So first, the movie you have is a lot of fun. It’s very cute. I had a great time watching it.
Ah, thank you very much. I’m just meeting just now the people who have seen the film, and it’s really exciting to get that kind of feedback. I’m glad you liked it.
Tell me if I have my accounting right. You have, in the “Wimpy Kid” series, 16 mainline books, a spinoff, four live action movies, a musical, this, and a potential sequel. How do you keep going?
Yeah, it’s crazy. COVID has helped me keep going really, because when there are times of stress or big things are happening in the world, I tend to write. That’s how I kind of express myself and deal with those kinds of problems. So I’ve been my most productive during these past two years.
The movie follows the plot of the first book pretty closely, but there’s little changes here and there. And the biggest change is you mentioned social media, you mentioned smartphones, you mentioned not carrying cash in there. How did you find a way to integrate these new issues all while keeping the core of the story there?
Yeah. I tried to go about it with a really light touch because I want these stories to feel really timeless. And so I thought to myself, “Okay, 20 years from now, what are going to be the issues that kids have?” I think that parents are still going to have to decide, “When do you give your kid a cell phone?” Obviously, social media is going to still be around and people aren’t going to be carrying cash. So we tried to keep a really light touch because we want these things to be relatable. And we want a grandfather [or] a grandmother right now to watch the movie and feel like this could have happened to them too.
The movie is also kind of claustrophobic. It’s about wanting to find space, often physically. How do you go about making things claustrophobic in such an animated environment?
The story is a really small story if you think about it. In fact, the story is so small that half the kids at Greg and Rowley’s school probably don’t even know that it happened. And I think that’s something that’s fun about this relationship between Greg and Rowley is that it is kind of claustrophobic. It’s a little uncomfortable how claustrophobic it is, and Greg is trying to define who he is as a person. So that’s the challenge of this story is to figure out how to keep this relationship together while still carving out space for yourself.