An Exclusive with ZEKE AND LUTHER's Adam Hicks
I am not a morning person. So a few weeks ago when I realized I had to get to the office by 8:30 a.m. for a celebrity video shoot, I was not happy. Not happy at all. But then I met Adam Hicks, and all was forgiven.
If you've been watching Disney XD's Zeke and Luther, you know Adam as the sometimes awkward, often zany, always irrepressible Luther. So I was kind of expecting the Tasmanian Devil to show up for the video shoot. But it turns out that Adam is totally calm, down-to-earth, and cool. AND he loves to read:
In addition to the video shoot, Adam also sat down for an interview with Marie (the same goddess who connects THE STACKS with all our celeb coverage — we bow to Marie). They chatted about the show, plus everything else from books to music to cheetahs (yes, cheetahs). Keep an eye out for the full interview in Scholastic's magazines in the fall. In the meantime, read on for a sneak peek, not to mention more videos with Adam!
First of all, let’s talk about Zeke and Luther. Tell me about the plot.
Okay, it’s about two 15-year-old kids who have this dream of becoming professional skateboarders. They’ve been friends ever since they were 5 years old so this is a dream that they take very seriously. And I play Luther, who’s a 15-year-old zany kid. He’s outrageous, always getting into these sorts of outrageous situations, and I sort of get persuaded from that dream and it’s Zeke’s job to pull me back at any given time.
Zeke and Luther is on Disney XD. From what I understand, that channel aims to appeal more to boys than to girls. Do you think that the show is going to be more boy-oriented, or appeal to both?
I honestly think it’s both in a way because Zeke has a younger sister who sort of brings the girl appeal to the show, and it has different situations where it does focus on both. Honestly anyone pretty much can love it. There’s outrageous stunts. It is extreme. So it’s definitely a new type of thing for Disney that they’re doing, and I feel like any gender will love it.
When you say it’s extreme, what do you mean by that?
Well, there’s outrageous stunts. We’re always traveling. It’s fast-paced, always moving, lots of music, lots of tricks. Stuff like that.
Now, did you skateboard beforehand?
I did actually have a dream of becoming a professional skateboarder when I was a little kid, but I sort of jumped out of that phase. I had been skateboarding about six years before the show, and then I got the show, so I am pretty good, yeah.
Do you have to take classes, work with professionals?
Oh, yeah. We have this professional there, and his name is Jimmy Gorecki. He has helped Hutch and Daniel and me — everyone on set pretty much, and he’s pretty much guided us because skateboarding is always changing. The kids are always bringing new flavor into everything and it’s his job to let us know because we’re not always there to pick up on what the new trend is. He’s helped us so much from the pilot all the way to the end of the season.
Do you do all your own boarding or do they have stand-ins?
We have a stand-in. My stand-in, his name is Sammy — I mean, he’s amazing. He’s a pro, and he pretty much makes us look great.
Do you have a personal favorite move?
A 360 Flip.
How long did it take you to learn how to do that?
I actually learned it on the show. From Sammy. I had never really understood how to do it, but all you really need is guidance — because it’s complicated, but only in your head. For someone else, they’ve mastered things that you think are complicated, so if you just listen for a second, it’s very easy to pick it up.
Any scary or funny moments on the board?
Man, I have done things. Yeah. There have been a lot of races and stuff where we just totally came off the board. And I mean, it’s gonna happen. I remember this scene, and I had this huge backpack on and I had to go down this hill. It took at least 20 tries because the backpack kept weighing me down, so every time I jumped on the board, the backpack would come over my head and I would just wipe out immediately. And they didn’t call in our stunt doubles that day, so we had to do it.
In real life, do you think Luther would be a friend of yours?
Definitely. I think Luther is in every kid really. That’s why I think he has an appeal to every person, girl or boy . . . Have you ever had those moments where you live in that quiet type of abnormal state? Like you live in the outrageous moments? I know in your life you have a couple moments where you shouldn’t have said that or you shouldn’t have done that. That’s sort of Luther all around. He lives in those types of moments: “Oh no, I shouldn’t have done that! Why did I do that?” But he doesn’t realize it. And that’s sort of how I based the character. I looked at other people’s outrageous states and just sort of created him.
Have you ever met anybody like Luther?
Honestly, no, to tell you the truth. I mean, he has his serious moments. He’s into girls; he’s starting to hit that age, but he’s still outrageous. He wears outrageous clothes. He eats outrageous foods. He doesn’t get it. You can tell him, but he still just won’t listen. And I don’t think it’s that he doesn’t care; he’s just not aware. You can go as far as doing whatever with this character. That’s why I love it.
Now, I know that you write songs and play the drums. Do you have a band?
Well, we tried a band when I was little, but as I grew up I started hanging with an older group and they sort of influenced me on the hip hop type of music. I know at first look — I mean, I get this all day long: “What, what? What are you — ?” But actually, Daniel Curtis Lee, who plays Kojo on the show, we make music and we have a whole thing of mix tapes and CDs. We’re working on that right now. And so hopefully that gets launched. So yeah, we make music and I wish you guys could hear some.
I've heard that animals are a big part of your family’s life and your mom takes in a lot of stray animals. Have you ever been with your mother when she's rescued an animal?
You have no idea. It’s like daily — yes. Constantly . . . If you talk about an animal lover, then you talk about my mom. Seriously. She’s like 150 percent, all the way — I mean, she’ll drive down the freeway and see a dog off the freeway and get off the freeway and go down to rescue it. I mean she has seven, eight cats. I can’t even — I don’t even know! We have seven or eight cats, two dogs . . .
Silly question about animals — if you could be an animal, what animal would you like to be?
Let me think. Probably a cheetah. Speed, beauty, physique.
You've said that a favorite book of yours is Henry VIII. Do you like biographies?
I do, I do like biographies. I have a weird taste . . . I don’t want to say tragic, but real life stories appeal to me more than stuff. I read a lot of autobiographies, a lot . . . I don’t know, I think it’s more appealing. It draws you in more, does it not? And it’s not just those types of biographies — I’ll read history, stuff on space. It really doesn’t have to do with anything, but just black holes and stuff like that. I find it interesting.
We also asked Adam if he had a favorite book series from when he was younger, and he recommended Goosebumps by R. L. Stine. (Coincidentally, Adam also starred in the movie Mostly Ghostly, based on the first book in R. L. Stine's series of the same name.) Check out what Adam had to say about Goosebumps:
Of course, Adam also loves Stephen King, who's considered, like, THE master of horror for adults. So that clinches it — not only is Adam not the kind of confused, slightly spastic character he plays on TV, but he's definitely a much braver soul than I am.
— Karen, STACKS Staffer
For more on Zeke and Luther, read our interview last month with Adam's co-stars Hutch Dano and Daniel Curtis Lee.
Interview conducted by Marie Morreale
Photos at skate park © Bob D'Amico/DisneyXD
Adam Hicks photo courtesy of Disney XD