West Chester native Charlie McDermott stars in The Middle.
While Charlie McDermott maintains that the best actors are quiet, sensitive and shy, since 2009 the West Chester native and our Best Rising Star has played the anything-but-subdued Axl Heck on the ABC sitcom, The Middle. The role follows work on The Office and Private Practice, plus movie appearances in Disappearances, Frozen River and The Village, among others. MLT caught up with him in April, just a day before his 24th birthday and a week after finishing the fifth season of The Middle. This summer, he’ll spend a few weeks in Europe, guided only by concert dates and his sense of exploration. “I always wanted to do it, and it just seemed like the right time,” McDermott says of the trip, which he chose over two independent films and a play. “It’ll be me and my backpack, but I couldn’t do it if I didn’t have the security of the show.” Lucky for him, The Middle has been renewed for a sixth season.
MLT: How important is the stability The Middle has provided?
CM: It’s been a nice, good, steady gig. It’s been crazy to watch the rise of [the show]. When it took off, there were about 24 pilots [that debuted]. But now, only two or three of those shows have survived. I’m glad I didn’t know that then; I think I would’ve become stressed out.
MLT: Why has the show worked?
CM: We’re a single, relatable family. The content is almost too childish for adults, but too adult for children, so it somehow appeals to both adults and kids.
MLT: What’s it like playing Axl?
CM: He’s just a goofy, self-centered teenager. I don’t identify with Axl, but he’s been a lot of fun to play. He basically does what he wants and gets away with it. I show up and do what I’m told, which is very un-Axl-like. The goal is to make people laugh.