Brady Noon On Finding The Voice Of Greg In Diary Of A Wimpy Kid – Exclusive Interview
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” based on Jeff Kinney’s book and series of the same name, follows Greg, a shy kid starting middle school. All he wants is some space to himself and to be seen as a grownup by his peers, but that proves harder than expected. Rawley, his dim but loyal best friend, proves to be both a confidant and a liability.
Brady Noon voices Greg, and as such, both stars in and narrates the movie. Noon started acting as a young child, tag teaming with his twin Connor to play Tommy Darmody in “Boardwalk Empire.” Brady went on to star in “Good Boys” and currently plays Evan Morrow on Disney series “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers.”
Looper spoke with Noon about playing Greg in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” He told us about how this gig was a dream come true, keeping Greg sympathetic, and twin shenanigans he pulled off with his brother.
A fan's dream come true
Were you a fan of the “Wimpy Kid” series?
Yeah, I was. Probably my whole elementary school, I was obsessed with the books. And I remember every day of the week we had a subject in school and one day it would be library, then Tuesday it would be gym class, and Wednesday it would be art. And I remember every day on library, all my friends and I would fight for the new “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” book if one came out or rereading the old ones. And that’s a good memory that I have of the original.
That’s kind of interesting because when you read a book, you obviously make up a character voice in your head and you are the character voice now. That voice in your head is what the character’s voice is. Is that surreal to you at all?
Especially when I was watching the movie, it kind of hit me and I was like, “Wow, that’s pretty cool. That’s my voice.” Because just being such a big fan of the books and the original movies it’s almost like a childhood dream come true, is the way that I put it.
The movie’s about an hour long and you speak for the majority of it, either voiceover or through Greg’s voice. How do you keep your voice preserved for that?
Honestly, I don’t really know. I just drink a lot of water and they’re very lenient with giving me breaks and asking if I’m alright and getting me lunch, meaning Disney+, of course. And yeah, I’ve always been good. No real problems losing my voice or anything like that.
Working with Jeff Kinney
Did you actually get to meet any of the voice actors in the process, or did you just find this all out at the end when you watched the movie?
When I heard everyone’s voice for the first time, it was when I was watching the movie, yes. I didn’t meet with anyone. We had all our own individual sessions, at least with me. I met Jeff Kinney, though. It was a bit scary at first, because he’s quite the icon in the … He created the whole franchise. He wrote the books that I grew up on and it was really cool meeting him and getting to work with him. I feel like that was probably the biggest highlight of the making part of it.
Tell me about your experience with Jeff. Does any one stand out?
Yeah! I kind of zone out and I kind of just power through it and I’ll just do my work. I’m not really thinking about anything else because I just get so into the character and I don’t really think about anything else other than that. And by the time I know it, we’ve been through a quarter of the script in a couple hours and they’ll be like, “Okay, that’s time. We’re done.” I was like, “What?” Jeff was quiet and everyone was quiet the whole time until the end. Jeff came on and was like, “That! Was! Perfect! That was so good!” And I was like, “Oh, thank you! Thank you so much! That’s so cool.”
Keeping Greg sympathetic
Greg is the protagonist and he’s, I think, at his core a good kid trying to do his best, but he also does a lot of things that are objectively bad. He makes a lot of decisions that hurt people and he should know will hurt people. How do you keep him sympathetic through all the bad things he does?
I try and always give it that forgiving tone. That’s kind of the approach that I took towards it because I don’t want him to be lost in his ways either. I want him to feel like he’s always trying to do the right thing, but he kind of doesn’t realize that he’s doing the wrong thing until he tries to make it better. And that’s the tone that I took with everything. Just not really mean, almost like a backhanded sort of remark or something like that. I wouldn’t always try and be mean ever with Greg.
You also get angrier as the movie goes on. There are certain parts at the end like with the cartoonists where you sound very angry when you’re talking about the librarian and the cartoon. How do you tap into that anger?
I’m not really too sure. I don’t have anything personally that I tap into, but I’d say just getting really into the character and kind of just putting myself in Greg’s shoes like how mad I would be. And I kind of just express my emotions that way and that’s kind of how I express my anger.
Do you relate to Greg in any specific way?
I would say so. I would say with the whole friendship aspect. I have a good buddy of mine who reminds me of Rowley and that’s kind of the person that I hang out with, my right-hand man. And yeah, I understand where he’s come from, like trying to figure out where he fits in and not too sure who his real friends are. So I feel like that sort of stuff I can relate to.
Working with Disney and twin shenanigans
This is your second project with Disney+, if I’m not mistaken. What’s it like working with Disney+ and this whole apparatus?
It’s awesome. I love being part of the Disney+ family. It’s a really cool experience. And my whole family’s been a big Disney family ever since I was young. So to be a part of such an amazing thing that’s happening is just a blessing.
Did you have any favorite Disney movies growing up?
Oh, man, yes, of course I did! Everything that was my favorite was made by Disney. I remember specifically my favorite Disney movie made when I was younger was Brother Bear because I do have a twin brother and I can kind of relate to that movie very well and something that me and my brother watch every year on our birthday. It’s kind of like our little thing.
Has your brother been supportive of all this?
Yes. My brother’s incredible. I love my brother. It’s everything I have. And as much as he teases me, I do love him and he’s always been there. I want him to be there for everything.
Since you have a twin brother, I’ve got to ask: Did you ever do that thing where you switch identities where you pretended to be the other one?
We have done it once in school. We did it once. On April Fool’s, we did it to his teacher. I sat in the back of the classroom. He sat in the front of the classroom and we kind of rehearsed it and we were like, “At nine o’clock on the dot we’ll both raise our hand and ask if we can use the bathroom in unison.” And the teacher did not catch on. She was like, “Yeah, you can go.” And we both stood up and left. And she was like, “Oh, I was just playing along. I was just playing along.” I was like, “No, I don’t think you were. I think you just did not genuinely know.”
Voice over, research, and what's next
I think this is one of your first real voiceover gigs. How does voiceover compare to acting for you, or live action acting, I should say?
Personally, I enjoy doing voice acting and I also enjoy doing live action, but just the fact that I get to wear my sweatpants and sweatshirt to work and do the voice is awesome. But at the same time, I kind of try and take the same approach as live action as I do with the voice. So if I’m running or jumping, I’ll do it in place and I’ll act it out. I kind of imagine that there’s a camera in the booth right in front of me and I still make up the same facial expressions and the same actions like I would in live action, just not in front of a camera, just in front of a mic.
Did you watch any of the previous movies while preparing for this or did you try to keep them out of your mind?
I watched some of the live actions just so I can get the voice in my head and the delivery of the live action, but my main inspiration were the books for this role. I read the first book over and over again and just tried to really put myself in Greg’s shoes again and try and put my own spin on the new Greg.
I think I’ve got time for one more question, which is: Are there any actors or directors you haven’t worked with yet that you really want to work with?
Yes. Wow. I’d definitely like to work with Tom Holland one day. I think as an actor, he’s incredible. And really anyone from “Avengers” and Marvel. I’m a big Marvel guy. Directors, George Lucas, and people like that are incredible. And Steven Spielberg, just guys like that, just legends, complete legends.
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is now streaming on Disney+.