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Jason Dolley Interview

Teenage actor discusses Hatching Pete and other Disney Channel work


By Amy Braun

If you watch Disney Channel, surely you'll recognize Jason Dolley. He appeared as Newt Livingston in the "That's So Raven" spin-off sitcom "Cory in the House." He has also starred in three Disney Channel Original Movies: 2006's Read It and Weep, 2008's Minutemen,
Jason Dolley shoots off an incredulous look at his best friend as Pete Ivey in the Disney Channel Original Movie "Hatching Pete."
and 2009's Hatching Pete. The credits don't end there for Dolley, who will turn 18 on July 5th. Before joining the Disney family, Dolley held the lead in Warner's family sequel Saving Shiloh and played a young Brendan Fraser in The Air I Breathe. He also portrayed youngest son T.J. on the ABC comedy "Complete Savages."

In Hatching Pete, Dolley plays a shy, insecure high school student who finds fun donning a big yellow chicken suit and anonymously serving as the basketball team's mascot. The movie came to DVD this week alongside fellow DCOM Dadnapped in a Double Feature disc. Jason took some time to chat with UltimateDisney.com about his various television experiences and being in college.


UltimateDisney.com: How did you get started with acting?

Jason Dolley: I think I've always kind of been interested. When I was a kid, me and my brother would dress up in Halloween costumes on the weekends and stuff. We'd play dress up, like we'd become the people whose costumes we put on. So, I think that's where I started acting, and then I just got involved with school plays, which sort of led to starting to audition.

What was the biggest challenge filming Hatching Pete?

The biggest challenge was a challenge but at the same time it was fun. The chicken suit was actually a bit of a... it was hard work. I really did have a good time in the chicken suit, but it was a chore. You had to put it on, and putting it on alone took probably fifteen minutes from start to finish. So that, and being in it and acting, and being alive and being big with your motions, 'cause you've got to move big when you've got the big old chicken suit on. It wasn't easy, but it was fun.

What was it like working with Mitchel Musso, Tiffany Thornton, and Brian Stepanek on the movie?

It was a lot of fun. Mitchel I had kind of gotten to know each other beforehand, because we did Disney Channel Games together, so I knew I was going to have a buddy right from the start. And Tiffany's awesome. She can make anybody smile anytime. She's got a great energy to her, and she's really fun to work with.

Pete (Jason Dolley) and Angela (Josie Loren) turn around to see who just proposed a goofy idea for the group's parade float in "Hatching Pete."
She plays an awesome cheerleader, too. She's really funny. And Brian, he's just all-around amazing. He's funny, he's a great actor. He brought his family out for a little while. He's got two awesome kids and an awesome wife, too. It was a lot of fun all the way around.

Do you have any funny stories from the set?

Well, I remember once, it was late at night and Mitchel and one of the other guys that was playing a guy on the basketball team -- they decided to deliver a milkshake to Josie's [Josie Loren, who played Angela] room at, like, 2:30 in the morning, as a prank - they were up and they didn't want to go to sleep. They were like, "Dude, let's pull a prank on Josie real quick here."

Do you think that Hatching Pete has themes that kids can relate to?

Absolutely. I think when the film starts out, Pete is not really comfortable in his skin yet, he's kind of in an awkward stage, and everybody goes through that. So I think they can relate to that for sure. And for boys, I know a lot of the time, younger boys get nervous talking to girls - I know I did when I was in elementary school - and Pete almost dry heaves talking to his best friend's older sister. Also, the main theme in the movie is friendship and doing whatever you can for your friends. I think it's important that kids take that away and that they apply it to their lives, and I think they will.

You've been in three Disney Channel Original Movies now: Read It and Weep, Minutemen, and Hatching Pete. Have those all been fairly different experiences?

Yes, they were all very different experiences. On Read It and Weep, I was sort of new to the whole Disney thing then, and I was still learning a lot about how it all worked. But that was when I really got to meet the crew there, and it's pretty much the same crew from every film.

I got to start friendships there, and then when I came back for Minutemen, I was super-excited, 'cause I was like, "I know all the crew, and I know everybody there, and I'm sure my co-stars will be awesome, too", and of course they were. But Minutemen was special,
Mitchel Musso and Tiffany Thornton's "Let it Go" music video
from Hatching Pete:
I think, with the cast, because not everybody knew everybody and most people were new to each other. But we were all friends so quickly. We were all going out to dinner together. We became a family really quick, which doesn't really happen very often.

For Hatching Pete, I still knew the crew and I knew it was going to be basically the same deal. I stayed at the same hotel for each one. When you stay in the same hotel, you know where the restaurants are by the third one, you know what there is to do after work, and I knew at least two or three people that were going to be working in the film, so I knew I was going to have friends from the get-go.

What are the differences between filming a TV show like "Cory in the House" and making Disney Channel Original Movies?

The biggest one is, when you're on a TV show, you're in a soundstage and your set, and there're four cameras going all the time, and you do a scene two or three times and then you move on to the next scene. Doing a movie, you're going on location to a real place, so they've only got one or two cameras rolling each time, and they have different angles for the scenes; depending on how long it is, some scenes can take all day. So that's really the biggest.

Can you tell us anything about what's coming up on "Cory in the House"?

I'm not actually sure. I think we might have shown all the new episodes, 'cause we're not making any more.
There may be one or two that haven't come out, and I don't know which ones those would be, but I'm pretty sure all of them have aired.

When you say you're done, do you mean filming the season, or is the show over?

The show is done filming. We've been finished filming for a while now.

Okay, I didn't know that. Out of all the characters you've played, is there one in particular that you can relate the most to?

They've all been kind of similar. I think probably Virgil from Minutemen, just because his sense of humor, I think it is about him, just the way he carries himself reminds me very much of me. There're definitely nuances of the other characters that are very similar to me, but I think overall, I'm probably closest to Virgil.

Your character on "Cory in the House", Newt, plays guitar and sings. You also play guitar. Would you want to pursue a career in music in the future?

Possibly. I'm kind of seeing it right now as a hobby. I really enjoy it and really like to learn about it and to practice, but it's not really something I see myself doing as a career. I don't know. I'd like to keep my options open, so I never want to say no for sure, but right now, the way I feel is I want to focus more on acting and being a good actor.

I hear that you're in your freshman year of college- how are you enjoying it so far?

I am really loving college. I'm about to finish my second semester, I've got one more final and then I'm done. I really like the college environment. I'm going to a community college, so it's not incredibly different from high school, but at the same time, just the structure of it puts more responsibility on the individual. They're not going to call your parents if you don't come to class - you're just going to miss the notes, and you've got to find the notes or go online and look at the notes. It's more that the responsibility falls back on you, and I really like that- it makes you feel older, like they trust you more. I really like the way it works.

What is your favorite Disney movie of all time?

Favorite Disney movie of all time... that's a toughie! I am probably going to go with The Lion King, though. I'll go with a classic. That was the first movie that I ever saw in theaters, so I have a special place in my heart for The Lion King.


Buy Hatching Pete / Dadnapped: Double Feature DVD from Amazon.com
Hatching Pete and Dadnapped are now on DVD.
Read our review. / Buy from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Also Starring Jason Dolley: Cory in the House: Newt & Improved Edition Minutemen Read It and Weep Cory in the House: All-Star Edition
Disney Channel Fun: Wizards of Waverly Place: Supernaturally Stylin' Phineas and Ferb: The Daze of Summer Hannah Montana: Keeping It Real
Paul Blart: Mall Cop Camp Rock Jump In Twitches Hannah Montana DVD Game Action Packed: T.V. Sets

Related Interviews:
Mitchel Musso (Hatching Pete, "Hannah Montana") Olesya Rulin (High School Musical) Matt Prokop (High School Musical 3)
Taylor Lautner (Sharkboy and Lavagirl, The Twilight Saga: New Moon) Michael Angarano (Sky High, The Forbidden Kingdom)
Brenda Song ("The Suite Life of Zack & Cody", "Suite Life on Deck", Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior)

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Posted May 15, 2009.