The creator behind this Youtube sensation brings the character to DVD for his first feature-length adventure on October 5th
Lucas Cruikshank is both the creator and face behind Youtube sensation Fred Figglehorn, a phenomenon who has reached out and dug his chalkboard-nail scratch of a high pitched wail deep into the tween subconscious. Fred is a lovelorn pixie caught adrift between puberty and childhood innocence. His voice is locked at a permanent ear bleed decimal, as though he were birthed in a helium factory. He looks as though God squeezed Pee-Wee Herman, Justin Bieber, and Earnest P. Worrell through a Play Doh fun factory. And his soul purpose for being revolves around Judy, his supposed ladylove.
Since debuting his own Youtube Channel on Halloween of 2006, Fred Figglehorn has garnered millions of subscribers, turning Lucas Cruikshank's character into a cult icon amongst the pre-teen, tween, and teenage set. He has a rabid fanbase and a merchandizing empire, and now, he is venturing into feature films with Fred: The Movie. Which debuted last month on Nickelodeon to record ratings, and is now poised to take the home video market by storm with a DVD packed full of extras, dropping this Tuesday, October 5th, 2010.
We recently caught up with Lucas Cruikshank to chat with him about the movie, his future plans for Fred, and what he has in store for himself as an actor. Here is our conversation:
You began this venture as a kid alone in his room with a video camera. Now, you are shooting a film with a real production crew. What was going through your mind as you preformed Fred in front of ten sweaty grips, and a lightening guy, and a director all staring at you?
Lucas Cruikshank: It wasn't that big of a deal. Obviously, there was that whole entire crew there. But when you are stuck in the middle of shooting, all you are thinking about is being Fred. What is Fred thinking? You're not really in that Lucas mindset. It's pretty much the same. You try to conform to the character. Except that there was this whole crew around me, instead of one tripod and a camera.
So, they never threw you off your game?
Lucas Cruikshank: I've done other professional acting gigs. This wasn't the first time that I'd done this. I've been on iCarly and Hannah Montana. And a few other things. I was already used to doing this. I was used to the big crew.
How did you decide what you wanted to do, in terms of bringing Fred into a feature film for DVD and television?
Lucas Cruikshank: Fred has this whole entire world to him. And there are so many characters that you don't ever get to see. Like Kevin, Judy, and the mom. This movie was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of being able to not just show Fred's perspective of the entire thing, but we get to see the whole, entire world of Fred. We get to see Fred in the real world as opposed to him just being in his house. And we finally get to see Kevin.
Fred: The Movie reminds me a lot of the Earnest movies. As it does Pee-Wee's Big Adventure. Did you look at some of those other character-based franchise films in deciding what you wanted to do with Fred in this larger environment?
And that has certainly paid off in what we see you doing here. The trampoline scene is one moment where you're obviously doing your own stunts. Do you ever worry about getting hurt on set? Are you extremely cautious, or do you just throw yourself into it headfirst?
Lucas Cruikshank: I never really worry about that kind of stuff. There were probably a lot of people on set who were worrying about it. They were all so overly cautious about everything, it seems like. I was in every scene. They didn't want to work around a cast. So they were always really cautious about hurting me.
The film debuted to huge ratings on Nickelodeon. Is there any talk of giving Fred his own weekly TV series? Or are you going to do a run of movies? Or is Nickelodeon going to bring Fred to the big screen? What is the next step from here?
Lucas Cruikshank: I don't really know if I'd want Fred to be involved in a weekly series. I have been trying to guilt Nickelodeon into letting me do a sitcom. But I want it to revolve around a whole new character. In talking about where Fred is headed? We're hoping to shoot a sequel. We're working on that right now. I don't know where it would go. If it will air on TV, or if it will play at the theater. But I am excited about it.
What direction are you planning to take the sequel? What adventures are in store for Fred next?
Lucas Cruikshank: I really can't tell you. We're in the process of figuring that out right now.
Derf is the other character that you play in Fred: The Movie. Did you specifically create this punk rocker to prove that you could do more than just Fred?
Lucas Cruikshank: It wasn't put in there for that specific purpose, but I do like how it did that. It showed people what I can do. It allowed my fans to see other stuff. A lot of people tend to think this is who I am. When you are a really iconic character, everyone thinks that's all you can do. It's nice to show people that I'm not a one-trick pony. But Derf was actually there because Fred, when he is out in the real world, doesn't have any friends. We had to give him someone to get advice from, someone he could talk to. So, that's actually how Derf came to be.
How did you go about creating this particular character? Was he based on some of the guys you went to school with, or saw around you neighborhood? Or was he just someone who was in your head, and you had to get him out of there?
Lucas Cruikshank: Derf is Fred spelled backwards, so I tried to make him the complete opposite. We wanted him to be a guy that Fred would be in awe of. To Fred, Derf is like God, because he is so cool. We needed someone like that to be rooting Fred on through his entire journey. We needed one actual person, if even this guy just happened to be living in his imagination, helping him in his quest. Just so he's not alone the entire time.
Now, the voice is of course the most iconic aspect of Fred. Throughout the movie, the voice changes, and even drops at some points. Was that a conscious decision on your part. To sort of let the character let down his guard a little bit?
Lucas Cruikshank: It just happens to be how my voice changed. Fred's voice gets a bit different when he is frantic, and when he starts to freak out. And when he is really sad, like the big end-of-the-party scene. Fred's voice changes in accordance to his emotions.
You've got John Cena playing your dad in the film. Were you shocked and amazed at what a one-take wonder this guy is when it comes to acting?
Lucas Cruikshank: Yeah! He was so cool and down to earth. I expected him to be really scary. But he was really nice. It was great having him join the cast.
There is a little bit of a debate about Fred's actual relationship with Judy. At the end of this movie, it seems that they've actually been communicating a lot on the phone. That Fred hasn't made this whole thing up in his head. Will you explore that more in the future?
Lucas Cruikshank: From watching the movie, and even some of the shorts, I think we do hint that Fred and Judy used to be friends when they were younger. They do live next door to each other. So, maybe they were friends before kindergarten. Maybe they were friends when they were too young to care about popularity, and all of that stuff. When they grew older, Judy became, obviously, gorgeous. She became quite popular. But Fred stayed in this mindset of a six year old. He never grew up, so he didn't fit in with Judy anymore. Judy likes to maintain her popularity, but at the same time, she still has a soft spot for Fred. Because they did grow up together. At the same time, she doesn't let him know she has these feelings, because she doesn't want to be completely embarrassed by him.
As far as the shorts go, are you going to continue doing those? Or are you moving away from that?
Lucas Cruikshank: I'm not really sure. But I am going to lean towards not doing as many Fred shorts. I still want to do stuff on Youtube. Its such a great tool to use in communicating with your fans. But I might start posting videos of other characters that I am creating, and stuff like that. Every once in a while, I might post a Fred one. But I definitely want to evolve into other characters, and other projects as well.
You talk about creating more characters, and you said you've been guilting Nickelodeon into giving you your own sitcom. Do you think you'd do something like Amanda Bynes's All That and the Amanda Show? Where it's a sketch type series that allows you to create different characters from week to week?
Lucas Cruikshank: That would be cool. I would be fine with that. I grew up watching those shows, and I think it would be fun to have a show like that. Where I could show all of my different characters. That would be really fun.
Did you ever expect that you wouldn't be able to walk into a mall without seeing Fred's face on a T-shirt? Did you ever imagine that it would grow into such a big deal?
Lucas Cruikshank: No, I had no idea. Back when I started posting videos on-line, it was before the era of getting discovered on Youtube. That really wasn't something that happened. That hadn't occurred to anyone. That you could get picked up off the Internet. Being famous wasn't even on my mind. I was just doing it for fun. I didn't think it was possible that this could happen. It's been a surprise that the merchandizing and the movie have been so popular. All of that stuff? It's just so crazy.
What is going to pull you away from Fred? Will you be appearing in any other movies coming out soon?
Lucas Cruikshank: I am talking with people about being in certain movies. I am definitely working on that. There is nothing hard core, set in stone. But I am talking about joining other movies that are outside of this character.
Fred: The Movie comes to DVD October 5th.