Interview: Nathan Kress Talks About 'The Game of Your Life'
In this new TV movie, Nathan moves from cool to being a nerd
Best known as the teen hunk Freddie on the Disney show "iCarly," Nathan Kress portrays a nerdy math genius in the upcoming Procter & Gamble and Walmart newest Family Movie Night offering, "Game of Your Life" on Friday, December 2, 2011 at 8e/7c on NBC.
This film for the whole family tells the story of college freshman Zach Taylor (Titus Makin Jr., "Glee" and "A Cinderella Story: Once Upon A Song"), who lands a scholarship to the prestigious Digital Institute of Game Design, led by billionaire gaming icon Marcus Bentton (Tom Nowicki, "The Blind Side").
His future will be promising if he can pass the infamous freshmen project that eliminates more than half of the class within the first three months. "Game of Your Life" underscores the importance of loyalty, family and friendship as Zach teams up with three other college students who will experience real-life challenges that threatens their victory in the virtual world.
Zach's design team includes determined group leader Sara Ramirez, (Dana De La Garza, "Knight Rider") and his brilliant, yet socially awkward, roommates, Phillip Reese (Nathan Kress, "iCarly") and Donald Wallace (Adam Cagley, "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" and "Good Luck Charlie"). Their project is based on the choices we make and involves the entire campus in a quirky new social interactive game.
With his widowed father in financial trouble, Zach decides to accept an invitation to do some freelance game design, something forbidden to early freshmen, which stretches him to the point of exhaustion, threatening his team's success.
With nowhere else to turn, he confides in Professor Abbie Lambert (Lea Thompson, currently on "Switched at Birth" and best known for "Back to the Future," and "Caroline in the City") and is forced to make a decision that will affect his future and the lives of everyone around him.
Nathan Kress, who plays one of Zach's teammates, Phillip Wallace, has been acting and modeling since he was three. Appearing in such popular TV series as "House M.D.," "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" and "Drake & Josh," he landed the role of Freddie Benson in the hit Nickelodeon TV series "iCarly."
Phillip is nothing like Freddie, a character Kress has played since 2007. In "Game of Your Life" he portrays a socially challenged programming genius who dreams of being a game designer and is committed to his team and their project.
Was this a different role for Nathan Kress?
"Phillip was really different from anything I've ever done before," he stated. "By now 'Freddie' and I have gotten to be so similar that, by substitution, it was hard for me to be that way, too.
"It's the first time in several years that I've been able to play a very different character for more than just a week as a guest star on another show. It was really cool to be someone different - and a math genius - which was really fun."
"A lot of it had to do with how literal and simplistic Phillip is. He takes everything at face value. As Donald says, 'He's irony challenged.' He takes everything completely seriously. Being in that mindset was very different. When we would improvise I couldn't think how I would reply but how someone who takes everything literally and seriously would reply."
In the story, Phillip is almost inseparable from Donald Wallace (Adam Cagley), the team's art director and in-house comedian. From their very first scene, the chemistry Nathan and Adam was evident. In fact, all four of the young leads seemed to work well together.
"The chemistry between all four of us." Kress began to explain their chemistry and then shifted to how their relationships started.
"The interesting thing is that none of us had ever met each other. I met Titus in the airport when we were both flying to Atlanta to film the movie. I met Dana in the elevator in the Hotel on the way down to our video game tutorial session. And then I met Adam in the van while we were going to learn how video games were made.
"So we all just hit the ground running and fortunately, everybody had personalities that just got along with each other and we were all nerds and dorks and everyone got along awesome."
When talking about the scenes that he had with Adam Cragley, Kress stated, "Most of the give-and-take between Nathan and Adam was spontaneous.
"All the back-and-forth stuff was, as far as I know, completely improvised. Some of it was guided; our director would come up to us and say, 'Be sure you say this and see how the other person reacts.'"
In another difference from the character Freddie, Phillip doesn't get the girl.
"Yeah! Dana's character, Sara, is a little bit out of my league and you can tell when he and Donald are just flabbergasted and all we can make are just awkward sounds. I don't think Phillip is ready for the girl thing quite yet."
"Game of Your Life" premiers Friday, December 2 at 8e/7c on NBC. So, what would Nathan like families to take away from the movie?
"The whole film centers around the choices we make and how they affect other people. When Zach is faced with a decision that could greatly benefit him and his dad and his life back home but it would hinder, and very much put in danger, the academic lives of his teammates who he made a commitment to.
"It's all about the choices he makes and the people he meets along the way who try to affect him one way or the other. It may not always happen according to those terms, but it is something deal with at all times. It's important to follow the right thing and the commitments that we've made."
When not busy with work and school, Nathan devotes much of his free time to charitable causes including Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Starlight Children's Foundation and Youth With A Mission (YWAM).
P&G and Walmart Family Movie Night films have been welcomed into millions of homes across America since "Secrets of the Mountain" first aired on April 16, 2010. In addition to "Field of Vision," "Who is Simon Miller?" and "Game Time: Tackling the Past" the first five movies in the franchise, "Secrets of the Mountain," "The Jensen Project," "A Walk in My Shoes," "Change of Plans," and "Truth Be Told," are all currently available on DVD.
For more information you can visit www.familymovienight.com or www.facebook.com/familymovienight.
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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