Photo credit: Vince Trupsin
Atticus Shaffer plays the role of the quirky yet loveable Brick on ABC’s hit sitcom “The Middle”. The series also stars actress Patricia Heaton and actor Neil Flynn and was recently picked up for a seventh season. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Atticus prior to the season 6 finale where he discussed his involvement with the show since its original pilot, his thoughts on the Heck Families changing dynamics and what he does to keep himself busy outside of the show.
Adam Lawton: What has it been like for you having been involved with the show since the original series and now going into the finale of season 6?
Atticus Shaffer: Even though this is the finale of season 6 going back to that first original pilot I have been with the show now around 7 or 8 years. This was one of those projects that from the very start I wanted to work out. I have hoped for the best from the very start. Even after the first pilot didn’t get picked up there was this lingering that it wasn’t over. After sometime a second pilot was put together and we got it that time. There was this energy on set where everyone where we were looking forward to the next episode and subsequently the next season. We always just kept moving forward. Now with season 6 over we are past the point of syndication so we were all thinking that this could potentially be it. To find out we got picked up for another season is a huge blessing. I am really excited not only for what the writers have in store for Brick but for the show as a whole.
AL: Having played the Brick character for so long now what type of things do you do to still challenge yourself as an actor in that role?
AS: You always hear about people getting stuck in a certain character and being unable to break away from that. It’s something that is very true. When you are playing a character eight months out of the year things almost start to become robotic. Some days you might be shooting scenes where you don’t have a lot going on so you’re just sort of going through the motions and then you go home. It’s great when the writers throw me a bone because I completely dedicate myself to what they have done. It’s me just focusing on portraying the character the best I can. Something that I think has helped from the very beginning is my voice over work which I do outside of the show. I love animation and fortunately a lot of those studios are in close proximity to where we shoot “The Middle”. I often will get done working on the series and then go down the street and get to do some voice over work. For the first three years of the show I was also doing voice work on “Frankenweenie” at the same time. Starting during season two I was also doing “Fish Hooks” as well. I have what I like to call my “pallet cleansers” which keeps me fresh. I have done a lot of cool voice roles which has helped me during my in between times on the series. I just found out recently that I will be doing voice work for one of the main five characters on a new Disney series which will be announced in the near future. It’s a really great opportunity that I am very excited about. I have my live action series family and now I have my voice over series family. It’s really great to be a part of both.
AL: How has Brick in season 6 compared to the Brick we have seen in previous season?
AS: This season Brick has matured quite a lot both emotionally and mentally. Instead of being the eye in the storm character whose very matter of fact he puts more work into things now. It’s cool to be able to see Brick mature and now he of course has a girlfriend. Brick is now finding the people who understand him. While his family still of course understands him he has been able to explain to them more about his thoughts and feelings. But again Brick is also finding social circle to where he can talk about the same types of things outside his home. It’s interesting to see him mature but at the same time he’s still classic Brick.
AL: With Axl and Sue both being out of the house now going into season 7 how do you feel the family dynamics will change in the Heck household?
AS: With both of those characters out of the house I had been thinking of what that would mean for Brick and how the writers would approach things. This can be sort of a blessing and a curse. It certainly can open up the door for a number of different story lines however the family might not be as close of a unit with less people now so that can certain impact things. I think it would be cool if Brick continues to mature and keeps finding people he can relate to which ultimately helps him develop a really tight knit friend group that he can be with when he is not at home.
AL: Are you able to bring these types of ideas to the writers for consideration?
AS: In the very beginning the writers had specific story lines that they wanted the characters to follow. Around season 4 most of those lines had been used and they start looking for different ideas and input. Every year I sit down with the creators of the show and talk about the plans for the character. I like to be aware of what’s going on with Brick so we talk about some of the episodes and then I give my ideas of what I think might be a cool way to go with
things. Most of the time they may not use the ideas but every once in awhile they give me something and I get really excited. It’s one of those things that can be tough but at the same time its fun to see what they come up with.
AL: Where do you feel fans will be left at the close of season 6?
AS: I think it’s one of those thing where if we hadn’t been officially picked up for a 7th season it would be very easy for people to panic thinking we left them on a cliff hanger. From here on out I think the episodes will include everything but the kitchen sink. I think the end of this season will certainly leave people with questions however they can sort of breathe a sigh of relief knowing that there is more to come next season.