What do you do when you have a very bad day? Sometimes, I just want to hide under the covers and stay out of everyone’s way! Everyone has an “off” day from time to time but having a terrible day as a kid can be really difficult. I remember feeling that no one understood my teenage girl plights. Disney’s upcoming film “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” is based on the children’s book of the same title by Judith Viorst. The main character is Alexander who starts off his morning cutting gum out of his hair and his day only goes downhill from there. His family seems to have the opposite issue. Everyone has something exciting going on in their lives and they seem to ignore Alexander’s concerns even when he shares his feelings with them. Well, everything changes for everyone after Alexander makes a wish.
I was one of the lucky few who attended a set visit in Pasadena during the filming of the movie. Seeing the actors, the extras and the film-makers do their thing is really cool. I also talked with Ed Oxenbould who plays Alexander. Ed is a talented 12-year-old who is from Australia and puts on a pretty convincing American accent. Here’s what he had to say about his upcoming role, balancing school and acting. I also found out who his favorite actor is!
Is it very hard to do an American accent? We know you’re from Australia…
Ed Oxenbould: Yeah. It’s my first time doing the American accent, so it’s been hard, you know? There’s been a lot of sessions with the dialect coach, Susan, and there’s a dialect and acting coach that’s always on set, and she’s really nice. She alwayshelps. She’s always tweaking, and the dialect coach, we do a lot of stuff outside of set, which is good. I think I’m doing okay, but I guess you will have to wait and see.
Did you know this story when you signed on to do this movie?
EO: I had heard of the book. I’d never read it, but I had actually seen parodies of it in a “MAD Magazine.” That’s actually where I’d first heard of it, and now I’ve read it a couple of times. It’s a little bit different from the book, and there’s not much to make a movie out of, ten pages. But, it’s pretty true to the book.
Can you relate to the character?
ED: Yeah. I can. ‘Cause it’s kind of about a family that doesn’t really listen to him, and that’s kind of my family as well. [LAUGHS] I’m in trouble now.
What’s been your favorite part of making this film, so far?
EO: The other day, I had to do a stunt, and there was no stunt double, so I had to light something on fire — a big periodic table, and it just went up in flames. Which is really fun. A little bit dangerous but it was fun.
How has it been, working with Dick Van Dyke, Steve Carell and Jennifer Garner?
EO: It’s really amazing. I just met Dick Van Dyke, which was pretty awesome. Steve and Jenn are so nice. They’re just lovely people. They’re just normal, you know? And they’re so nice, it was really interesting, working with them, and I’m going to miss them. I’m going to miss everyone on set. There’s not one person who I don’t like.
How did you get the part?
EO: It was a long process. I recently got managers over here, and a couple of months ago I had a phone conversation with them for a first time. And they said, “Look. We’ve got this thing for you. Do you want to have a look at it?” And I read a little bit of the script, and I said yes. So in my house in Australia, in my living room, my dad and my mum just filmed a little audition, and then they liked it. I did about two more, then they flew me over here for four days, and I did an audition.
I met Miguel Arteta, who is the best guy. And the producers. And then I went back, and I did about four more auditions that me and my mum and my dad filmed, and then there was a period of about two weeks, where, just nothing happened. And we thought, you just gotta let it go. Then they called before I left for to school. They asked, ‘Do you want to do it?’ I said, ‘Yeah’! So, I just went to school that day and I didn’t tell anyone that I had an awesome secret, which was fun.
What do you do when you have a bad day?
EO: I take it out on my family. [LAUGHS] Probably. If I have a bad day, I just try and find something good in the day, you know. I just wait it out.
Tell us what you thought about working with the animals that are in the film?
ED : The party scene was really fun, ’cause it was amazing, the art people did a great job, and there were kangaroos, emus, wallabies, iguanas and cockatoos. I’ve seen most of them, but it was really funm working with them. Many of the American kids were like, ‘Whoa.’ Everyone calls them “emus.” They’re “ee-myuus.” I’m just saying. I have to keep saying that. The words that I’ve said the most since I’ve been here is, ‘We don’t have that in Australia.’
In the book Alexander has really wild hair. Are they doing anything with your hair at all?
EO: No, it is, what it is now. And it’s red in the book as well. So obviously they didn’t care about that… [LAUGHS]
Do you have a tutor on set?
EO: Because I’m following the Australia curriculum, there’s a school in Australia that specializes when people travel. This school sends over packages and stuff, and I have a supervisor who helps me. She’s the best teacher. I don’t want to go back to normal school without her.
Is it hard to balance work and school?
EO: It is. It’s tough. But, knowing that I love school now, it’s just probably the only time I’ll ever say that in my life, It’s just something in a one-on-one little school room. It’s just a trailer. Just a nice little room.
ED: Um, at the moment? I’m going to back to Australia, and I might do another movie there. Only, a small, independent film, for about four weeks. I might take the next year off from acting, because I’m going to high school. I think I’m going to take the first year off, and then see what I’m going to do. But this is my first feature film, and it has definitely made me want to come back. Like, I could see myself living here, for a while. I really like LA. It’s kind of like Sydney, except everything is more spread out. You have to drive everywhere. And it’s pretty much hot every single day of the year. It’s kind of funny. Because the other day, it was a little bit windy, and everyone was like, ‘It’s so cold,’ and it’s not.
How old were you when you first started acting?
EO: Probably about five. And the first thing I did was a voiceover for an advertisement, and that was it. Then I did a little bit more,commercials, and then I did a short film, and then I got a TV series in Australia, that was a recurring role. I just finished the second season of that. And then I got this, and then I did another short film, and then — who knows?
Who is your favorite actor that you look up to?
ED : Wow. I would actually have to say probably Steve Carell. I mean, “Anchorman” is like, my favorite movie of all time. Now that I’ve met him and I know what he’s like, he’s definitely a really good role model. He’s a normal person and he’s super nice.
You need to see Ed Oxenbould in action! You will feel for him and his entire family! I do have to say, that no matter how bad your day gets you can turn it around. Don’t ever feel that you don’t have someone to talk to. Turn to your close friends and family for support and I’m sure they will share some of their own very bad day stories.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day stars Jennifer Garner, Steve Carell and Ed Oxenbould. The film is is rated PG and will be in theaters on October 10.