Today’s TV Addict Top 5: THE MIDDLE Star Charlie McDermott Previews Axl’s College Years

With much of ABC’s publicity prowess dedicated to the unstoppable Emmy juggernaut that is MODERN FAMILY’s return tonight, we here at wanted to give a little love to the undisputed little-sitcom-that-could! Namely, THE MIDDLE, which kicks off what promises to be a fantastic fifth season tonight (8PM on ABC) with just a smidgen less fanfare. What’s more, in keeping with the “fresh start” theme this fall, we recently had the pleasure of chatting one-on-one with Axl Heck. Also known by his real name, actor Charlie McDermott, who was only too happy to take some time to talk about his character’s transition to College. See for yourself, after the jump.

Axl actually graduated! Are you exciting to play a character going to College and were you at all nervous in terms of what that might mine for your character’s screen time having seen what happened to Haley last season on MODERN FAMILY?
Charlie McDermott: It’s always kind of nice to get your own little story, which is totally different thing for me to be shooting on my own, outside of the immediate family. It’s exciting and a lot of fun. We’re shooting our fifth episode starting Monday and it’s been some of my favorite stuff so far. But the difference between THE MIDDLE and a show like MODERN FAMILY is that they have twelve main characters and we only have five, so to get sent off somewhere on a show like that it’s easy to get lost. On our show, Axl at college has the same amount of screen time as Axl in high school because it’s a close drive home. And as you can imagine, he’s constantly driving home for free food and for Frankie to do his laundry!

What’s college life like for Axl? Is it safe to assume that it involves making plenty of new friends, particularly of the female variety?
Actually, so far Axl has had no luck with girls and to be honest, I don’t know if he’ll ever have a girlfriend again! He has befriended his alter ego, the guy who ruled his own high school when he was there, a new football friend and they’re getting hazed together. Unfortunately it turns out that both of them are not cool in college. Axl also has a horrible new roommate who ignores him completely.

How is Axl’s mom Frankie dealing with the inevitable separation anxiety and have you got to shoot what I’m sure will be a hilarious episode involving sister Sue spending the weekend at college!?
Sue has yet to visit Axl in College, while Frankie is going to take some time to adjust. In the season premiere she goes from boasting about Axl heading to college, being excited and being in denial about him leaving, and when he does it hits her pretty hard. Of course Axl is pumped to be going and could not be happier.

Has shooting the season made you at all nostalgic for college life, not having had the opportunity as of yet to attend one yourself?
To be honest college is something I never had any desire to do. When I was in high school, I was formulating a plan to convince my parents to let me not go to college and move to LA to pursue acting. I was looking at apartment rentals in New York and Los Angeles, thinking I just convince them and luckily enough I got my foot in the door earlier than I thought. So I was actually able to move out during high school and go for it. Of course the whole deal was that if I wasn’t working I’d have to go to college, but I booked a show in what would have been my senior year in high school and it’s worked out. I do get to visit my friends every couple of months, experience the fun parts of college and skip out on the rest of it. So it’s a pretty good deal!

And with apologies in advance for this question, but I have to ask: Is Axl shirtless more or less now that he’s in college?
[Laughs] Less! I think I’ve only been in boxers once this season. Five episodes and only one scene, which is fine by me!

THE MIDDLE airs Wednesdays at 8PM on ABC (Fridays on CityTV in Canada)

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