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Young Actors Learn How to Eat Fried Worms
By Will Stripling
Scholastic Kids Press Corps


Will and Hallie Kate Eisenberg. Hallie had the day off when we visited, but she dropped by to rehearse for her next scene.
(Photo: ©Jackie English)

Kids, courage, and worms. It's all in the new movie How to Eat Fried Worms, which was recently filmed in Austin, Texas. The film was adapted from Thomas Rockwell's popular children's novel. Screenwriter and director Bob Dolman talked to Scholastic News Online about his ideas for this film. He adapted the screenplay—set in modern times—from the 1973 book.

"The first things I looked for were ways for the story to have more conflict, have more activity, and I added more characters," he said. "The book is a small story, and the movie has to be bigger."

The basic ideas of the book are all in the new movie. It has all the makings for an exciting and funny story. Basically, the story is about an 11-year-old kid named Billy who is picked on by Joe, the school bully.

"I'll be in your face nonstop," said Adam Hicks, who plays Joe.

Eventually, Billy overcomes his fear of Joe by proving he can eat 10 worms in one day. It was this message of courage that attracted Dolman to the story.

The kids in the cast are 9 to 14 years old. "The cast is full of kids," said actress Hallie Kate Eisenberg. "That's what makes this movie fun." Eisenberg plays Erica, the only girl in the movie.

The young actors in this movie have made a lot of sacrifices to do what they do. They live in hotels and have to get up early to shoot the same scenes over and over. Being in a movie is hard work, especially for the main characters.

Luke Benward plays Billy, the lead character who has to eat the worms. But don't worry, the worms in the movie are fake! So, has he ever eaten a real worm?

"I don't think so, but I've eaten a roly-poly!" he told Scholastic News Online.

Actor Austin Rogers, who plays a nervous Adam Simms, had to eat a fake worm too. "You should see them; they are so cool," he said. "If you do your hand a little bit like that, they squirm around and everything."

This movie is going to be fun to see because it is especially designed for kids. It is not animated; it is real kids dealing with everyday problems—and a few worms!

"I like this movie because it's all about kids," said Rogers. "This is like my age group here."

This story is all about overcoming fears. That is why Dolman has made courage the theme of this movie. Every movie or book has a hidden message that tries to teach us something, he explained. We can learn an important lesson if we can look between the lines, and find the message that is hidden there.

Hicks summed it up best by calling the movie "really funny, really good. Good story, good ending."

Get more secrets from the set of How to Eat Fried Worms!