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Behind the Scenes of

August 15 , 2006

Luke Benward
Luke Benward stars as "Billy" in New Line Cinema's How to Eat Fried Worms (Photo: Van Redin/New Line Productions)

Interviews by Marie Morreale

The new movie How To Eat Fried Worms, based on the award-winning book by Thomas Rockwell, is about Billy Forrester, a new kid in town who wants desperately to “fit in.” On his first day at school, the fifth-grader runs into all kinds of characters—a bully named Joe Guire and his not-so-nice friends; a girl named Erika Tanzy, who isn’t afraid to help her new pal; and those squirmy, wiggly worms!

Scholastic News Online had the opportunity to go one-on-one with cast members Luke Benward, Adam Hicks, Hallie Kate Eisenberg, Alexander Gould, and Ryan Malgarini. Keep reading to find out what they said—and be sure to catch the movie when it hits theaters on August 25!

Luke Benward (Billy)

Scholastic News Online: Tell us about your character, Billy.

Luke: Billy is a kid that moved from Louisville, Kentucky and he does not know anybody in his new town. At his other school he used to be popular and in his new school he isn’t. When he goes to a new school, he meets bullies who pick on him. [They dare] him [to] eat ten worms in one day! He has a very weak stomach, so he’s not happy [about it].

SN Online: What was the worst worm recipe in the movie?

Luke: Wow, that is hard. There were a lot bad ones in the movie. Probably the pig fat worm . . . I think it was cooked in lard and so it had fatty-stuff hanging off the edges and stuff. It was gross.

SN Online: What do you think kids should do if they are being bullied?

Luke: If there is a bully that is messing around with you, just go tell a teacher, or go tell your mom or dad.

SN Online: Had you read the book How to Eat Fried Worms before the movie?

Luke: I read it [when I was in] third grade.

SN Online: Can you tell us about one of your favorite books?

Luke: Eragon. I love that book.

SN Online: When you guys were hanging out on the set, what did you do to pass the time?

Luke: [I’d hang out with the other kids in a trailer] called the Green Room. It had X-Box and foosball, TV, movies, and stuff like that.


Hallie Kate Eisenberg
Hallie Kate Eisenberg stars as "Erika" in How to Eat Fried Worms. (Photo: Van Redin/New Line Productions)

Hallie Kate Eisenberg (Erika)

SN Online: What is Erika like?

Hallie Kate: She is a really strong character. Although she is picked on a lot by the other kids in her grade and her school for being extremely tall and lanky, she never lets it get to her and stays confident as herself.

SN Online: Would you like her as a friend?

Hallie Kate: On yes, definitely, I think that she is a very strong-willed character and a lot of people can learn from her.

SN Online: Did you become friends with the boys working on the movie?

Hallie Kate: Well, I had to start filming a little bit later than they had to, so they were all pretty good friends when I got there. Then, after the first three or four days, we all became like best friends . . . we were all one big group. It was so much fun. After we filmed we would hang out with each other, go swimming, and go watch movies.

SN Online: Have you or one of your friends ever had to deal with being bullied or teased?

Hallie Kate: My friend was once being bullied when we were in elementary school. I was there and I helped her out and I told her the teacher about it. We actually ended up becoming kind of friends with the kids [who were being mean]. We learned that they were kind of lonely in a way and they changed now and we are really good friends.

SN Online: What was the best part about working on the movie?

Hallie Kate: The best part about the movie was the relationships with all the other kids. I think that we are all going to be friends for a long time.


Adam Hicks (Joe)

SN Online: What was it like to play a bully?

Adam: [Playing] a bully was sort of weird for me, because I am not a bully. I am kind of the quiet kid at school and then they wanted me to push kids on the floor and people were scared when they looked at me and it was like, “Wow.” I see myself on screen and I look so mean and I never knew I could look like that.

SN Online: Have you ever known anyone like Joe?

Adam: I have seen it at school and I am usually the person who goes to stand up for the kid who’s being bullied. I am not a big kid, but I am big enough to stand up for the little kids.

SN Online: What would you tell a kid who is getting bullied?

Adam: My advice for kids who are getting bullied is to tell someone who is older than you. Just go up to a teacher. I have friends who have done that and the kids have stopped bullying them or they got in trouble. Just tell someone who is older than you before it gets out of hand and then they can take charge.

SN Online: Would you be Joe’s friend?

Adam: I would try to be friends. I wouldn’t just judge a book by his cover.

SN Online: Of the worms that you had to eat, what was the most disgusting recipe?

Adam: They said the worms tasted good and that’s a lie! They had this pecan recipe thing that was an edible worm—we ate about 30 of them a shot and we didn’t want another one or to see one again. At first it was good, but then after ten of them it wasn’t.

SN Online: When you were reading How to Eat Fried Worms did you think it would make a great movie?

Adam: I thought it was a cool book and I really liked it. We read it like four or five times as a class and then I just read it again. I thought it would be a cool movie, but I thought who in the world could think up a movie that only had to do with worms . . . Once you see the whole movie together with the music in the background, it is so cool.

Ryan Malagarini (Benjy)

SN Online: Describe your character, Benjy.

Ryan: Benjy is very hyper. He’s kind of like a yes-man to Joe, who is the main bully. Benjy is also the chef who cooks all the worms.

SN Online: Do the worms look like worms?

Ryan: When we cooked the worms they were totally fake and when we ate the worms they were actually edible worms. They looked real, but [some] were [made of] pistachio pudding. They were kind of gross, so I don’t know what was worse—the actual worms or the edible worms.

SN Online: You came up with different worm recipes in the movie; what was the grossest one?

Ryan: The grossest one I can think of was the worm at the Brown Toad, which is a restaurant where we cooked the worms. They were cooked in pig fat and dipped in [the vat] where you make french fries, and then it had liver oil all over it, so it looked like a giant french fry, a totally messed-up french fry. It was just gross.

SN Online: What was the funniest thing that happened on the set?

Ryan: It was at the Brown Toad with the french-fry worm. It was actually in a Chinese carton and Luke was supposed to tip it over and act like he was going to eat it. It wasn’t supposed to go into his mouth, because that would take special effects, so he was just supposed to tip it over and pretend. They were going to yell, “Cut!” after that. Luke tipped it up to his mouth and it actually went into his mouth. Everyone on the set started cracking up and Luke took the worm out of his mouth and started gagging . . .

SN Online: Do you like to read?

Ryan: I do like to read. Right now I am reading Tom Sawyer, which is one of my personal favorites. Reading is not like a movie. When you’re reading, it’s your own imagination and you can create your own picture. It’s not like watching a movie with a scene that’s already there and thought out for you. If you’re reading a book you can imagine it on your own and it takes you wherever you want to go.


Andrew Gillingham and Alexander Gould
Andrew Gillingham (L) stars as "Techno Mouth" and Alexander Gould stars as "Twitch" in How to Eat Fried Worms. (Photo: Van Redin/New Line Productions)

Alexander Gould (Twitch)

SN Online: You have been doing a lot of voice over characters like in Bambi 2 and Finding Nemo. Is it easier or harder than working live?

Alexander: It is kind of different. I like it because you don’t have to get wardrobe or the clothes and you don’t have to get hair and makeup done. You can just go in and do it. You can go in with sweats and a T-shirt and nobody would care.

SN Online: What is your character Twitch like?

Alexander: He is kind of crazy. This was a fun role to play because I am not at all like it. He is really kind of creepy. His hair in the movie [is] spiked up four inches high . . . just sticking up.

SN Online: Is he a good guy or a bad guy?

Alexander: He is a good guy in the film. He twitches a lot and he is kind of jumpy. He is a kind of guy that you would picture jumping around all the time and saying things over and over and over again. Like, “Hi, hi, hi!”

SN Online: This movie is based on a book. How do you choose what kind of book you’re going to read?

Alexander: Sometimes I go to the bookstore and look around. If I see one that has an interesting title, I will pick it up and look at the back of it and see what it is about. If it is interesting, I will get it. Sometimes, if I cant find anything, I will tell somebody at the bookstore that I loved Harry Potter and ask if they have any books that they can recommend for me to read.

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