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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Robbie Amell: Hot Jock with a Twist in The Duff

Feb 16, 2015

By: Lynn Barker

If you have ever felt like the less attractive sidekick to your friends at school, even if you are good looking, you could be called their DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). In the new movie based on the novel by Kody Keplinger, cute 20-something actor Robbie Amell (cousin to Stephen Amell who plays “Arrow” on TV), plays Wesley who starts out as a typical, insensitive jock but grows to be best guy pal and social aide to Bianca (Mae Whitman) a smart and cute girl who has had to take a back seat to her more attractive, more popular friends her whole life.

Wesley (Robbie Amell) encourages Bianca (Mae Whitman)Wesley (Robbie Amell) encourages Bianca (Mae Whitman)Courtesy of CBS Films

We got Robbie to talk about working with costars Mae and Bella Thorne who plays the film’s mean girl, cast fun while shooting in Atlanta and his hot “Pec Flex” chest dance locker room scene from the film. Even this gorgeous young actor had bad skin in high school and felt pretty unattractive so hey DUFFs (and at one point or another we all think we are one) there is hope!!

Kidzworld: What is it with the Amell boys?  Did the acting bug bite everybody in your family?

  • Robbie: My cousin (Stephen Amell who plays Arrow on TV) and I got into it totally separately. I did commercials and print work when I was young and we were really close then but there is a seven year age gap. When he was 15, I was 8 so we stopped being as close and only saw each other at family events.
  • Then, I moved to L.A. to pursue acting after booking my first movie and he was pursuing acting in Toronto. He gave me a call and said he was gonna give it a shot in L.A. I was out of town so he stayed at my apartment and as soon as he moved there we fell right back into step (as buddies).

Kidzworld: It’s so odd that both of you are on superhero TV shows (he “Arrow” and you “The Flash”). Do you compare notes on your shows?

  • Robbie: That’s wild. We talk about it a lot but normally we’re just joking around.

Kidzworld: Let’s talk DUFF. Did you have the jock thing down without any research since you were big in hockey as a kid?

  • Robbie: No. I messed with our director who said “Can you throw a football?” I’m like “Of course”. I’m right-handed but just to mess with him I threw it with my left hand with really terrible form and I saw his jaw hit the ground. I said “Let me do another one” and I just launched a bullet right into his chest. But I grew up playing hockey at a really competitive level. I played with a couple of guys who happened to make it pro. But, you know at a pretty young age in Canada if you are a prospect or not. Not that acting is any easier.

Kidzworld: Okay, how did you perfect the “pec flex” chest dance you do in the film? It’s hilarious. The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) does something like it.

  • Robbie: I don’t know how I learned to do it but I’ve been doing it for a long time. I’m actually a huge fan of Dwayne Johnson. He’s so funny. We were shooting that scene and I told the director, “I’m gonna do something. If it makes me look like a douche don’t use it”. Mae (Whitman who plays The Duff Bianca) comes around the corner. She doesn’t know what I’m gonna do. I start bouncing my chest up and down and what you see is her real reaction.

Robbie about to perform his pec dance sceneRobbie about to perform his pec dance sceneCourtesy of CBS Films

Kidzworld: Well it really works! I understand you shot in Atlanta and the cast did a lot of off-set activities together. Tell me about some you really enjoyed.

  • Robbie: We all enjoy food and all went out for so many dinners and lunches and breakfasts. We caught movies. The nice thing about shooting on location is you are forced to spend time with the people you are working with. If you are shooting at home, you have the crutch of going home and just sleeping. On location you want to be social and hang out. We had a really good group. We went to an Atlanta Braves game. We went karaoke-ing one night which was great for everyone except me because I can’t sing but I was a good audience. It’s the closest thing you get to summer camp when you are in your 20’s.

Kidzworld: So you didn’t sneak on the “Walking Dead” set?

  • Robbie: (laughs) Actually, I bumped into Steven Yeun (who plays Glenn on the show) and he was still covered in dirt and blood from the shoot.

Kidzworld: I’m sure you have never been anybody’s DUFF but could you relate at all to what Bianca is going through?

  • Robbie: Yeah. Everybody just feels like the DUFF at different times in their lives. Everybody goes through it at some point. It’s more of a confidence thing and figuring out where you belong and who you are and what you want to be or do. It’s not just high school. It’s younger and older than that. Everybody can relate to the feeling. I think you would have to be pretty messed up to think of other people as DUFFs though.

Kidzworld: Any negative high school experiences?

  • Robbie: I finished high school in Toronto. I always make the joke that I grew up in Toronto and everybody in Canada is polite so I had a really good high school experience. I really enjoyed my high school experience. If I saw anybody being bullied, I was the guy who stepped in and stopped it. At the same time, I had bad skin when I was in high school and nothing makes you feel more like a DUFF than looking in the mirror and not liking what you see. It’s a killer. I feel like that was my DUFF-ing.

Wesley (Robbie Amell) gives Bianca (Mae Whitman) social adviceWesley (Robbie Amell) gives Bianca (Mae Whitman) social adviceCourtesy of CBS Films

Kidzworld: Wesley is just blunt and mean at first but then he seems to grow and say helpful things like “You are only as awesome as you think you are”. Did you really concentrate on making him not the “bad guy”?

  • Robbie: Absolutely. When I first read the script I was really scared he was going to be this typical jock. That’s not what I was looking to play. As I read the script I realized that this guy has a good heart. He has good intentions. He’s just a bit of an idiot at the beginning but the nice thing is, he gets to go on this journey with Bianca and they really learn from each other. That’s where I got to bring a little more of myself to the character. I feel like the beginning was me hamming it up.

Kidzworld: Talk about working with Mae and then working with Bella. Are they two very different ladies?

  • Robbie: They are. Mae is always on. She is unbelievably smart, witty and funny, just a great girl. She’s actually a little intimidating because she’s done so many big comedies and worked with so many incredible actors. I would say half the movie turned into improv. We were always just bouncing things off each other. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t but we just really got to have a good time and we became really quick friends. I think the chemistry shows in the movie.
  • Honestly, I thought Bella was going to be crazy because she’s this beautiful 17-year-old girl who has 8 million people at her fingertips on Twitter, Instagram and all that and she couldn’t have been nicer. I met her and her mom on the airplane to Atlanta. We ditched my driver and all hopped in her car and hit a drive-through on the way. We also became quick friends. She is so mature for her age. She’s so sweet then you see her turn on this horrible mean girl thing and it’s even more impressive.

Kidzworld: Tell me about the charity you are involved with currently. 

  • Robbie: I’ve been doing a little bit of work with “Hometown Heroes”.  They help kids whose parents died fighting for our country.

Skyler Samuels, Bianca Santos and Mae Whitman as bestiesSkyler Samuels, Bianca Santos and Mae Whitman as bestiesCourtesy of CBS Films

Kidzworld: That’s really great to help them. Whether you own it or not, which car is your favorite ride and which band or music artist are you most into right now?

  • Robbie: I’ve owned 19 cars in my life. I would get bored with one and sell it and buy a new one. Some I’d make money on and some not but recently my fiancée (actress Italia Ricci) bought me a 2014 Chevy Corvette Stingray. It’s beautiful. It’s white with red interior. And music? I listen to a lot of Kanye West. I don’t really like him as a person but I like his music and One Republic, I think the song “I Lived” is a great song.

Kidzworld: If you were still dating and not engaged, what would be your pet peeve on a date, like if they do this, they wouldn’t get a second date with you.

  • Robbie: If they don’t have any manners. I think a guy should be chivalrous, open the door and do everything to make the lady feel like a lady, but, if the lady expects it and thinks she is “all that” and has a big ego, that’s a big turn off.

Kidzworld: Besides the series, are you doing anything else we should look for soon?

  • Robbie: I have a movie coming out on August 21st called Max where I play a Marine who wants to bring his dog back to the states.

Kidzworld: I love that!

The Duff Poster with Robbie in center The Duff Poster with Robbie in center Courtesy of CBS Films

The Duff is in theaters February 24th!