Jacob Hopkins – Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life
By: Lisa Steinberg
Q) It seems people have been loving your film Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. What kind of fan feedback have you been receiving?
A) People have been loving the movie. My friends who have seen it say that I kill it – no pun intended since my character is “Miller The Killer.” I really feel proud of myself. This is a very proud moment for me since this is my first big movie that I had a lead role in. It’s awesome. It’s exciting and I hope it continues!
Q) How did you get involved with movie?
A) It was definitely an interesting process. I originally went in for other roles. When I screen tested with Griffin [Gluck], I would put my arm around him and poke him during scenes. I would joke around with him and push him playfully. The director, Steve Carr said, “Man! He’s upbeat and really physical. I like that. He makes me think of Miller. Let’s put him in for Miller.” He really loved how I played the bully.
Q) How did the breakdown for Miller evolve after you took on the role?
A) I would say that they didn’t evolve it. I sort of added more to it. I adlibbed some lines because one thing is for sure – Miller always makes fun of Rafe’s last name “Khatchadorian.” He makes a lot of things up. I kind of felt like that would be a running gag. Sure enough, Steve liked how I improvised and come up with them and make fun of Rafe’s last name like when I’d say, “Hey, Crapadookian” or “Hey, Kickadorkian.” It was a running gag that Steve thought was awesome. Yes, Miller is a bully and there are a lot of them out there who are insecure and don’t’ want people to know that. Miller may be that kind of person, but he definitely doesn’t show it. That’s also what Steve said he loved about how I played Miller – I didn’t show that I could be put down. I always showed I was on top and the toughest guy around. It was easy to play the bully with Griffin because it felt like I was more playing around with him and not actually bullying him. It was fun in a sense though that I was the bad guy and was free to act the way I wanted.
Q) You and Griffin seem to have become fast friends from working together!
A) It wasn’t just Griffin. All of us really bonded on set. It was sort of like a second family because we spent so much time together. I was there for two months filming in Atlanta and two months filming with the same people you really develop a bond with them. I became really great friends with Thomas [Barbusca] and Griffin and they are still my friends today.
Q) What did you find challenging about playing Miller?
A) I actually really loved this role. I mean, it was challenging in a sense of how to say the lines. But, of course, every actor needs to work on their scenes. I really enjoyed this role. Playing the bad guy and acting is fun because, like I said, the bad guy doesn’t have any standards or rules to follow. He is free to do as he pleases. I just have this fun feeling being this bad dude. It’s really fun!
Q) You have a background in comedic roles. Is comedic timing something that has come naturally to you?
A) I would say comedy does come naturally to me because I really love comedy. I’ve always loved comedy and being funny. Comedy has always made me laugh and given me this sense of joy. I definitely embodied that in “The Goldbergs,” Middle School and “The Amazing World of Gumball.” I really like drama too, serious moments of action or when someone may have died and there needs to be a crying scene. I love both genres, but I definitely love comedy.
Q) When you do voiceover, it is about inflection and delivery. What do you enjoy most about this type of acting?
A) That is what I really love about voiceover – it’s not just your appearance. It actually has nothing to do with your appearance. In voiceover, your appearance is isolated and you get to embody a new life – like Gumball. In my human form, I’m blonde and tall – that is totally isolated. I get to embody this character. I get to inhabit this funny, goofy looking character and add different voices to it. If you were to talk to as Gumball in a normal human voice that would be a little strange since you have this cartoony voice. When you embody the character and talk in all of these crazy and zany voices it is just so much fun. I love voiceover!
Q) What have been your most memorable moments from filming “Gumball.”
A) I would say booking the role. I was so excited! It was so rewarding for me and I was so proud since I had worked so hard. It was a normal audition and they really liked what I did. They called me back and said, “Let’s see how he can handle maybe a snippet of an episode.” I did the snippet and then they called back and said, “Okay, he’s really good. Let’s see how he can handle recording a full episode.” I recorded at least three full episodes and I remember working so hard to get the character down to the bone. When I finally did it, they said I was Gumball and they wanted me. I felt so proud and I remember being so happy. It was so rewarding for me. I really love that moment!
Q) Will we get to see you again on “The Goldbergs” soon?
A) Yes, so for “The Goldbergs,” I’m not sure about it. I am hoping they will bring me back soon. I also have an animated series that is going to be coming out on my girlfriend Merit Leighton’s YouTube channel called “Hawaii Happii.” I play the lead – Plane Man – a superhero who dresses up like a plane. We’re really close to getting the first episode to air. We have to sync up some stuff and then we’re done. There are more episodes of “Gumball.” The fifth season is still airing. We just did our Halloween episode which was awesome. So, we’ll see what the future holds.
Q) What show would you most like to make an appearance on?
A) I have gotten into “The Walking Dead” recently. A lot of people have been telling me how far behind I am, but I binge watched it so I’m caught up! It kind of looks like it is coming to an end like the whole group is going to come to a faceoff with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) one day. But if I could be on “The Walking Dead” that would be awesome – like the lone survivor. That would be really cool. It would also be cool, voiceover wise, to be in an animae where I play the main character. Maybe an action sci-fi animae.
Q) You have done voiceover. You have done movies and TV. Is there anything else you would like to try your hand at in the entertainment industry?
A) Actually, Plane Man has me getting into a web series. I’m really excited about that! When I’m an adult I’ll be able to direct my own show. The future holds so many options. Being an actor, who started at the age of five, opens a variety of doors for me. It is just really exciting and I have all of these options. There is just so much I want to do with acting. I’m really excited to do something great.
Q) What did you take away from your experience working on the film Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life?
A) Middle School is about Rafe who has trouble dealing with authority. He goes to a new middle school where Miller the Killer (the bully) goes and I have to give him an even tougher time. Towards the climax where we all find out that Rafe is the one behind all of these pranks. I eventually team up with him thinking he’s this bad guy. I thought he was this scrawny little dude, but he’s awesome. So, I want to hang out with him and be his friend so we team up to take down Principal Dwight (Andy Daly). I would say that I learned more how to act as a bad guy because I’d never really had the big bad guy role. I played Landru in “Game Shakers,” a series for Nickelodeon, who was a pretty bad dude. This was a bigger experience because this was a big movie. I guess I learned a lot from that.
Q) Is there anything else you want to tease about what is to come on “The Amazing World of Gumball?”
A) We just had our Halloween special. You will definitely see a lot more shenanigans with Gumball. There will be new characters and I’m really excited about that. I can’t say anything about the new characters, but there will be some good ones and some bad ones! You’ll just have to wait and see.