Talking THE MIDDLE with Atticus Shaffer (whisper)…Atticus Shaffer
I have been trumpeting the praises of THE MIDDLE since day one, and it feels like the world is finally listening to me, as the show has solidified itself as a hit on Wednesday nights on ABC (were you one of the over 10 million people watching?). What’s so great about the show is that this is a family you can relate to and root for, as they go through things that we’ve all been through – a broken dishwasher, an oven that doesn’t work, kids that pick on each other incessantly, but who really are the best of friends (that last one right there? Describes me, D, and Brains to a T….).
No one knows more about how great this show is than series star Atticus Shaffer, who spent some time with us discussing what’s coming up in tonight’s episode, why this show is so good, and how much like Brick (the character he plays) he actually is – spoiler alert, pretty much A) exactly the same and B) amazing –
I’m so excited to talk to you, you have no idea. THE MIDDLE has to be one of my favorite shows on TV.
It’s doing so well in the ratings; I’m so glad it’s being recognized and noticed by everybody – I’ve been talking about it since it premiered, at least once a day ha!
Ha ha definitely!
What can you tease for us about what we’re going to see in tonight’s episode?
Well, definitely, I mean, definitely, of course, the show, it sometimes will have the expected things, and will have the definitely UNexpected things [laughs]. Without giving away too much, of course, next week’s episode is kind of one of those Brick and Sue episodes, where they are interacting with their Aunt Edie, and Aunt Edie wants to give them a few things of hers. It’s kind of them being with those types of things, and I don’t know what else to say without giving it away. Being with those types of things and the things that Brick and Sue would do when they would get a hold of those types of items [laughs].
Even without giving anything away, saying, it’s going to be a Brick and Sue episode, right off the bat, the way the two of them are together, it’s going to be a classic THE MIDDLE episode.
What I love about the cast is that the way that you all pair up, with this past week spending time with Mike and Sue – you all play off each other so well, no matter how you’re paired, or how you’re grouped. Is that chemistry off screen, too? Are you bonded as an off screen family?
I don’t want to see we hang out, we honestly don’t do that, but we are with each other on set, and we have been for the last three years now. When we’re on set, you do have a lot of time, where you do have a lot of time when you aren’t actually on screen. There is a lot of sit and wait on set, so we each naturally start talking with each other. We do bond with each other. The only bad thing for me, and it’s not really that bad, is that I do have school when I’m on set, so I can’t really be with them as much as I’d like to. We definitely have the bond on set. We always laugh. If we make a mistake, it’s not just a “oh you made a mistake,” it’s more, find a way to make it funny.
Is there someone that breaks during a scene more than anyone else?
Oh that would have to be Eden [laughs]! She’s always laughing, and definitely, if anything happens, she’ll just start busting up [laughs].
I’ve talked to the cast now, and everyone is so funny, even without trying, it seems like it would be a funny place to work.
Why do you think that viewers are relating to this show? What is it about THE MIDDLE that is bringing people in?
In my opinion, I think the sense of realness to it. A lot of times before, you have kind of very much unreal situations. Not like MIDDLE unreal. Just very unreal, it’s a family that’s living in upscale New York. They really have nothing to do with the job. You just know that the parents have a job, and they’re magically making money from somewhere. There are certain shows like that, and for once, it’s about a small, kind of, I don’t want to say low class, but it’s a small town. It’s more about the people. More about them trying to solve every day life types of things. What would happen if they were tight on money, and the dryer broke down, or the dishwasher exploded [laughs]. They are able to take those situations and make them funny.
Do you have a favorite episode or a favorite scene?
I don’t have one particular favorite episode, but if I were to have one, it is kind of a triple tie between “The Bridge” – the one where Brick has to cross the bridge. I had a similar fear to that when I was a lot younger, to tunnels. And what happened, there was this one time, we were going on a family vacation, and we had to go through a mile long tunnel, there was no way around it. And I had toughen up, well not really toughen up, but sum up my courage, and be able to go through. The minute I went in, I opened up my eyes, and it was like “oh, this isn’t so bad!” [laughs] Another favorite episode would definitely have to be “The Errand Boy” because that was such a crazy episode, and I loved to film it. It was so much fun. And I definitely have to say that I really, really, really loved working with Betty White in the first season finale.
How much of you is in Brick, and how much of Brick is in Atticus?
Everything. Absolutely everything. Really, I’m not even acting most of the time [laughs]! No, but I love to be Brick. I love playing him. We are so alike. I love to read. Really, the only thing that’s different between us, is that 1, I do talk to myself, just not in a whisper. And I’m not as in to Fonts.
He does love a good font.
Yes, he does!
Has the whisper talking every carried over into everyday life for you?
You know what, honestly, that is the 1 thing that I really don’t carry off set. When I whisper, I know I’m very much in the Brick side of me, and when I’m not whispering, I know that I’m in the Atticus side of me, so I really don’t carry it off set, but I have caught myself several times doing that. I don’t where it was, we were just sitting having dinner, and I said something, and it was based off a line in the show where I whispered, and so I whispered, and then suddenly, I catch myself, and I covered up my mouth, like “did that really just happen?” [laughs]