Diary of a Wimpy Kid has gone on to rack up over $45 million dollars since its release thanks in big part to not only the bestselling book series but also its director, Thor Freudenthal. I had the opportunity to ask Freudenthal about the film success, the process of filmmaking and his hopes for a sequel.
How excited are you about the success of the film?
I'm thrilled at the success of the film, as I don't take any success for granted. I'm glad that audiences are getting on board with a fairly flawed but realistic protagonist. It's nice to know that people are going out to see an unusual family film, and I love that kids can recognize themselves in Greg.
Why did you decide to direct this project?
I just really loved the source material. Greg Heffley has a very original and funny voice, he feels exactly the way kids of that age feel. Also, the format of the books intrigued me. They feel as if created by a middle schooler. And as a filmmaker it was a mouth-watering prospect to create a movie that would feel like sprung from Greg's brain. It gave me the license to go beyond your average kids-movie.
Why did you decide to cast the film with those particular actors?
Jeff Kinney's characters are so rich and well rounded. They have such specific outlooks on the world, which made some of the casting fairly easy. Robert Capron who plays Rowley Jefferson was a fast choice because he embodied everything that Rowley was. Robert enjoys whatever life has in store for him with a very pure energy - that's Rowley! Grayson Russell embodied Fregley's uninhibited zaniness. Lane McNeil was perfect as Greg's ultra-driven female nemesis. But Greg Heffley himself was more difficult to cast. The character is awkward, insecure, lazy and selfish. It took us 5 months to find an actor who could make that relatable and likable. Zachary Gordon makes it feel like Greg's cockiness stems from a deep sense of wanting to belong - which everyone can relate to.
Will you be directing any sequels to the film?
I don't know. A sequel could be an enticing prospect but we'll all have to wait and see what happens with the movie in the coming weeks.
What's your next project?
I am far ahead on a comic book adaptation called Agnes Quill, which is set up at Paramount with Scott Aversano producing. I am also developing a young adult novel called Measle and the Wrathmonk for Robert Zemeckis. And there are other interesting projects lurking in the wings. We will see what comes to fruition first.