Charlie McDermott spreads acting wings
It’s nearly 8 p.m. on a recent Wednesday night and Charlie McDermott isn’t home in West Chester, Pa., with his parents watching the newest episode of ABC’s “The Middle,” in which he stars.
Instead, McDermott, 22, is doing something that he couldn’t do just a few years ago: draw a crowd.
The baby-faced actor, who plays a high schooler on the popular family sitcom “The Middle,” is at Klondike Kate’s Restaurant & Bar in Newark, holding court at a casting call in search of college-aged extras for his new indie film “ImagiGARY,” which McDermott directs, co-wrote and stars.
McDermott, who attended Salesianum School in Wilmington for two years before leaving for California to pursue his acting career, says he hardly ever gets recognized when he’s at his part-time home in Burbank, Calif.
But when he comes home to the East Coast, he’s often spotted as mop-topped Axl Heck of “The Middle,” the goofy teenage son of a middle-class family with Patricia Heaton (”Everybody Loves Raymond”) and Neil Flynn (”Scrubs”) playing his parents.
“It’s definitely weird being recognized a lot,” says McDermott, whose show has its season finale Wednesday at 8 p.m. on ABC with returning guest star Norm MacDonald. “Out in California, I can go months without anybody saying anything. But when I come home, I consistently get recognized every time I go out.”
Earlier this year, “The Middle” was picked up for syndication by both ABC Family and The Hallmark Channel with episodes debuting in late 2013, allowing “The Middle” fans to watch McDermott grow up in perpetuity. Last week, ABC announced the show would return for a fourth season at its regular time slot, an hour before the Emmy favorite “Modern Family.”
Syndication should mean more exposure — and more money — for the young actor, who snagged the role after receiving a nomination for an Independent Spirit Award in 2008 for his performance in “Frozen River,” which also resulted in an Academy Award nomination for its star, Melissa Leo. McDermott has also had small roles in films like “Hot Tub Time Machine” alongside John Cusack and other television shows like “The Office” and “Private Practice.”