(http://www.teenhollywood.com/d.asp?r=109391&cat=1035) (warning: it has popups!)
He looked great in a military uniform as J.J. Pryor, the soulful oldest brother on ďAmerican DreamsĒ and as a torpedo man on a submarine in the spy thriller movie U-571. Handsome Will Estes, veteran of a lot of TV comedies and child star of ďThe New LassieĒ series years ago, is taking on a new adult challenge as one of the long time friends facing murder, mystery and intrigue in the new Fox TV series ďReunionĒ.
Playing Will, small-town guy with big time problems, Estes joins Alexa Davalos, Sean Faris, Amanda Righetti, Dave Annable and Chyler Leigh as they take on the roles of high school pals through the years until their 20th high school reunion covering all the mysteries and relationships in between.
We caught up with Will on a break on the Vancouver set of the series where he was kicking back with his dog Baby Girl. Will walks us through on-set pranks, bonding with his castmates, his thoughts about his ďAmerican DreamsĒ J.J. Pryor character and the time when he nearly gave up actingÖTune inÖ.
TeenTelevision: How different is this series for you than "American DreamsĒ? They are both big ensemble shows.
Will: Itís a lot different. ďAmerican DreamsĒ took place in the Ď60ís. ďReunionĒ takes place from the Ď80ís all the way to present day. The main thing that pops out is these are six friends, all about my age (26) so itís got a younger attitude to it. Itís a younger storyline.
TeenTelevision: Did you go to college or play sports like your character?
Will: I didnít play sports. Neither did he, actually. He (Will in the series) was about to play sports and then he ends up taking the fall for his friend and ended up going to prison. Years later, heís trying to go to school to get a law degree. He lost his scholarship when he went to prison.
TeenTelevision: I was only able to see the pilot. Have you revealed who is dead yet?
Will: We have shot it but the public is going to find out within a few more episodes.
TeenTelevision: Are you attracted to mystery films and books?
Will: I am. I canít say Iím a huge fan of the genre but I definitely enjoy a good mystery if it plays out smart. If donít like if it they mislead you the whole way just to mislead you. I like it when itís clever.
TeenTelevision: Do you have any friends that you have had for years and imagine youíll always have?
Will: I do. I have friends that I imagine Iíll have for the rest of my life but they arenít all friends that know each other and hang out like this group of friends. I think the actors have almost mimicked it in a way because weíre all up here in Vancouver. Weíre having a lot of fun together. Itís cool to be someoneís friend and get to play that on TV. It takes a lot of the work as an actor out of the job.
TeenTelevision: Do the actors on the series hang out in private time off set?
Will: We havenít had a whole lot of time. Iím moving into a place that Iím trying to furnish so Iím off doing that on the weekends but weíve gone out to eat and gone out to the movies and to just have a drink certain places. Weíve been all over.
TeenTelevision: Who is the troublemaker and who is the peacemaker of the group?
Will: [laughs] Weíre all a little bit of trouble. We all rally each other. Itís funny. If somebody doesnít want to come out and the rest of us are going, itís pretty much a given that everybody is going to get that person to go. I think whatís amazing about this cast is an adhesion to camaraderie. If someone is down about something or is having a problem, one of us will pick up the slack and say Ďheyí and talk to that person. Weíve fallen into looking out for each other because weíre all in the same boat up here. We all have a healthy respect for each other and itís been great.
TeenTelevision: Which of the female characters would the real Will be attracted to?
Will: I think Iím in love with all three of Ďum.
TeenTelevision: Smart answer. What is the car of your dreams?
Will: Dream car, an old Shelby Cobra. He designed the first Cobras in the Ď60ís.
TeenTelevision: What TV shows do you watch or Tivo when you can?
Will: No Tivo in Canada. I have my TV set up to BBC World so I can feel Iím connected to the rest of the planet. I like watching comedies. Iíll usually watch "Seinfeld" or "The Simpsons" or "Everybody Loves Raymond" and Iíll watch the forensic science shows [like "CSI"]. And, I like the nature shows. Like when some tiger goes after a gazelle or something on the whole gorilla social structure. I donít know why.
TeenTelevision: What would you have liked to have seen happen to your J.J. character on ďAmerican DreamsĒ to wrap up his story the way you would want to?
Will: I felt that he was a character who was searching. I would have liked for him to find something that settled him a little bit at work or in the family situation. I think a lot of him was at home in the military so I think he would have been happy with a career in the military or he would have been happy being a part of the space program but all we ever got to see him do was get coffee. He worked so hard at doing a lot of things and making things happen in life. He was such a good guy. I would have liked to have seen him end up with more payoff. Maybe not be an astronaut but just becoming a pilot.
TeenTelevision: Has anything funny happened while shooting or on the ďReunionĒ set that you can pass on to the fans?
Will: Well, weíve had a few decorated dressing rooms. It was someoneís birthday and the girls started decorating it very nicely with happy birthday stuff but then the guys had a hand in it. I donít think Chyler [Leigh] even knows this yet but sheís doing sort of a gnome thing, a picturementary if you will and none of us really quite understood why she was taking pictures with gnomes but she left this in her camera in her dressing room and we pretty much all had a go at the camera, Iím wondering if sheís watching the counter on her camera because itís about spent and I donít think she took any of the pictures. Maybe sheíll read this first. Uh oh.
TeenTelevision: Do you have ambitions to write or direct as well?
Will: I never really have. I really enjoy acting. I have lately been thinking about the possibility of directing but I donít think I know anything about it so I hesitate to even say that but I think some projects I would be interested in directing when I learn more about it. Recently, Iíve been watching directors and learning more. Weíve got an amazing D.P.
TeenTelevision: Anything planned for hiatus time?
Will: Iíve just started looking at projects. Iíll go home for the holidays on a short break but Iíve actually got to put myself on tape for something. You reminded me. Just now starting to get scripts to shoot doing the hiatus.
TeenTelevision: I hadnít realized what an extensive career you had as a child actor. How have you avoided the pitfalls that a lot of them have had? (money worries, canít make the transition etc.)
Will: Yeah, well I had a mom to keep me in line instead of all those problems. I got lucky. I transitioned into a lot of sitcom work as a teenager. I found a niche at Warner Brothers in sitcom work and really enjoyed the heck out of that and I had some down periods. I went over a year without working at one point and that was serious. Not working for a few months, you donít know if you are ever going to work again. You canít figure out what youíre doing wrong. The odds are that youíll work again but itís difficult. At that point, I thought seriously about doing other things but I ended up getting on U-571. I got to live in Rome and we shot in Malta for a month and I said Ďokay, Iíll stick this out for a little whileí. It was a life changing experience living overseas that long. I fell in love with acting again.
TeenTelevision: Does your character on ďReunionĒ have a dark side that we havenít really seen yet?
Will: I donít think he does. Some people think he does. But, thatís my personal opinion. That doesnít mean they arenít going to write something differently. We all have some sort of a dark side.
TeenTelevision: You are into Ď80ís music? Which artists?
Will: I like alot of old Ď80ís stuff. I like Pat Benatar, The Ramones, The Clash. I like New Order, Morissey and The Smiths. I like some of Audio Slaveís stuff. I donít like a lot of stuff thatís brand new out now. Rock and Roll hasnít been great since the Ď90ís with Stone Temple Pilots and Nirvana.
TeenTelevision: How many dogs do you have and names?
Will: My baby girl is sleeping right here on the bed with me. I have two dogs but the male dog is happy with my mom and all her dogs and I thought he would be happiest in L.A. That was a tough decision for me to make but Iím confident that heís happier there. We only call my female dog Baby Girl. Sheís a mutt, like chow, lab, pit, something. Sheís the sweetest dog youíll ever meet.
TeenTelevision: Are you a motorcycle collector.. are you into motocross competition or just for fun?
Will: My dad put me on a Honda 350 when I was six or seven years old and it was the coolest thing Iíd ever seen in my life so I know how to ride a motorcycle. Iíve had a dirt bike ever since and I got into road bikes I guess five or seven years ago. Iím not a collector. I just like bikes.
TeenTelevision: You and Michelle Trachtenberg worked together as kids and again on the TV movie ďThe Dive From Clausenís PierĒ. Are you two buddies?
Will: Weíve bumped into each other a few times. Weíre great friends. Itís always funny to see each other then we ended up working on ďThe Dive From Clausenís PierĒ together. That was fun too.
TeenTelevision: Did you have to research what a paraplegic has to go through for that role?
Will: Yeah. I got the chance to do more research for that role than probably anything else Iíve ever worked on and it was pretty powerful.
TeenTelevision: Any message for the fans of ďReunionĒ?
Will: Thanks so much for watching everybody!
Lynn Barker is a Hollywood-based entertainment journalist and produced screenwriter.