Miles Heizer is starting to sound as if this TV-actor thing is getting a little routine. Yeah, he's trading play lists with former Gilmore girl Lauren Graham. And his new show, Parenthood, just debuted on NBC the night before, but he'd already seen it a bunch of times, including a red-carpet movie-theater premiere.
And yeah, he's auditioning for some other things, but he hasn't booked anything yet.
Lest we think Heizer, 15, is getting jaded, when he was asked about the place of Parenthood in his career, he says, "This is easily the biggest thing I have ever done." The native of Greenville, in Muhlenberg County, has had guest appearances on some of the biggest series on television: ER, Cold Case and CSI: Miami. But Parenthood, which debuted March 2 and shows at 10 p.m. Tuesday nights, promises to put Heizer in living rooms across the country each week.
The series is loosely based on the 1989 Ron Howard movie of the same name, starring Steve Martin. The characters are different, and in press interviews Howard, an executive producer of the series, has said that whereas the movie was a comedy with dramatic parts, the series is a drama that is sometimes funny.
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Heizer plays Drew Holt, who has moved with his mother, Sarah (Graham), and sister Amber (Mae Whitman) from Fresno, Calif., to Berkeley, after his parents divorced. The breakup has left Sarah financially strapped and has forced her to move in with her parents (Craig T. Nelson and Bonnie Bedelia). They're also close, sometimes uncomfortably, to the rest of their extended family and their issues, including Sarah's commitment-phobic brother Crosby, (Dax Shepard) who discovers that he has a son from a long-forgotten tryst, and successful brother Adam (Peter Krause), who is dealing with his son's diagnosis with Asperger's Syndrome.
With a cast of 13 primary players and numerous supporting parts, Heizer had a quiet debut episode but one important scene: accepting life with mom after he tries to run home to his dad.
After she picks him up and Drew realizes that his dad doesn't want him back, Sarah embraces him and tells him she'll have to be enough for him now. Later in the episode, they share a wink that says he's coming around.
Heizer says that thus far, in filming episodes of the show, Drew has been a fairly quiet character. "They're showing him as kind of moody and sad," Heizer says from his family's new home in California. "There is kind of a big scene with a dance coming up."
With Parenthood, Heizer has had to ease into what many actors describe as the draining routine of series TV, although it hasn't taken too much of a toll. "It takes eight days to film an episode," he says. "Since I'm not in a lot of scenes, I don't have to go every day."
Heizer is tutored on set and says he gets a lot done in his three hours of school each day. On the job, life plays out a bit like it does on the show. He works a lot with Graham and Whitman, who had several prominent dramatic scenes on debut night, including getting busted for marijuana possession.
Heizer and Graham have been trading music; he turned her on to Canadian indie group Tegan and Sara and she introduced him to Talking Heads. "She's great," says Heizer, whose main awareness of Gilmore Girls was because his mother and sister are fans. "She doesn't talk about Gilmore Girls much. We're used to her referring to 'this show I was on.'" Heizer doesn't see a lot of the rest of the cast, but he says that working on familial scenes is like getting together with his extended family.
He gets home to Kentucky occasionally, around the holidays, and he makes a point of hitting favorite restaurants, including Chick-fil-a and Ramsey's. But he says, "most of my family really wants to come out here." While Parenthood began gearing up, Heizer says, he auditioned for some other projects that he could work on when the show isn't in production, but he hasn't booked anything. In 2007, he starred in the critically acclaimed but lightly seen drama Rails & Ties, starring Kevin Bacon and directed by Alison Eastwood, Clint's daughter. For now, he's focused on Parenthood.
"I hope it stays on, at least another season," Heizer says. "I really like the people on the show, and it's a lot of fun."
Now, that sounds more like a 15-year-old, and not a jaded one.