So far during the third season of ABC’s family sitcom “The Middle,“ the awkward yet adorable youngest member of the Heck family, Brick, has quoted Shakespeare, obsessed over a food delivery catalog, caught his first trout, skipped gym class (with his teacher’s permission) and dressed up as the ghost of Ernest Hemingway for Halloween. What could possibly be up next for the unpredictably quirky pint-sized character played by Atticus Shaffer?
The California-born cutie phoned XfinityTV.com to discuss just that — as well as what it’s like to work with recurring co-star Norm Macdonald and the lesson he taught one of America’s most beloved five-time Emmy winners.
About this week’s episode, Shaffer explained that “what happens is Aunt Edie gives Brick and Sue a bag of knick-knacks that she had that she was willing to part with. She gives it to them and when they’re looking through the bag, they find her cell phone. Then they start a phoning and texting craze and of course, rack up the phone bill. Then they try to cover that up.”
Even though he had no problem playing a text message deviant, Shaffer made it very clear that is very much in control of his own cell phone habits.
“I do have a cell phone but that has never happened to me. I hardly ever use it to be honest. Of course, I use it — but I’m not one to be constantly [texting] BRB, BRB, BRB, TTYL. You know? I’m not that kind of person. I do text though.”
Xfinity also took a moment to ask about a favorite recurring “Middle” character who returns on November 16’s episode to attend a special school event with Brick — Uncle Rusty, as played by “Saturday Night Live” vet Norm Macdonald.
“It was just such a fun scene,” Shaffer explained. “It was so much fun to have him on set. I really like having guest stars because with all of the cast members, you all know each other. You kind of have the same feeling [on set] all the time. But with guest stars like Norm — he is funny and he loves to laugh. He loves to be playful and play a funny character. He brings something new [to set] — new stories and a new feeling. That’s what I really love about him.”
When pressed to name some of his other favorite guest stars, the 13-year-old actor was quick to answer.
“I loved doing that scene with Betty White,” Shaffer said. “It was really cool because she didn’t quite know how to do the [Brick] whisper so I got to teach her how I do the whisper so she could do it in the scene. That was really cool for me. [...] I’m not trying to say that to be braggy — it’s just the fact that she was there and so nice and I was able to help her with that. Even though I never worked with her, it was still really cool to have Brooke Shields on set. She was so nice and so funny.”
The actor also took a moment to touch on some bonus subjects — like how he compares to Brick in real life, his newfound celebrity and his dream television guest star role.
How he compares to Brick in real life: “I love playing Brick because I am basically playing myself really. Brick and I are so much alike. [...]There are only two ways that [Brick] and I are different. One is that I do talk to myself, just not in a whisper. The second is that I’m not as into fonts as he is.”
Whether he is recognized by fans: “I am and I’m not used to it yet! I’ll be in Target or somewhere shopping with my mom. Just recently, I had a cold and I was recognized several times. I was just sitting in Target, just getting over my cold. I blew my nose and I see these people looking at me and kind of whispering and pointing. Finally, I went, ‘Is everything okay? Did I do something wrong? Do I have a booger on my face and no one’s telling me?’ I’m just not used to it. And then there are others that come up to you and almost cut you off. I kind of have to step back a little bit and go, ‘Where did you come from? Did you come down from the ceiling?’”
His dream guest star job: “If there was any show I could guest star on, I would want to guest star on ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ because I am such a nerd and I love that show. If there was ever an opportunity to be on that, I would snatch it up. [...] I know for a fact that I would want to play an alien or a Padawan learner, like a youngling. I think it would just be amazing.”
Watch Brick and the rest of the Hecks in this clip: