Q and A from New Line:
On taking the role of Mike O’Donnell in 17 Again
I was in Toronto filming Hairspray, and the director, Adam [Shankman], approached me and said, “Hey, I’ve got this idea. It’s a movie called 17 Again and it would be like Big but reversed. And you would play Tom Hanks.” So after I made sense of that, it was “Sounds great!”
I could just go off and play a kid anywhere. The idea that drew me to this role was that it’s a different thing playing a 37-year-old-guy. That’s an area I have no experience in. I’ve had a first kiss, I’ve had awkward dates, I’ve had fights with my parents – all that kid drama. But one thing I have not done is gotten in a fight with my daughter, you know? So having nothing to go on for a lot of things was scary. That was really exciting to me.
On his role in 17 Again
I play Mike O’Donnell. Mike is not thrilled with the way his life has turned out. In the beginning he had all these opportunities, so many ways he could take his life, but in one day during high school that’s all stripped from him.
So he wishes he could go back to that day in his life where everything came crashing down. He wants to go re-live that and maybe play it differently. The idea of being able to go back to high school with the knowledge that you have as a 37-year-old – that excited me from day one.
I think most people can relate to Mike, wanting to go back and change a few things in their past. I mean, every day, I look back at things. Before I go to sleep, I think, “God, why did I say that today?” You wish you could go back and change those things.
On the challenges of going back to high school
The idea of going back to high school as an adult is incredible… until you actually get there! It’s like this crazy twilight zone of adolescent insecurities and people trying to grow up and figure out what they want to do with their lives.
It’s crazy in the movie. Nothing comes out right when you’re a teenager. You say the wrong thing. You just do. It’s a part of life. It’s a part of growing up.
One of the funny parts of this movie is that every year kids change – youth culture is changing all the time. Even now, when I go back to a high school campus, it really is like a frighteningly new place.
Questions & Answers Courtesy of New Line Cinema