I was very excited to get the opportunity to interview Zachary Gordon who is known to most audiences for his role as Greg Heffley in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies. With a Wimpy Kid sequel coming to theaters March 25, and a new Nickelodeon series, Bubble Guppies, Zach is definitely making a name for himself in the worlds of film and TV.
Bubble Guppies is a new CG- animated preschool series on Nickelodeon. On the show, Zachary voices the character Gil, whom he describes as “other than being a guppy, he’s adventurous, he likes to hang out with his guppy friends, and have a lot of fun.” Zach landed the role of Gil after a series of auditions in New York. “I remember the last audition they wanted me to sing and I got the role,” says Zach. “I love to sing. And I love Nickelodeon. I always wanted to do a project for Nickelodeon.”
Along with Zach’s character Gil, Bubble Guppies is populated with a collection of colorful characters. Each episode teaches accessible lessons at a preschool level. According to Zach, some of the primary lessons include “that you should be nice to people and they may repay you very nicely. And also that you should really share and help each other. And that you should also be considerate.” Bubble Guppies is definitely an upbeat and fun show for kids and even enjoyable for parents as well (read my full review of the show by clicking here.)
Being a huge fan of the Wimpy Kid movie and the book series written by Jeff Kinney, I had several questions for Mr. Gordon regarding his experiences working on the films and his thoughts about Greg Heffley. How do Gil and Greg differ? Zach says, “Well, Gil is extremely nice and Greg is a little bit manipulative. And Gil really helps people and he’s really young, while Greg is older and he doesn’t really help people. And Gil has blue hair and an awesome hairstyle.”
The Wimpy Kid movies have given Zach a lot of opportunities that he wouldn’t have had otherwise, and the role of Greg Heffley is one he is extremely proud of. Zach says that working on the films has been “really fun, a once in a lifetime experience, and all the cool people I got to meet is a once in a lifetime chance.” He enjoys playing Greg for a number of reasons, chief among them: “it’s challenging to play Greg because he’s really not like me in real life and I love a good challenge.”
If you’ve read the books or seen the film movie you know exactly what Zach is talking about. Greg is manipulative and is not very nice to people at times. But, Zach says, “in some ways Greg’s still likeable.” Personally, I see Greg Heffley as a middle school Larry David from HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. He does a lot of seemingly awful things, but you can’t help but root for him to get what he’s after in the end.
While filming a movie can be a lot of work, there’s plenty of time for crazy things to happen on the set. Many of those things come in the form of pranks that are instigated by Devon Bostick who plays Greg’s brother Rodrick in the movies. Zach tells of his first-hand experience: “on Wimpy Kid 2, Devon is like an older brother off-screen. One time what happened was Devon had a box of Oreos sent to the set, and then he said ‘Zach, the EPK (Electronic Press Kit) cameras are here to get some behind the scenes footage, and I know how much you like sugar so I’m going to have you dance – because I know you’re a good dancer – for this Oreo cookie.’ So instead I was like, No I’ll just take it. And I grabbed some Oreos and I ran outside, and the EPK cameras were following me and Devon was too. And took a bite of the Oreo and guess what it was? It was toothpaste! It was awful!”
Zach’s attempt to get Devon back didn’t go exactly as planned either. “I tried to get him back, and it backfired because I filled a water bottle with salt water – a lot of it – and I told the 1st AD that when Devon gets thirsty – because Devon had already pranked me so I had to think of something that Devon wouldn’t notice – so when Devon got thirsty, and he asks for water, the 1st AD would give it to him. So later Devon comes up to me and says, ‘Oh, my gosh. My water tastes salty.’ And then the 1st AD asked me if I wanted a water and I said sure, sure, yeah. And then I drank my water and it was filled with salt!” Zach hopes to think of a surefire prank to get Devon back while they film the third Wimpy Kid movie.
If you’ve read the book or seen the first movie, or the trailer for the sequel, you know that a lot of zany stuff happens to Greg. Zach told me about two scenes – one from each movie – that he really enjoyed filming. In the first film he said, “if I had to pick a scene it would probably the scene where Halloween night Rowley (Robert Capron) and I are out walking and we get sprayed by the fire extinguisher.”
And in the upcoming movie, “there were tons of fun scenes to film in the second one, but one of them would probably be a scene where we’re in a roller rink, and I’m on roller skates. And Rodrick did something to me and I get really mad at him, and what I don’t know is that he’s standing in front of a little girl’s birthday cake. I forget I’m on roller skates and I lunge at him, and he moves, and land headfirst in this huge birthday cake! And what was really bad about that scene was that the cake hadn’t been refrigerated in like three days, and I was really looking forward to eating it.”
Along with Bubble Guppies and Wimpy Kid, Zach can be heard as the voice of Papi Jr. in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 on DVD and Blu-ray now. He also has some other projects in the works, but being a true professional he is unable to discuss them at this time.
What is Zach’s favorite TV show and his favorite movies? He told me, “my favorite TV show would probably be SpongeBob SquarePants. And one of my favorite movies is Titanic. And Secretariat. And I did like Tron.” Along with movies and TV, Zach enjoys a variety of other activities, which include: “on set I had to learn how to roller skate and I’m continuing with that, which is fun. And I’m on a basketball team, and I love basketball. And I play on the computer, and I like to hang out with friends.”
For young people who want to act, Zachary delivers this advice: “There’s a lot of rejection in this business, and no matter what people say, after every audition just forget about it and move on to the next one. Never give up and keep on trying. Only care about what you think of yourself.” His message for his fans? “No matter what you do in life just keep on trying and never give up. And follow your dream.”
Thanks for sitting down with us, Zach!
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules opens March 25, 2011 in theaters, and Zach wants you to know “The second one is better, I’d have to say. It’s hilarious!”
Bubble Guppies airs weekdays on Nickelodeon at 11am (ET/PT). Check local listings.