re ten, okay. And I believe you are also in another movie coming out, correct?
Alexa Nisenson: Yeah, I have another movie coming out on Feb 17th.
Very different roles, I’m assuming
Alexa Nisenson: Oh yes, it is a Rated R comedy with Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell…a lot of amazing people. I’m so excited.
Could you tell me about a favorite scene you had to shoot as well as the biggest challenge you had?
Alexa Nisenson: Oh, that is a good question. So I don’t want to give too much away, but my favorite scene to film was probably some of the scenes with Rob Riggle. Rob, who plays Carl aka Bear—we call him Bear in the film—is like the most hilarious guy even off camera. There are some scenes with me, Griffin, and Rob, which were just so amazing to film. The one that challenged me the most was a really emotional scene with me and Griffin because I think we both just had to really get to that place of really just feeling it. It was really challenging because, I don’t know why, there was something about it that was so much fun, and.I don’t know, I think that was the most challenging for me.