With his quirky, yet naturalistic performances on the hit comedy series "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox, 2000-06) and in several films, child actor Erik Per Sullivan shone alongside many of Hollywood's g...
You know those moments when you watch Breaking Bad’s Walt murder, toss pizzas, and do other generally terrible things and you wonder, how in the world is this the same man who played Malcolm in the Middle’s goofy dad Hal?! Well, as it turns out, seeing Bryan Cranston alongside the rest of the cast six years after the FOX comedy wrapped is still unsettling.
But thanks to former child star-turned-fictional child spy-turned-race car driver Frankie Muniz, we got to see the dysfunctional family (mostly) all grown-up. And perhaps it’s the fact that, from certain angles, Muniz looks like he could be Aaron Paul’s long-lost, shorter cousin, but looking at the family reunion pic, I can’t help but feel the urge to protect Erik Per Sullivan’s Dewey from paternally forced tequila shots. [Shudder]
Below, see new pics of the cast, which includes Cranston, Muniz, Jane Kaczmarek, Christopher Kennedy Masterson, Justin Berfield, Sullivan, and James and Lukas Rodriguez.
Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard
[Image Credit: Instagram/Frankie Muniz]
Bryan Cranston: “I Know How Easy It Is to Lose Control and Kill Someone
TV Tidbits: Bryan Cranston Trades New Mexico For New York
Breaking Bad Finale Recap: Gliding All Over
Edward and Connie Sumner (Richard Gere and Diane Lane) live a fairly idyllic life in the suburbs with their 8-year-old son Charlie (Erik Per Sullivan). Even though they have a seemingly happy if somewhat mundane marriage Connie is drawn to a gorgeous French rare book dealer Paul (Oliver Martinez) who she literally crashes into one day on the streets of Manhattan. Their passionate affair opens up a whole world of sexual possibilities for her. Yet it quickly spirals into an obsession for Connie a cycle she knows she has to break before it destroys her family--and her sanity. Unfortunately she makes this decision too late; Edward has already discovered her infidelity. Rather than going straight to Connie a tormented Edward confronts Paul and the meeting unleashes a fury in Edward he didn't know he was capable of. Now Connie and Edward must face the consequences of their actions but can they do it together?
A three-character piece is always a tough framework for a movie because you have to rely heavily on the acting rather than on the action. Luckily for Unfaithful everyone shines. Gere veers off his usual path as Edward a man trying desperately to hold onto his wife. He sheds that cocky attitude he likes to infuse in his other characters and digs deep to find other emotions. Gere doesn't quite match up to Lane though. An underrated actress Lane comes alive in this film her performance is unlike anything we've seen from her before. Even as she is breaking the vows of her marriage she does it with such an elegant mixture of pleasure and guilt--and we don't hate her for it. She's too real. Connie's first love scene with Paul is incredibly powerful and it's framed by Lane's reaction to it--she sits on the train remembering every detail of the encounter. It's a brilliant scene. This may be jumping the gun but Lane could quite possibly snag an Oscar nomination for her performance--and you heard it here first. As the third piece in the puzzle Martinez (Before Night Falls) does a nice job as Paul full of youth and bravado--just like a good lover should be. Too bad things don't end well for him.
Plain and simple director Adrian Lyne knows how to make a great movie about sex. No make that steamy sex. But the sex he tends to outline in painstaking details usually comes at great costs as in his films 9 ½ Weeks Fatal Attraction and now Unfaithful. The film is definitely one of his best allowing more of a maturity--a reality--to shine through than in any of his other films. Lyne loosely bases it on a 1968 French film La Femme Infidèle exploring how a relationship can be affected by deception and guilt. The story written by Alvin Sargent (Ordinary People) expertly shifts from Connie's perspective to Edward's and never falls into pat Hollywood scenarios. This isn't about sex and murder; it's about two people who are faced with what they have done and how they find redemption in each other. Lyne never veers from that idea. Most importantly Unfaithful will hit a chord with many people because it can happen to anyone of us at any time.
A family headed for a weekend in the backwoods is stranded when a wounded deer jumps in front of their car and sends them into a ditch. A posse of threatening rednecks appears and the ringleader Otis (John Speredakos) shoots the wounded deer point blank as the child in the car looks on. This is how the filmmakers establish Otis as the bad guy--and this will also create dramatic tension later between Otis and the Wendigo monster so you never quite know which one's actually terrorizing the family throughout the film. Once it's painfully clear who the bad guy is the trouble begins in earnest. When dad George mom Kim and son Miles finally arrive at the country house where they're staying they realize that someone's been shootin' up walls and windows. By now everyone in the theater knows it must be Otis. He certainly reappears soon enough--and now the big mean deer killer "knows where we live!" You bet he does Miles and he's watching your parents have sex right now. But that just makes him a pervert--not a psycho killer. Or does it? You'll spend the rest of this nightmare movie waiting to find out the answer to this and other compelling questions. Like what the hell is a Wendigo anyway?
When little Miles' head first appears in the back seat of the car you can't help but gasp. It's Dewey--oops Erik Per Sullivan--with hair and playing about three years younger than he looks like he really is. Yes Malcolm in the Middle fans your dear hamster-toting pal has finally hit the big screen. The filmmakers probably told him that he'd be the next Haley Joel Osment: "Wendigo is the next Sixth Sense. You just have to be in it!" Poor kid. It's not and he didn't. Still he does well enough with material that calls for him to do little other than look vacant and cry. Patricia Clarkson as Kim and Jake Weber as George are vacuous and their performances utterly forgettable. Of course the utter crappiness of the script doesn't help and since they have most of the lines they come off the worst.
There's a certain '80s charm to the wintry look of this movie which is probably more to director of photography Terry Stacey's (Spring Forward Trick) credit than to director Larry Fessenden's. Credit Fessenden who also wrote and edited and designed the Wendigo creature with well the Wendigo mostly. Because the sheer stupidity of this completely non-frightening creature pretty much nails exactly why this movie is as awful as it is. The Wendigo looks kind of like a deer standing on its hind legs with um hands. Yeah that's right. Hands. The creature might be the stuff of Miles' nightmares--there's certainly that possibility--but surely it should be at least a little scary. It's a joke as it's incarnated here. This is also the case with any number of scenes that are supposed to be scary but just aren't: at Otis' place the hangin' deer meet is supposed to spook ya; it doesn't. Dad and Miles chop wood with an axe? Come on. Chopping wood is only a frightening event if your daddy slices his leg open with a chain saw. When George falls off the back of a sled leaving Miles to torpedo down the hillside and later flee on foot as a smoke-thing (Wendigo spirit perhaps?) roils after him you're not frightened. You just want to cry "Run Dewey run!" The biggest joke is the ghostly Native American guy who appears at key moments (and once in a Quickie Mart) never speaks but manages to deliver voiceovers like "Wendigo is a mighty powerful spirit…part wind part tree part man part beast shape shifting." He also gives Dewey--oops Miles--the little carved statue that will play a key role in the plot's twist.
Played the son of a embattled couple in "Wendingo"; screened at Sundance
Cast in the holiday comedy "Christmas with the Kranks"
Raised in Milford, Massachusetts
Had featured role in "Unfaithful"
Cast as the youthful incarnation of the title character in "Joe Dirt"
Joined the ensemble cast, including Chace Crawford and Ellen Barkin, in the drama thriller "Twelve"
Had a supporting role in "The Cider House Rules" as sickly orphan Fuzzy
Was a regular on the acclaimed Fox sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle", playing Dewey, the titular character's strange younger brother
Had a guest role on the psychiatric hospital-set "Wonderland" as the son of Dr. Robert Banger (Ted Levine), a forensic specialist in a custody battle
With his quirky, yet naturalistic performances on the hit comedy series "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox, 2000-06) and in several films, child actor Erik Per Sullivan shone alongside many of Hollywood's greatest talents before he had even reached his teens. After appearing as an extra ate age five in the sci-fi blockbuster "Armageddon" (1998), Sullivan won an open audition for a speaking role in the Academy Award-winning drama "Cider House Rules" (1999). His touching death scene, opposite film legend Michael Caine, ensured that there was not a dry eye in the theater. It was, however, his role as the oddball youngest brother on the rambunctious family comedy "Malcolm in the Middle" that would earn the young actor a place in the hearts of TV fans for years to come. During the course of the show, his Dewey transform from being the perpetual target of his older brothers' shenanigans, to a master manipulator, whose intelligence rivaled that of his brainy sibling, Malcolm (Frankie Muniz). Sullivan kept busy throughout his tenure on the show with work on projects that included the films "Joe Dirt" (2001), "Unfaithful" (2002), and the beloved animated family adventure "Finding Nemo" (2003). Even after the inevitable end of "Malcolm," Sullivan positioned himself for future success when he enrolled as a theater student at the University of Southern California in 2009.<p>Sullivan was born on July 12, 1991 in Worchester, MA to parents Fred, a restaurateur, and Ann, a Swedish immigrant who helped teach her son to speak fluent Swedish at a young age. Other early interests for the only child included studying the piano and saxophone, as well as earning a first-degree black belt in tae kwon do while growing up in the Massachusetts town of Milford. After graduating from Milford Catholic Elementary School, Sullivan attended the private Catholic boarding school, Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket, RI, before transferring to New Hampshire's renowned Phillips Exeter Academy for his junior year. By this time, however, the talented youngster had already begun his notable acting career. At the age of five, Sullivan's dad took him to an open casting call for a film in preproduction. This led to his feature debut with an uncredited appearance as a little tike holding a toy rocket ship in the Michael Bay-directed disaster epic "Armageddon" (1998), starring Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck.<p>Clearly enjoying the experience, the Sullivans answered another open casting call and managed to secure the then-seven-year-old a speaking part in the film adaptation of John Irving's best-selling novel "Cider House Rules" (1999). Preternaturally devoid of the self-conscious precociousness so common among his contemporaries, the neophyte child actor greatly impressed audiences with his performance as the sickly orphan, Fuzzy. Also impressed was author and screenwriter Irving, who described Sullivan's turn as "a gift to the film," in which the innocent, bright-eyed youth, suffering from under-developed lungs, tragically passes away, despite the ministrations of his guardian, Dr. Larch (Michael Caine). While it was Caine who won an Oscar (his second) for his supporting role in the film, many felt he had ample competition from the diminutive Sullivan each time they shared the screen.<p>More auditions for Sullivan followed, and with only his third acting credit, he would land the role for which he would be forever connected in the dysfunctional family sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox, 2000-06). Cast as Dewey, the youngest son of the Wilkersons - although their surname was never actually spoken during the series run - Sullivan's character was initially on the receiving end of his older brothers' (Frankie Muniz and Justin Berfield) nasty pranks. That began to change in later seasons, when it gradually became clearer that Dewey was not an introverted oddball, but rather, a highly-intelligent iconoclast, who eventually began to outwit his genius sibling, Malcolm. Getting its start as a mid-season replacement, "Malcolm" became a ratings hit for much of its seven-year run, making a star of titular lead Muniz, but also opening doors for most of its core cast members. Just as that long-running series was hitting the air, Sullivan also made another small appearance in the pilot episode of the medical drama "Wonderland" (ABC, 2000), as the child of psychiatrist Dr. Robert Banger (Ted Levine). However, in stark contrast "Malcolm," the reception to "Wonderland" was dismal enough to earn it cancellation after a mere eight episodes.<p>With his comedy series enjoying ratings success on the small screen, Sullivan took on a much darker project with a role in the psychological horror film "Wendigo" (2001). Written and directed by low-budget horror auteur Larry Fessenden, the movie was seen through the eyes of Miles (Sullivan), a young boy shaken by the increasing instability of his parents' (Jake Weber and Patricia Clarkson) marriage, and an ill-defined terror lurking in the woods outside the family's remote cabin. That same year, on the opposite side of the cinematic coin, was the low-brow David Spade comedy "Joe Dirt" (2001), in which Sullivan portrayed a youthful version of the titular trailer trash protagonist. Repeating the trick, he played another younger iteration of a character - this time Jerry Stiller's Arthur, the eccentric dad of Carrie Heffernan (Leah Remini) in a 2002 episode of the Kevin James sitcom "King of Queens" (CBS, 1998-2007). Exceptionally busy for a preteen juggling both school and a hit series, Sullivan managed to fit in a performance as a son caught in the crossfire of his parents' (Richard Gere and Diane Lane) dangerously disintegrating marriage in "Unfaithful" (2002).<p> Next, Sullivan had the privilege of working on one of the most beloved animated films when he voiced Sheldon the seahorse in the Disney/Pixar Studios undersea classic, "Finding Nemo" (2003). The following year, he played Dan Aykroyd's son in the holiday family comedy "Christmas with the Kranks" (2004), starring Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis as a couple whose plans to skip the yuletide festivities go horribly awry. With work on his successful weekly series winding down, Sullivan lent his voice to director Luc Besson's live-action/animation hybrid fantasy "Arthur and the Invisibles" (2006). After "Malcolm" had wrapped for good, his schedule was freed up enough to accommodate a starring role as the title character in the biopic "Mo" (2007), an independent drama about a boy determined not to let his life-threatening disability get in the way of living as so-called normal life. A few years later, the 19-year-old Sullivan was enjoying his theater studies at the University of Southern California and still managing to make brief appearances in productions such as the little-seen Joel Schumacher crime drama "Twelve" (2010).
Sullivan is fluent in both Swedish and English.
Author and screenwriter John Irving on Sullivan's "The Cider House Rules" performance: "He was a gift to the film. The day after we shot Fuzzy's death scene I saw Erik and his mother by the caterer's truck at the old state hospital. 'Mr. Irving!' he called to me. 'Did you see me die?'
"'Yes! You died very well, Erik.' I told him. He beamed. That was how he played Fuzzy, the dying boy beaming." --quoted in Los Angeles Times, December 26, 1999