When your parents name you after a character in To a Kill a Mockingbird, a passion for reading probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. What should come as a surprise though is that Atticus Shaffer’s love of the printed word is partially responsible for where he finds himself today, playing Brick Heck, the hilarious youngest child on THE MIDDLE. We recently had the pleasure of catching up with the incredibly well-spoken young actor to find out what he’s reading now, which big-time movie star he’d next like to see play his teacher, and the fringe benefits that come with being one of the break-out stars of a hit ABC series.
Was acting something you always wanted to do?
Atticus Shaffer: What it was is that my Mom and I really loved to read. We’d always read out loud, make character voices and I was an above age reader at the time. And because of that my Mom — who saw one of my Dad’s co-worker’s son in a magazine — thought maybe I could do voice over. But the multiple people we met to try and get me in the business all thought I should try being in movies. So I kind of tried it and the first audition I went on I booked and it kind of just snowballed from there.
One of our favorite things about THE MIDDLE is how well the family interacts with each other. Do you have a favorite person to work with on set?
You know in my opinion we all just work so well with each other that whenever we’re paired up we’re kind of able to play off each other in such a neat way. We feed off each other so well that I really can’t say there is one person in particular that I love to work with because I love working with all of them.
Which family member are you paired up with in tonight’s episode?
For my storyline, tonight’s episode is another Brick and Sue one. Aunt Edie gives us a collection of old items that she doesn’t care for and among them is a cell phone, so Sue and Brick go on a texting spree and rack up a giant phone bill. So the episode is really about them trying to fix that.
Like Harry Potter’s Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Brick can’t ever seem to keep a teacher around for more than a year. Is there any actor you’d like to see play your teacher?
I really wouldn’t know because there have been such a wide variety of them. Doris Roberts, Chord Overstreet and Betty White as the Librarian have all been great. But maybe.. maybe Tom Cruise could guest star?
Much like your character Brick, you love to read. What are you reading right now?
I’m a huge nerd! I admit to that and am proud of that and I love to read Star Wars books. I also love to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, I’m loving that series and I also love to read history books about World War II.
Since reading and writing go hand-in-hand, do you like to write creatively? And have you ever pitched any story ideas to THE MIDDLE writers?
I don’t pitch ideas to them but my dream is to be able to go to College and take a course in directing because I want to become a director/writer. I love to write. Right now I’m even making a little stop-motion animation with my Legos where I’ll write little scripts or shorts that are usually historically or military scenes.
Aside from THE MIDDLE, do you have any favorite TV shows?
Again, as I said before, I’m a nerd. I love to watch the animated STAR WARS: CLONE WARS show on TV. Along with that, and this maybe weird, but I love to watch History Channel’s PAWN STARS, AMERICAN PICKERS and STORAGE WARS. I love those shows. THE MIDDLE star
According to your bio, you’re a huge lover of animals and are the proud owner of a small menagerie of pets which include five cats, two dogs, birds, fish and a large flock of chickens. Is there any animal that you don’t own that you’d like to?
We did have a rabbit and we loved having a rabbit, unfortunately he recently passed away. But not to replace him or anything but as another animal that follows in that sort of family it might be cool to have a Chinchillas. I definitely need to do a little more research on that but probably another animal in that sort of family.
As the star of one of ABC’s funniest and popular sitcoms, what kind of reaction do you get you from people on the street?
People come up to me and most of the time ask me to do the ‘Brick Whisper’ and what’s weird is that I’m not used to it yet. I’ll be out shopping with my Mom or something and people will turn to me and kind of point and whisper and I’m always thinking to myself, “Did I do something wrong? I blew my nose, is there a booger on my face?” And then it’s like, oh wait… that’s why! So I’m not used to it yet.
What is the coolest thing that being the star of a popular TV show has allowed you to do that you might not have otherwise been able to?
I think definitely this wouldn’t have been able to happen, over the summer I went to Florida to visit the new Lego Land that has opened there. It was still under construction, but I was able to go there, look around and be able to go into the secret warehouse where they build all the sculptures. I was able to build with a master Lego builder and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to do that just being a regular kid.
THE MIDDLE airs Wednesdays at 8PM on ABC (CityTV in Canada) and stars Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn, Charlie McDermott, Eden Sher and Atticus Shaffer. Catch up with past episodes you may have missed online at clicktowatch.tv