This star plays not one, but two roles in The Spiderwick Chronicles!
Freddie Highmore plays twins Simon and Jared in The Spiderwick Chronicles. (Photo: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures)
Q: How challenging was it to play the role of twins, Jared and Simon, and using an American accent?
Freddie: The twins were quite challenging, but a good opportunity. It’s always nice to do different things for every film. You don’t want to be playing the same characters all the time, and the twins were completely different. It might have been double the work in some respects, but it was double the fun. I worked on the accent with a dialect coach. I tried to talk in the dialect as much as possible, even off the set, so it would become second nature to me. It’s important when you’re doing a scene to be able to concentrate on your emotions and not worry about your intrusive R’s or if your vowel sounds are too wide or not.
Q: Do you work with a dialect coach when you have to do an accent?
Freddie: Yes, we always have a dialect coach who’s there. And on Spiderwick, he was there throughout the day watching if Sarah [Bolger] or I made any slip-ups. It’s important not to concentrate on getting your voice right and stuff like that and just concentrate on the emotions. So you know if there’s someone there, then you don’t have to worry, and they’ll pick it up if anything goes wrong.
Q: Was it a lot harder than a normal role?
Freddie: In some ways it was a lot harder. I mean, you know you’ve got two characters to be playing and I guess in some ways it’s double the work to make sure they both get the same attention and care that the characters deserve to be shown. But it was good fun. It was great to work with both of them to do scenes when they’re both in there.
Q: Which twin do you relate to more?
Freddie: I’m not so sure. I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. Maybe Jared. Sometimes he’s smashing holes in walls, and I don’t think I’d be doing that. But he has got a drive about him to stand up for what he believes in and go and be brave enough to help his family and everyone would hope to have that inside them.
Q: Was that the reason you wanted to do this project? Had you read the books?
Freddie: I hadn’t read the books beforehand. But I read them as preparation for the movie. I think the twin thing really attracted me to it and the opportunity to do something different. I do think that’s important in the future—to carry on doing different genres perhaps, and different characters, would be great. I’d be lucky.
Q: If you came across a book that said DO NOT OPEN, would you be curious and open it anyway?
Freddie: I think so. Just by having the note there saying, “Don’t read it,” makes you wonder what’s inside; it makes you want to open it. If the note weren’t there, you’d probably throw it to the side and never think anything of it again. But you wouldn’t expect goblins and trolls.
Q: What are some of your favorites?
Freddie: I guess I like a bit of fantasy but my favorite book is Catcher in the Rye. I like the way it’s written.
Q: What do your friends think of all this?
Freddie: Obviously they’re interested in it and stuff but it’s not all we talk about. They’ve sort of seen me as the normal guy that I am really when I’m not filming or involved in the movies. My best friends I’ve had from before I started filming and they don’t treat me any differently now.
Q: What do for fun? Sports?
Freddie: I play soccer.
Q: Are you good?
Freddie: I’m not going to be professional!
Q: Do you like to write?
Freddie: Yeah, I do. I wrote a story over the summer actually for English. I do enjoy it, all kinds of writing. Not so much essays on literary works and stuff and discussing the authors’ views and stuff, but I enjoy creative writing.
Q: What was your story that you wrote this summer about?
Freddie: It was about two guys who go and travel to New York, which is funny because I’m back here now.
Q: Who do you most admire?
Freddie: My dad. My family. I admire them a lot. In the film world, Johnny Depp’s a great person.
Q: You’ve been in three films together, do you keep in touch?
Freddie: Yeah. We’ve become friends and he’s just such a really top guy. I’m lucky to have been able to work with him.
Q: Is he very funny? Is he moody? Is he a big brother kind of guy to you? What’s he like?
Freddie: He’s not moody. I mean, he’s a funny guy; we get along very well. The main thing you learn about him is he’s just normal. He’s so down to earth. If you hadn’t seen any of the films that he’d done, you wouldn’t know that he was someone famous because he doesn’t act like that. And I think that’s a great quality to have.
Q: Do you have a favorite subject?
Freddie: I like studying languages because I find them quite useful. I like French and Spanish. And also Latin, but that’s not as useful. Apart from the Vatican, there aren’t places to go and speak Latin. Even in the Vatican you would say something in Latin and no one would understand you. They’d be like, “What?”