KID REPORTERS’ NOTEBOOK
Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
Cardboard cutouts of two-headed monsters and other neon creations lined the red carpet. Everything was carefully arranged in the lobby of New York City’s Regal E-Walk Stadium so that the stars of Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life could greet the press and see the film that they had dedicated so much time to.
Based on the best-selling book series by James Patterson, the movie features several child actors. “Working with kids was a lot of fun,” said director Steve Carr.
Carr added that his connection to the main character, Rafe, drew him to Middle School. The film follows Rafe as he struggles to make friends at a new, rule-infected school led by a test-crazy principal.
During the making of the movie, the child stars experienced struggles of their own. Balancing school with an acting career was challenging, said Thomas Barbusca, 13, who plays Rafe's best friend Leo.
Legally, child actors are required to get three hours of schooling a day, on top of the responsibility of learning their lines. Luke Hardeman, who plays a student named Shon, said, “I literally had to drop out of regular school and become home-schooled.”
“It was difficult, but I got through it, thankfully,” said Griffin Gluck, 16, who plays Rafe.
The stars seem to have managed their schoolwork while the movie was being made, while forming lasting bonds of friendship. “Having a cast of people who are all really nice and really supportive is really cool and a great experience,” Gluck explained.
Alexa Nisenson, who plays Rafe’s younger sister, Georgia, described her nervousness at being the youngest kid on the set.
“All the other kids are ages 13 to 16, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to work," Alexa said. “I was nine at the time, so I was a little nervous. But I think we clicked.” Many of the young actors echoed Alexa's sentiment that the set became a family-like environment for them.
It was an experience that no one involved with the movie would forget, including Patterson, who served as a producer. “Of all the movies that have been made from my books,” he said, “this is my favorite.”