2012 Summer Movie Guide

Summer’s Dog Days

TFK chats about summer with Zachary Gordon, star of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

August 03, 2012
DIYAH PERA

Best friends Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) and Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron) experience an amusement park thrill ride on summer vacation in the latest film in the Wimpy Kid series.

Actor Zachary Gordon, 14, is back as middle-schooler Greg Heffley in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, which hits theaters August 3. It’s the third film based on Jeff Kinney’s hit series, combining parts of the books The Last Straw and Dog Days. This time, Greg is determined to sleep in and play video games during his entire summer vacation. But his parents have other plans for him, like spending bonding time with his father Frank (played by Steve Zahn) during a camping trip that goes horribly wrong. Meanwhile, Greg and his friend’s summer adventures at the local pool, country club and amusement park also lead to hilarious moments. Recently, TFK talked to Zachary about the movie, summer vacation and pranks on the set.

TFK:

I heard your leg was in a cast recently. What happened?

ZACHARY:

Well, I broke my leg about three months ago. Thankfully, I got my cast off, but I have to wear a boot for a bit to get my leg back in shape. For the first month and a half, I had to wear this really long cast, and it was really uncomfortable. It was the first time I had ever broken anything. And then for the month and a half after that I had a short leg cast, which was great because I could somewhat walk.

TFK:

This is your third time playing Greg. Is there anything you like to do during your first day on set to get back into character?

ZACHARY:

Whenever I go back—we film the Wimpy Kid movies in Vancouver—it’s really like a family reunion because you see the whole cast again. It’s almost like I immediately get back into character. I did read the book a couple of times—Dog Days—before we started filming the third movie to get the gist of it, and I talked with my other costars. It’s kind of sad that this might be the last one. But it was really cool because I got into character almost right away.

In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Greg reluctantly goes on a camping trip to bond with his dad Frank (Steve Zahn), along with Rowley and Troop Master Barrett (Frank C. Turner).

DIYAH PERA
In Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Greg reluctantly goes on a camping trip to bond with his dad Frank (Steve Zahn), along with Rowley and Troop Master Barrett (Frank C. Turner).

TFK:

In the movie, Greg and Rowley are getting ready for summer vacation, and we all know how things usually go for Greg. So what kinds of mishaps can fans look forward to in this movie?

ZACHARY:

Well, Dog Days is based in the summer, so Greg’s on summer vacation. What he thinks it’s going to be is playing video games every day, sleeping in, eating junk food and everything that doesn’t involve school. He just wants to be left alone. So obviously, his mom has a totally different plan. She wants him to bond with his father, Frank. Of course, Frank and Greg aren’t totally excited about that, especially Greg, but it’s basically just about how Greg and his dad try to bond throughout the summer. They really do have a lot of differences, and they have a lot of similarities too. It’s a really nice, heart-warming story about Greg’s summer. I think in the end he does enjoy his time with his dad.

TFK:

Greg calls this his worse summer ever. Did you ever have a summer where nothing went as planned?

ZACHARY:

Somewhat this summer (after breaking my leg). The boot really limits me being able to play sports, and I love sport, basketball especially. It’s just awful. I want to get my leg back into shape so I can play sports.

TFK:

So what is your idea of the perfect summer?

ZACHARY:

You know, that’s where Greg and I have a bit of a similarity. I love video games, like Greg does. Obviously, I love sports and basketball—that’s one thing I would put in an ideal summer. Hanging out with your family is really nice, hanging out with friends and just having a good time and enjoying it while it lasts because summer vacation really goes by fast.

TFK:

As Greg, you get to do some pretty comical scenes. What was your favorite to film?

ZACHARY:

Most of the scenes were my favorite to film, but one in particular is (when) Greg and Rowley go to the boardwalk. When we filmed it in Vancouver, we actually filmed at this theme park called Playland. Greg and Rowley (played by Robert Capron) go on this ride called the Cranium Shaker. We actually had to ride it for the movie, just to make it really realistic, and I’m a big fan of amusement park rides. I was pumped for it, but I was nervous at the same time because I was anxious to get done with it. Hopefully, I get to film movies where I get to go on roller coasters. It was definitely a great experience.

TFK:

What were some of the best on-set pranks this time around?

ZACHARY:

One thing that happened on set—I think this may be one of the ultimate pranks—basically involves almost the whole cast and (crew). Payton List, who plays Holly Hills, and I were talking to our moms at the end of the day. We were filming the pool scene. My mom and Peyton’s mom said, “Hey guys, see this Tootsie Roll? Throw it in the pool, and Peyton, you should walk up to the producer and say. ‘Look, I think someone pooped in the pool.’” When I was getting back into my regular street clothes, Peyton was doing this and telling the producer. The next day we were going to film more scenes in the pool, and I (had said) I didn’t want to film in the pool because it was a kiddie pool and, supposedly, someone went to the bathroom in it earlier that day. So the producer, Brad (Simpson), was like, “Don’t tell Zach, whatever you do. He’s going to freak out.”

Eventually, I came back and was like, “Hey what’s going on?” and they’re like, “Oh nothing.” Peyton dives in the pool and raises (the Tootsie Roll) up in the air, and everyone stopped. Everyone was in shock that she actually did that, and we were just laughing like crazy because we totally pranked everyone.

Dog Days is the third Wimpy Kid movie starring actor Zachary Gordon, 14. The movies are based on the best-selling book series by Jeff Kinney.

DAVID LIVINGSTON—GETTY IMAGES
Dog Days is the third Wimpy Kid movie starring actor Zachary Gordon, 14. The movies are based on the best-selling book series by Jeff Kinney.

TFK:

In the books, Greg is always in middle school. But obviously, you are growing up in real life. Do you think this will be your last Wimpy Kid movie?

ZACHARY:

We don’t know yet. Hopefully, it isn’t, but I’m not sure. Hopefully, if the third one does awesome, we’ll do a fourth one.

TFK:

Now that you’ve officially graduated from middle school and are moving on to high school, what advice would you give to Greg and his friends about surviving it all?

ZACHARY:

A piece of advice that Rowley always says that I think Greg should really grasp is, “Be yourself and people will like you.” It’s just that Greg is in a rush to grow up and become famous and rich and everything, but he just has to take advantage of how old he is now and enjoy the experience he has now. He should really just be a nice person and take advantage of all opportunities and make a lot of friends and just have fun in school.

TFK:

You recently finished filming The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. Can you talk a little bit about your role?

ZACHARY:

I play a totally opposite role from Greg Heffley. I play Willie, and I bully young Burt Wonderstone. Filming that was pretty fun because I got to become a totally new character. But when I look back at the scenes, they’re hard for me to look at because I’m beating up on young Burt, and it makes me feel like I’m a really bad kid. I know that I was acting and everything. I’m glad it turned out as well as it did.

TFK:

Do you prefer playing the villain or the hero?

ZACHARY:

To me, personally, it doesn’t matter. Greg Heffley will always be special to me. Those kinds of roles are great. Whatever roles come up that I would love to play, it really doesn’t matter. I would like to just experience new characters. I love a good challenge.

TFK:

Why should kids go see Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days?

ZACHARY:

It is definitely a hilarious movie. There’s a great relationship between Greg and his Dad—so much funny stuff happens. I think a lot of people can relate to it. You definitely won’t be bored.


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