Freddie Highmore Practices The Art of Getting By
By: Lynn Barker
The talented little guy in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory andThe Spiderwick Chronicles is a young adult now. Cute Freddie Highmore is now 19 and is playing a high school senior in The Art of Getting By, his new coming-of-age film costarring Emma Roberts.
Freddie’s character George is a very bright and talented but aimless slacker who only gets inspired to succeed when he meets pretty and friendly high schooler Sally (Emma Roberts). He takes the rap for her when she is smoking on the school roof and their relationship launches from there.
Kidzworld wanted to meet the new, more adult Freddie so we’re on the cell with him, L.A. to New York. He’s giving us dating advice, talking about his buddy Johnny Depp and tells us where he’d go if he were ditching school (although that’s not a good idea). World, let’s re-meet Freddie Highmore!
Kidzworld: What was it about this character George that made you really want to play him?
- Freddie: I think it was in the real way that he was portrayed. There are a lot of scripts about important moments in your life, having that first love in high school but I think they are often portrayed in a stylized way and the emotions are more heightened. I think George, having come, to a certain extent, from (writer/director) Gavin Weisen’s life, always felt incredibly real and not only did I feel the character meant something to me but I thought I could put some of my own experiences into it.
Kidzworld: I know you’ve said you want to work again with Johnny Depp. Anything cooking there?
- Freddie: He’s a great friend and we keep in touch. Whenever we’re in the same country, we try and say hello to each other. It would be great to work with him a third time (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Finding Neverland). He’s working with Tim Burton again (Dark Shadows). Hopefully I’ll be able to see him sometime over this summer.
Kidzworld: You learned to play guitar for the movie August Rush. Do you still play? Any thoughts of getting into a band for fun?
- Freddie: I still pick up a guitar and go through a few of the tunes from the film now and again and I have several guitars, mementos and a couple from the film. I do enjoy playing a few songs but I haven’t developed my skills that much.
Kidzworld: What bands or music artists are you really into right now?
- Freddie: Right now I’m listening to The National.
Kidzworld: You are going to college at Cambridge? What are you studying?
- Freddie: I started in October and it’s a four year course. Last Friday I just finished final exams. It’s been crazy. I’ll carry on doing that for the next three years and then finally make a decision as to what I want to do for the rest of my life. I’m studying Arabic and Spanish.
Kidzworld: George and Sally ditch school for a day and go to Chinatown in New York to eat noodles and they go to a French film. What would you most like to do if you cut school?
- Freddie: Make sure you don’t get caught, obviously. It depends on where I was but, in New York, one of my favorite restaurants is John’s Pizza so depending on who I was cutting school with, it would be great fun to take them there. That’s always been fun whether cutting school or on a date. Go somewhere that means something to you and you’ll have great fun letting someone else in on the secret. You feel that you are sharing something with them.
Kidzworld: George has a nightmare in which Sally comes to his art exhibit but all his canvases are blank. Have you ever had a nightmare that stuck with you?.. showing up at school in your underwear is a common dream.
- Freddie: (laughing) I’ve been all right with dreams. But I used to have one dream where I’m falling through black space and stars would go by. It got quite boring. You think “Can’t my dreams be more entertaining tonight?”
Kidzworld: George and Sally have a nice Valentine’s Day dinner as friends but has it been annoying to be born on Valentine’s Day? Like do you take out a girlfriend or celebrate a birthday with family or both?
- Freddie: It’s never been too problematic. You get a Valentine’s/Birthday card from the stray uncle. I guess it could be (a problem) if you are waiting for that special someone and never have one on Valentine’s Day but, so far, I’ve quite liked having my birthday on Valentine’s Day.
Kidzworld: Was it ever difficult for you to make that transition from child actor to young adult? Was that just a smooth ride for you or do you feel you are still making the transition?
- Freddie: I’m not sure if there is a clear-cut transition being a child actor to an adult one. You’re just going to inevitably play older characters. It’s not a conscious decision “Okay, I’m going to switch to doing adult roles now”. It just happens generally. The Art of Getting By is more mature than other things I’ve done but it seems a sort of natural progression as opposed to something I’ve focused on achieving.
Kidzworld: Dustin (Michael Angarano’s older artist character in the film) advises George to just throw Sally up against a wall and kiss her if he doesn’t want to lose her. Do you think that’s good advice or what is the worst dating advice you’ve ever been given?
- Freddie: Well, I don’t know if shoving a girl up against a wall and just kissing her is the best advice but there’s a grain of truth in that, in that you have to just go for it. You can’t just sit back and wait for the relationship to take care of itself. I think that’s part of growing up; realizing that you can’t be a passive person. You have to take control of your own life and say “I really want to be with this girl so I’m going to something about it”.
Kidzworld: What must a girl never do on a date with you or she won’t get a second date?
- Freddie: That’s a tricky one but maybe striking up a conversation with someone else or having a double conversation going on, talking to you while texting with somebody on their Blackberry or calling someone else but I guess it depends on the situation.
Kidzworld: Are you a sports guy? Soccer?
- Freddie: Big soccer fan. I’ve got season tickets to Arsenal. They’re doing all right. Last year we were the fourth best team in England so not too bad. We’re consistently high in the standings.
Kidzworld: What historical person or character in a book would you love to play some day?
- Freddie: Holden Caulfield. “Catcher in the Rye” is a brilliant book but looks like it will never be made into a film. George is sort of my Caulfield character so I’ve already done that.
Kidzworld: What country or city are you just dying to travel to and why?
- Freddie: I’d like to travel more in America. I’ve only been to L.A. and New York for any extended period of time. I always just fly over the middle. So I’d love to take a road trip.
Kidzworld: Do you have ambitions to write or direct?
- Freddie: Yeah. That would be wonderful. I don’t have any great ideas for a script yet that I would write but it would be fantastic to get to that stage when I’ve got something that really means something to me, to write that down or direct.