“iCarly” star Nathan Kress sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In this newest episode, Kress talks about how he got the role of Freddie after a chance appearance on “Drake & Josh,” his initial reaction to an “iCarly” reboot, his biggest challenge as an actor, and much more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Nathan Kress –
On how he got the role of Freddie on the original “iCarly” from a chance appearance on “Drake and Josh”:
“Yeah, so I got that bit part on ‘Drake and Josh.’ Essentially, the character was just a little boy, the younger brother of the main guest star for that episode. You know, that guest star was having a birthday party. The little brother invited Megan, played by Miranda Cosgrove, to the party because he had a crush on her. And the whole episode was just me trying to flirt with her in various ways and getting shot down every time. And while we were shooting that episode, somewhere along the way, I got brought over to sit and talk with some Nickelodeon executives. And I didn’t know what for. I thought it was kind of odd that I was just, like, this little kid who came in to do a bit part. And I think I told the studio teacher about it. And she went, ‘Oh, well, yeah, they have a new show that they’re talking about doing. And I wonder if they were, you know, like, wanting to talk to you just to get a sense of you for that.’ And I didn’t really think much of it. It had been a while later that I got the audition for the ‘Untitled Miranda Cosgrove Project.’ And I figured it must have had some kind of relation. But it wasn’t like I got fast tracks. I auditioned just like everybody else. Actually, the audition, I didn’t think was going to go well at all because they did that classic thing that every actor loves, where there’s multiple scenes for the audition, but then you get in and they say, ‘Actually, we’re only just going to have you do the first scene,’ which is their code for saying, ‘We don’t want to waste our time on you because we don’t think that you’re right for this, but we have to be respectful and at least let you audition.’ So that happened. And I was sad. But then I did the first scene. And then they said, ‘You know what, go ahead and do the second one, too.’ And that is just the ultimate victory, when you know you’ve won them over in the room. And then it progressed on from there, I got the callback, had the screen test, and went on. And then, ultimately, the character that I played on ‘Drake & Josh’ was essentially a prototype for Freddie to the point that he was so similar to Freddie with wardrobe and everything else that they ended up cutting that character from that episode of ‘Drake & Josh,’ because they didn’t want people to get confused at this dorky little kid who was flirting with Miranda Cosgrove. So I unfortunately was cut out of that episode.”
On whether he embraced the idea of an “iCarly” reboot immediately:
“Definitely hesitated. Because no one likes a reboot. You know? When you think, ‘Reboot, rehashing, just exuding some dead property and trying to shake the dust off and put some gimmick or shtick in there and retool it for the next generation.’ People try it a lot. Sometimes it works. But a lot of the time, whether it’s good or not, people like to dump on it. I don’t know, it’s almost a cliche that people haven’t even bothered to try to get rid of. To just say, ‘Oh, the sequel, it’s just never as good.’ And especially for something like this that was so beloved by so many people. And especially – you know, when you’re an adult, and you loved something, as a kid, you already have a very romanticized memory of what that thing was. And it’s really scary to take a property like this, that was so loved, and try to do it again. Because I could already see the comments, people saying, ‘How dare you ruin my childhood like this.’ You know, to take this thing that was once great and just try to smush some new bits onto it and do the same thing again. So I was very hesitant. At the beginning, I was worried that we were going to, you know, really try to make it a show where we were, you know – because ‘iCarly’ was really breaking new grounds in the beginning and being very internet-focused. It was right when social media was kind of becoming a thing. It was right when video content creators were a thing. And I was worried that it was just gonna become this show where we were trying to get a bunch of influencers on it. And YouTubers and people who weren’t actors. You know, people who make funny content, but people who don’t act, and who it would come across as stilted and clunky to just have this constant stream of people in an effort to gain viewers. As far as I know, that was never really a part of the creative, but that was something that, when they first brought it up, I was like, ‘Oh, no. Are they going to try to do this thing?’ So there was definitely some concerns for me. But all of that was allayed when they explained to me what the concept of the show was and what they were trying to do. It wasn’t just, ‘We’re going to take all these people and keep it on Nickelodeon. It’s going to be for the next generation of kids. And we’re just going to figure out how to cash in.’ You know, it was saying, ‘No, we’re going to take this universe, completely deconstruct it, and retool it to grow alongside the generation that were kids back in the day.’”
On transitioning “iCarly” to an older audience:
“I definitely think there’s been jokes that we’ve had to kill, because someone will say, ‘Oh, no, now we can’t say that, because you wouldn’t know it, but this actually either means something else, or this is, you know, offensive to a very specific group. And we don’t want to, you know, we don’t want to offend anybody.’ And even actually, one of our show runners said that, in the writers’ room, they kind of have a rule where, if there’s a joke that is offensive to a single writer, the joke is out. You don’t have to explain it, you don’t have to tell them why. If it’s no good, then it’s not going to make it into the script. And generally, that catches a lot of things. And our goal, ultimately, is to make it as broadly appealing as possible and not alienate any of our fan base. We want to bring people in. And so I think, ultimately, as long as you can make good comedy without hurting anybody’s feelings – which is totally possible – I think you should, you know? I don’t want anyone to feel unsafe, or attacked when they’re watching the show. So I think by and large, that’s an important thing that we’ve tried to espouse this time around. Just making sure that we are as universally accessible as possible. And still within that, the tenor of the show has definitely changed just in the fact that we’re now tackling adult situations. That’s where we kind of have more free rein now. We’re not a show for kids. So we don’t have to do very obscure double entendre, at best, you know? We can just talk about stuff. So that has opened up the horizons quite a bit just to be able to expand out the comedy and, you know, it’s not raunchy, like, it’s still designed where young people can still watch it. Probably not kid kids, but… This isn’t TV-MA. You know, we’re still trying to appeal to the broadest possible audience so that the kids who are watching the old show, who are just starting to age out of it, have a new hunk of content to appreciate that’s not total shock-and-awe on their teen minds.”
On his most challenging moments as an actor:
“I think the most difficult part on the acting side has always been tackling those Carly-Freddie scenes. They have the most nuance, and they require the most thought, because we don’t want to telegraph anything, especially because we don’t know what’s going to happen. So we need to make sure that we’re toeing the line and plotting the right course to leave things open. But at the same time, we don’t want people to know anything, but we want them to question everything… So it’s a balance. And you know, we don’t really know which way it’s going to go. Maybe it’s a short-term arc, maybe it’s a long-term arc, maybe it’s end game, maybe it doesn’t happen at all, because someone’s going to get upset no matter what we do. But those are always the hardest ones, because they require the most intricate little things – like in the finale episode of the first season, there’s this moment where Bo and Wes, these two love interest characters for Carly, they tell her that they love her the exact same time, right at the end of the episode. And I could kind of tell – and this is where sort of my director brain came in – I could tell that for that exchange, none of the four cameras had a reaction shot on me for that part, because we don’t shoot with a live audience, but our camerawork is pretty similar, where we sort of just scoop reactions and dialogue from people as we go and try to get it all in one if we can. And since I didn’t have any dialogue, there wasn’t really a reason to put a camera on me except for the fact that, you know, if you know the show, and if you know Freddie, Freddie is going to have a strong reaction to that, probably. So when it seemed like, you know, no cameras were on me and we were probably wrapping up the scene, I went over to the writers, and I was like, ‘I think we should probably do at least one take where we put a camera on me for a reaction, because I think it’s going to be important that you want to cut away and have Carly and Freddie look at each other. And have that moment of, ‘What are they thinking right now?’ You know, just to start raising that question right before the end of the season. And so we ended up doing that take, and then they kept that in the show. And then that was one of those things that people latched onto. You know, they noticed. And that was one of those things, I had to sit there and go, ‘What is this expression? Is it scared? Is it angry? Is it hurt? Is it – what is it?’ And trying to find that sort of cocktail of emotions with that one, and then leading into the premiere episode, that scene of Carly and Freddie and he’s zipping up her dress, and they’re having this kind of private moment before that launch party. There were so many things that we just had to consider. What do we want those characters to be feeling right now? Down to, ‘What am I doing with my hands?’ You know, like, there’s kind of a moment where it cuts away really fast, but like, his hand sort of pops up for a second. And like you don’t – it’s just little stuff like that. Like, what was he about to do with his hand? I don’t know. You know, we wanted to kind of raise as many stakes and questions as possible while leaving it open to interpretation. So the different people could think different things about what was going on. So those are always the most challenging, but whenever it comes to acting, usually the most challenging also equals the most fun.”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include Aaron Cooley (“The First Lady”), Caity Lotz (“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”), Ross Patterson (“Ross Patterson Revolution!,” “Drinkin’ Bros”), and Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Wayne Federman (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Melissa Manchester (“Don’t Cry Out Loud”), Molly Smith Metzler (“Maid,” “Shameless”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Younger”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Joey and Daniella Pantoliano (“The Matrix,” “Memento”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Kyla Pratt (“The Proud Family”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Reid Scott (“Veep”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Tramell Tillman (“Severance”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” “Suddenly I See”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating, mobilizing, and activating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. The Creative Coalition harnesses the unique platforms of the arts community and entertainment industry to make positive impacts on social welfare issues. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.