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Reese Hartwig: Earth to Echo’s Adorable Funnyman

Jun 27, 2014

By: Lynn Barker

Have you ever had to leave BFFs forever? On their last night before having to move out of their neighborhood, three pals plus the girl they are all crushin’ on, go on the adventure of a lifetime and prove that kids and teens matter and can make a huge, life-saving difference, all while making a new friend from another planet!

Teo, Ella, Reese and Astro (cast of Earth to Echo)Teo, Ella, Reese and Astro (cast of Earth to Echo)

Cute and funny, soon-to-be-16-year-old actor Reese Hartwig (also in the upcoming Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) plays the funny and touching “Munch” in the new sci-fi adventure film Earth to Echo. Munch can whip up anything electronic, has a heart of gold but is a little wary, at first, of breaking all the rules to help save a new little being from space who really needs the help of Munch and his best pals Alex,Tuck and Emma. Finally, it’s Munch who really helps save the day.

Munch (Reese-far right) and friends the morning afterMunch (Reese-far right) and friends the morning after

In real life, Reese told us that he is a bit like Munch in some ways but very different in others. He is the comic center of the film and the teen actor said he’d love to grow up to host “The Tonight Show” and be on “Saturday Night Live”. He also can’t wait for his b-day late this month!

Kidzworld: Hey Reese, you’ll be 16 at the end of this month, any birthday plans yet?

  • Reese: This movie coming out is my present and the party is me going to the DMV and getting my (drivers) license.

Kidzworld: Congrats! That is huge! So, comedy is your thing. Are you more into shows like “Saturday Night Live” or doing stand-up comedy or do you want to host “The Tonight Show” someday?

  • Reese: Heck, yes. I could (do all that)! That’s what I’m all about but I like doing movies the best presently. I love watching “Saturday Night Live” and if I could be on it, that would be cool too.

Alex and Munch (Reese) on the roadAlex and Munch (Reese) on the road

Kidzworld: Who was the jokester or prankster on the “Echo” set or did you guys not have enough time to goof off?

  • Reese: This was our first big movie going into theaters and since we are all minors under 18, we could only work a certain number of hours and had to have a teacher and get three hours of school a day. It sucked, okay. It was super fun doing the film but we had to be on set all night and work late and crank stuff out. But, I think Teo (Halm) and Ella (Wahlestedt) had a prank. She put Justin Bieber pictures all over his trailer. That was pretty funny but we were like machines, working a lot.

Kidzworld: I understand that you all met before shooting to get to know each other. What kinds of things did you do?  

  • Reese: Our director Dave Green said we needed to get together because we’d be playing buddies so we went to Universal Citiwalk (in L.A.) and did that “I Fly” thing where you float above a big fan (it’s like skydiving). It’s so fun. We went bowling and I got creamed at that and we went to Buca di Beppo (Italian restaurant) and we were all hanging out.

Director Green instructs Reese (Munch) on setDirector Green instructs Reese (Munch) on set

Kidzworld: All the friends in the movie are having to move away. Have you ever had to move away and leave good friends? 

  • Reese: My hometown is Glendale, Arizona and I had to move away from that. I sure did leave good friends behind but last weekend we had this screening of the movie and I got to see them all. They all came out and watched it.

Kidzworld: Very cool! Munch is the cautious one and sort of a MacGyver or fix it guy. Are you like him at all and how are you different? Also, why is he called Munch? Does he eat a lot?

  • Reese: (laughs) There is no real purpose for it. His real name is Reginald so they were like “Let’s just think of something easier”. Henry the writer, I’m going to have to ask him that. “Why Munch”?
  • I’m similar to him in that I really like how Munch’s head is on a swivel. He’s ready for anything. He’s got all the tools for everything too. He’s sort of a mini-hoarder. I like his idea of always being ready and prepared, watching for stuff. That’s how I am. I like to be ready for anything. I have my times when I can be nervous and scared but I don’t think I’m like that. I’m not a hoarder either.

Munch (Reese) wires all the gang's phones to ring on hisMunch (Reese) wires all the gang's phones to ring on his

Kidzworld: Do you and your friends shoot a lot of video for fun and post it?

  • Reese: Actually, for school, they have this morning show with the news of the school and I did that and that was fun. I learned how to use a teleprompter and edit stuff and be on the other side of the camera. I also got to do some on-camera stuff. I liked that.

Kidzworld: Did your director ask you to watch movies like E.T., The Goonies or Stand By Me? 80’s classics about buddies?

  • Reese: I’ve seen E.T. and I think I’ve seen “Goonies” but that’s been so long I don’t remember them too well. He said “I want you to do it exactly how you did on the callback interview” for this character. I guess the way I played Munch on the audition was how it needed to be. I thought in my head how the character of Munch would be and what he’d say and did my best. I didn’t really base it on anything. We all have that one guy like Munch in our group of friends.

Munch (Reese Hartwig) discovers EchoMunch (Reese Hartwig) discovers Echo

Kidzworld: I read that there were a lot of 3-D printed versions of Echo on set. Were they cool and did that help you as an actor to have them there instead of looking at a tennis ball supposed to be him?

  • Reese: It depended on the scene or the area where we were shooting. Sometimes there was nothing in my hand and I had to look at a tape mark and do my job. But, sometimes it was a little puppet that could move and glow and do little beeps and stuff but most of the time it was computer animated (and put in later).

Kidzworld: You and your dad love movie cars. Which is your fave? (Batmobile, DeLorean, etc.)?

Kidzworld: That’s a cool car.  What band or music artist are you really into right now?

  • Reese: I’m in California now so there is this radio channel called Jack FM 93.1. I don’t know what type of music they play, all different types. There are lots of things on it I like.

Munch (left) and friends coordinate their phones to get mapsMunch (left) and friends coordinate their phones to get maps

Kidzworld: Talk about the “Alexander” movie. Who do you play?

  • Reese: My character’s name is Elliot and he’s in the second part of Alexander’s awful day. Elliot’s little sister in the movie is Alex’s crush. Alexander likes her. I know this and I kind of tease him for it. It was cool to play that because it is totally different from Munch in “Echo”. It was great for me because I could show people I’m not just one guy.

Kidzworld: What else is next for you?

  • Reese: The Alexander movie is coming up and I’m the voice of Johnny Quest in this movie that’s pretty cool. Then I’m back to auditioning.

Kidzworld: Why will kids and teens really get into Earth to Echo?

  • Reese: It’s a live action, family friendly, fun adventure. It’s one of those movies people don’t make much anymore. It’s got aliens and spaceships flying around so that’s always cool to see. If people go, I think they’ll love it.

Earth To Echo PosterEarth To Echo Poster

Earth to Echo is in theaters July 2nd!