Talking THE MIDDLE with Charlie McDermott and Eden Sher

You’ve heard me talk a million times about how much I love THE MIDDLE, right?  This show, about a typical family in a typical midwestern town in a the typical “middle of nowhere,” is sometimes, dare I say it, funnier than certain other family comedies of the modern variety.

Teenagers Axl and Sue Heck are some of the best characters on TV and I had a chance to chat with their equally-awesome portrayors, Charlie McDermott and Eden Sher, about what’s coming up tonight, what they love about each other’s characters, and what they’d love to see in the future!

THE MIDDLE is one of the 2 or 3 shows I have to watch the night it is on. Love the show!
Charlie: Well thank you!
Eden: That’s awesome!

I love the characters, and I think that they are relateable and crazy enough that they make something worth talking about.  What drew you to the roles – why Axel? Why Sue?
Charlie:  At the time, we were both kind of not working too much.
Eden: Yeah!
Charlie: When I got the audition, the thing I loved about it, it was honestly a really fun character to play.  I can be wacky and crazy, and it’s kind of justified [laughs]. I have a lot of fun.
Eden: I think it’s funny when people ask why I chose the role.  In all honesty, I didn’t.  I was just reading for everything [laughs].  It’s truly a blessing when you get to audition for something that’s actually quality or really great writing.  It was kind of cool that this just happened to be like any other audition that I did at that time during pilot season.  This one just happened to be really fun, like Charlie said.

I can’t imagine anyone else playing these roles now that we’ve seen you guys play them!  This season, we’ve gotten to focus on Sue being an actual part of something!  Do you miss the flashes we get to see of Sue trying out for everything?
Eden:  You know, it’s different, I realize.  There are totally different flashbacks now.  Now, I get to, in my flashbacks, of doing something other than Cross Country, I get to wear something other than my Cross Country sweatshirt.  So that was the main difference between season 1 and season 2.  This season, I have a huge sweatshirt that I wear in every episode. Before, it was, one episode, I was in a bathing suit for the swimming team; one episode I was in gymnastics clothes.  One episode, I was in different clothes.  It’s a different type of excitement.

You have the giant sweatshirt and then Charlie gets to walk around in next to nothing all the time.
Charlie: We’re all extremes over here!  It’s all or nothing!

Tell me a little bit about tonight’s episode with the Foreign Exchange student coming to stay with the Hecks.
Charlie: Well, Patty’s character, Frankie, and the family are at church and she runs into Nancy Donahue and Nancy starts talking about how their family has taken in a foreign exchange student and it’s made the family better, more mature, so she thinks this will help the Heck family and ends up bring in a foreign exchange student from Japan named Takayuki and he turns out to be a complete dud.
Eden: [laughs] He’s just totally exclusive, with himself.
Charlie: Yeah
Eden: He does not involve himself with any of the activities that the family wants to do.  He’s kind of a…
Charlie: …curmudgeon
Eden: Yeah!  He’s a curmudgeon.
Charlie: He’s introverted.
Eden: He’s a little grumpy.
Charlie: He has undertones of grumpiness.
Eden: Yeah, definitely!

What are some of your favorite things, Charlie, about Eden’s character, and Eden, what do you love about Axel?
Eden: Well, I love, personally, the lines that Charlie gets to say.  If I had to switch actual lines with anyone on the show, for one, it would not be Frankie because she just has so many of them, but it would most definitely be Axel.  [to Charlie] And you speak at such a fast rate!  I don’t know how you do it!  I don’t know how you get those words out so clearly and so fast!  It’s like you’re a crazy, wacky, crazy in the best way.
Charlie: Oh thanks, I try hard [laughs] I guess Sue…
Eden: So many things to love about Sue, right?
Charlie:  Oh Sue.  Her optimism.  I feel like I have a real Axel relationship with Sue because every time we’re on screen, she kind of bugs me a bit, in a good way, in an endearing way, but it’s just like, Blah! [laughs]
Eden:   I totally agree, I think we have a very brotherly and sisterly relationship, well, on and off screen, but definitely on screen, it seems pretty authentic.  I can definitely see Axel and Sue really being siblings.  We get just enough amount of being peeved, and love.

I love the episode where Sue is falling for Axel’s best friend and he has no idea, and Axel realizes it, and protects Sue.  You do get the sense that, yeah, they’re peeved with each other, but they clearly take care of each other.
Eden: I like that, too, because there was a moment where he goes out the door, and it’s like “What are you talking about, you’re crazy Sue?” and then he saves her in the car, and it’s really sweet and sincere.

Why is now a great time to get involved with THE MIDDLE?
Charlie:  Hopefully, I think they’d enjoy it?  [laughs]  It’s also one of the few television shows right now that a whole family can watch and enjoy without having to worry about all of the other things on other TV shows that they don’t let their kids watch, or they don’t feel comfortable watching as a full family. I think it’s honestly a really great family show.
Eden:  It kind of shocks me how they can make it sincerely funny, and it’s not a very scandalous show.  We don’t have controversy with our topics on the episodes, but at least for me, I laugh out loud for a lot of the episodes.

Oh I completely agree with that. I like too, that there is no scandal, and that there are actual family stories that I could totally relate to. My mom would totally try to bring in a foreign exchange student to mature us as teenagers. Is it hard to keep a straight face while shooting?
Eden: For me, yeah, definitely.  Charlie just cracks me up sometimes [said with a bit of sarcasm].  That sounds a little bit like I was joking, but in all seriousness, he does [laughs].  When the camera, when it’s my coverage, and no one else is no camera but me, and he’s just like, standing behind the camera, making really hilarious faces at me, as Axel.
Charlie:  Yeah, it’s my goal in every scene to try and make Eden break. We had a guest star in last night, we’re doing a new episode where Axel ends up running a concession stand, and this woman came in [laughs].  She only had one line, but they did it in a series where you repeat the line over and over, yelling it in my face and I completely lost it.  I had to just stifle it the entire take.  That wasn’t the first time, but it was the biggest break I’ve had, I guess.
Eden: Yeah, I had a pretty big break. Ha, big break, or a big laughter outburst, actually the episode that just aired last week with Brad when he came to the door.  Oh my god, the first time that he did that take, and he goes “Hola”.  I was supposed to answer and be like, really concerned, but I just hysterically broke out in laughter.

Whenever that kid shows up, I laugh out loud.  What would you love to see for your characters as the season progresses?
Charlie:  Axel is starting to get more responsibility, which I’m starting to like.  They’ve been giving me some jobs, so that’d be kind of fun. I don’t know, the basketball stuff last year was kind of cool, so if that happens again, I wouldn’t be disappointed.
Eden: I would just like to see Sue continue with Cross Country, and not get kicked off. And maybe have a crush on another boy who is not Brad.