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From Halfway to Hollywood

Springfield Middle School student gets callback for 'Wimpy Kid' movie

Springfield Middle School student gets callback for 'Wimpy Kid' movie

January 04, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

October

Saturday

Well, here I am in Hollywood. I got to visit Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum, the Hollywood Wax Museum and the Kodak Theatre, but the big event of the day was my audition for the lead role in "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."

Dad and I stood in line for about two hours before I got called in with four other boys to read lines in front of what I suspected was a two-way mirror. Of course, I didn't need the script. I already knew the lines from reading the book.

I must have impressed the powers-that-be because they let the other boys leave and asked to meet my dad. Then I was invited to a callback on Monday at the Twentieth Century Fox Studios.

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I took that as a good sign for my plan to one day be rich and famous.




HALFWAY - The thoughts above could have been an example of a journal entry from the life of Evan Torres.

The Springfield Middle School sixth-grader and his father, Bruce Torres, flew to Hollywood in October after Evan spotted an open casting call for the Twentieth Century Fox adaptation of the series of children's books. The first two books have been No. 1 New York Times bestsellers among children's chapter books.

The "Wimpy Kid" is Greg Heffley, a character to which Evan, 11, says he can relate.

They're both sixth graders who get bullied a lot and both have little brothers who annoy them at times.

Halloween is their favorite holiday. (Well, it's Evan's second favorite after Christmas.)

In addition to being able to relate to the lead character, Evan likes the series because it reads like someone's journal. The books aren't about a specific topic; just stuff that happens in Greg's life.

"Diary of a Wimpy Kid" was created by author Jeff Kinney. In his diaries, Greg - who prefers to call his diary a journal - writes about his daily life and illustrates his journal with cartoonish drawings.

Evan discovered the series visiting a Web site during fourth-grade reading time at Lincolnshire Elementary School.

"I'd never seen him read a book so fast," said his mother, Cassie Torres.

Evan's family wasn't sure at first that he'd be able to go to the audition. When the family learned about the audition, it was just three days away and his dad was in Georgia on business. But Evan has long wanted a career in the entertainment industry, perhaps as a writer, actor, director, producer or makeup artist for horror movies. So Bruce Torres flew home, picked up Evan and they took a red-eye to Hollywood.

"We knew it was just a whim," Bruce Torres said, but he said the family was in the position to be able to go, so they went for it. Evan's parents thought Evan would get to see a bit of Hollywood.

Cassie Torres even talked to her son before he flew west, to lower his expectations about getting the role, telling him to just enjoy the trip.

The open casting call for this movie, at Debbie Reynolds Studio in North Hollywood, Calif., meant anyone who got in line and met the criteria for the role got an opportunity to read a short paragraph and be taped, said Catherine Culbert, executive director of national publicity for Twentieth Century Fox.

An online notice about the casting call, at www.comingsoon.net, stated the studio was looking for boys, ages 11 to 14, who could handle dialog and have a flair for ironic comedy. Filmmakers were looking for a "bright, precocious and appealing young actor."

Bruce and Cassie Torres weren't expecting Evan to get a callback. Bruce Torres, who had booked tickets for a quick round-trip, had to extend their stay through Monday for Evan's callback.

The Torreses still don't know if Evan will get another callback.

Culbert said no decision has been made yet on casting for the character of Greg Heffley. In addition to holding the open casting call, film officials met with professional child actors.

Fox, which has the movie rights to the existing story books in the series, does not yet have dates for starting the filming or releasing the movie, Culbert said.

While the Torres family is trying to keep expectations low, they have had preliminary discussions about what would happen if Evan got the role and had to go to California for filming. Mom would go with Evan; Dad would stay home with brother Spencer, 8.

Bruce and Cassie Torres said their youngest son, whose interests lie in music, hasn't expressed any jealousy over Evan's opportunity and was even excited for his big brother.

Meanwhile, Evan is a little discouraged that he hasn't heard anything yet, but is still hopeful.

Either way, he should soon have some new "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" material to digest.

Evan is eagerly awaiting the release of the third book in the series, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw," which is scheduled to be released Jan. 13, according to Amazon.com.

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