Meet Fred Figglehorn. He’s a wildly energetic 6-year-old with a high-pitched voice. Kids find him hilarious.
Fred’s adventures have almost 2 million subscribers on YouTube, the site’s second-highest subscriber base. His videos have been viewed more than 595 million times.
Now meet Lucas Cruikshank. He’s a pretty normal 17-year-old junior at Lakeview High School in Columbus, Neb. And he created Fred.
When he was 13, Cruikshank started filming himself as Fred and uploading the videos to YouTube. Eventually, they took off and Fred’s YouTube channel was the first ever to snag 1 million subscribers.
He’s taking it to the next level. Cruikshank stars in “Fred: The Movie,” a full-length feature version of Fred that debuts tonight at 7 on cable TV’s Nickelodeon network.
The transition from Internet sensation to TV star has been interesting for Cruikshank, whose face now is on toys, T-shirts and more.
We called the actor at his home in Columbus to talk about Fred, what’s next for the character and what’s next for Cruikshank himself.
Q. I walked into a store the other day and saw Fred toys with your face on them. Is it strange seeing yourself pop up everywhere?
A. It’s been pretty weird, but it’s been smooth overall. Walking into Toys R Us and seeing yourself on toys, that’s definitely weird. But I’m so happy that something I created has gotten to that level. I’m just thankful for the fans.
Q. Do you have a lot of interaction with your fans?
A. It’s cool getting to meet fans in person. When I go somewhere, like to a movie or something, it’s cool to have fans notice me and come up to me. I like getting to meet them and hear what they have to say.
Q. Some people have said the Fred movie is a little different from the YouTube series. What has changed?
A. People have been saying that, but it’s all the same. Fred’s still the same character. In the movie, you get to see it from a different point of view. On YouTube, it’s just Fred’s point of view, just him and his webcam when he’s video blogging. In the movie, you get to see more layers than you get to see in the videos.
Q. How different was it to be on a set with a director, other actors and the like as opposed to shooting everything yourself for YouTube?
A. It was definitely different, but I loved it. I always wanted to be an actor and it was fun to see characters that I created come to life, being played by such talented, fun people.
Q. How long have you been doing Fred? Are you sick of it?
A. I’ve been doing it since I was 13 and now I’m 17, so almost four years now. It’s a fun character to play, and since I created it, obviously I’m really behind it.
Q. What’s next for you after “Fred: The Movie?”
A. I’m really excited for fans to see the Fred movie. I also signed a deal with Nickelodeon for a sitcom.
Q. What is it called?
A. “Marvin, Marvin.” It’s kind of like “Mork and Mindy” and “3rd Rock From the Sun.” It’s about a teenager who comes to high school on planet Earth and he doesn’t really fit in. I think there will be some more stuff. I also have an album coming out on Tuesday, a Fred album (“Who’s Ready to Party? With Fred”). I’m also making another character different from Fred on YouTube.
Q. Will we see more from Fred?
A. Yes, I plan on doing more Fred stuff. I think Fred will go on for a while.
Q. Are you surprised at your success?
A. Actually, looking back on all of it, it’s so crazy. I always wanted to be a writer and an actor. I just didn’t think it was possible being from Nebraska.
Q. With your success, do you have any advice for people trying to do the same on YouTube?
A. The main thing with YouTube is to have fun and have patience. I think a lot of people expect their videos to become viral hits overnight. Some do, but it doesn’t always work that way. For example, I started posting them in June 2006 and it took a full year and half for them to start catching on. The key is to be patient, not expect too much and just have fun. I was having a blast doing those videos when only a few people were watching.
Q. What’s it been like working on all this stuff? Are you going back and forth between Los Angeles and Nebraska?
A. I still live in Nebraska, but I commute back and forth from L.A. to Nebraska a lot. It’s tough with school and stuff, but I always have a tutor when I’m in L.A. I love doing it, though. It keeps things fun.
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