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Matt Prokop Interview

Teen actor takes flight as High School Musical 3's Rocketman


By Amy Braun

Matt Prokop makes his feature film debut playing Jimmie "The Rocketman" Zara in High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
The official headshot of Matt Prokop, the High School Musical 3 star who recently spoke with UltimateDisney.com.
A native of Texas, he began acting two years ago, and has made appearances on television shows such as "The Office" and "Hannah Montana". In this new interview, 18-year-old Matt talks with UltimateDisney.com about being the new kid on the block at East High School.


UltimateDisney.com: The senior Wildcats passed the torch, so to speak, to your character and two others. How does it feel to be one of the newest members of the High School Musical phenomenon?

Matt Prokop: Oh, it is such an honor. The first few days we knew we had the roles, I think we were all really scared that we could possibly butcher the movie and be the kids who butchered the High School Musical franchise. But the cast welcomed us with open arms, and they really made us feel at home. And Kenny Ortega, the director, the first day we all read the script together, he brought us in and said, "What do you want to do with your character?" He had no direction on where he wanted us to take it; he basically let us come up with our own character and he would tweak it here and there if he didn't like certain things. But he gave us so much freedom with it. And it felt like we had been there since High School Musical 1.

What do you have in common with your character, Jimmie "The Rocketman" Zara?

I would definitely say we're kind of opposite. I'm a little more laid back than the Rocketman. I was definitely a class clown in high school, and I think that's kind of what he's going at,
As Jimmie "The Rocketman" Zara, Matt Prokop gets to both take and be the big shot in the senior Wildcats' final game.
he just kind of really wants to get noticed, and trying to steal that thunder away from Mr. Bolton.

How do the three new Wildcats differ in personality from the senior Wildcats?

I think for us, we were just so ready to just see whatever we could see and learn anything we could possibly learn while filming that movie. And we were all really cautious, we didn't want to overstay our welcome or go hang out on the scene if we weren't needed, and I think that was the biggest thing, was just the comfortablility level on set. The seniors were there and ready to take us in if we had questions or anything, so they were kind of like the teachers, and we were the students on set, so they were basically like our parental figures out there.

What will people find in the Extended Edition of High School Musical 3 that they didn't see in theaters?

They will see all the scenes that the girls cried over. Vanessa [Hudgens] and Monique [Coleman] had some pretty dramatic scenes they were a little disappointed that they got cut from the movie, because you never really saw the friendship build between their characters. You always knew they were best friends, but you never really saw them have those certain girl best friend moments. And there are a couple scenes on the DVD where they're in Gabriella's room, talking about college and boys, and those normal conversations that girls have. I think that's going to be one of the scenes where a lot of the girls will really enjoy.
There was so much dialogue that had to be cut due to time, all the huge dance numbers and all that other great stuff, 'cause the choreography was just so incredible. And it's a musical - you can't cut the music.

Had you had singing and dancing experience prior to High School Musical 3?

None whatsoever. The first time I ever sang out loud was actually in the audition room. I was so nervous.

What was the biggest challenge while filming High School Musical 3?

The biggest challenge would be holding up that towel! I think they had to sew and Velcro and stitch up that towel so much to where it would fit our bodies perfectly, 'cause they were constantly pouring water on us every time they yelled "Cut", and then we'd have to run about one hundred yards on camera, and that towel would try and fall every day, but luckily there were no accidents.

How did you feel on the last day of filming?

It was kind of mixed feelings. We were happy that it was finished, but we were so sad, especially the main cast, 'cause they've been a family for three years, and that really was their graduating moment. And Kenny came out and gave us this speech on that last night and it pretty much put everyone to the point of tears, if not bawling hysterically. That last night, I went up to Jemma [McKenzie-Brown] and Justin [Martin] and said, "Are y'all ready?" like, "this is it, we made it," and it was a pretty cool moment. It was just me, Justin, and Jemma just hanging out and being the new kids, and it was really cool.

How did you get interested in acting?

Well, I was always kind of the class clown in school, and I just wanted to find the place where I wouldn't get in trouble for talking too much. So I started going to an acting class in Houston, Texas, and I went to an acting coach for about a year straight. She thought I was ready to go to L.A. and try the whole acting thing, so me and my mom flew out to Los Angeles for spring break and I met with a couple agents, and literally moved out the next week and started auditioning.

Did you receive any words of wisdom from your High School Musical 3 castmates?

Yes. Corbin [Bleu] told me, before the movie comes out, go to every amusement park possible, go to any toy store you've ever wanted to go to, any place where you would possibly get mobbed after the movie comes out, so I went to Six Flags, Disneyland, anywhere I could go within the four months we had from the time we were out to the time it came out.

And then Lucas Grabeel actually gave me probably some of the best advice I've ever gotten for the business. 'Cause this was my first feature film, and he sat me down, and he said, take these experiences like it's your college for acting. He said you can either come out of this project with just a small little green film, or you could come out of it knowing everything about the directing, the writing, producing.
High School Musical 3's new class, Jemma McKenzie-Brown, Matt Prokop, and Justin Martin share a laugh in the Extended Edition DVD's blooper reel.
He said just literally walk around and figure out what people do, and what jobs do what, and he said you can learn anything you want about a set if you just pay attention and follow other people around set. So, it was really cool. He just said, treat whatever experiences I go through just like it's college and I'm getting a full degree out of it

Do you have a favorite musical number in High School Musical 3?

I have to say "I Want It All", just because it was, hands down, the biggest dance number in the movie. The choreography was great and that scene is so big for the people that are from Salt Lake [City], because there were a lot of the local dancers and some of their family members. It was just a really family-friendly day on set when we filmed that scene, so that scene has a special place in, I think, the whole cast's heart. And then seeing Zac [Efron] go crazy over Sharpay was just hilarious.

Are you interested in being in other movie musicals in the future?

I haven't really put much thought into more musicals, just because singing and dancing was never a thought I had in the first place. So, I mean, I would definitely love to do more of a darker musical, like a Sweeney Todd or anything that has to do with The Beatles music, even though I think Across the Universe set that bar pretty high.

What is your favorite Disney movie of all-time?

If it was last year, I would've stuck with Aladdin and The Lion King, but now after seeing WALL-E, WALL-E is definitely now my favorite Walt Disney movie.


Buy High School Musical 3: Senior Year Extended Edition DVD from Amazon.com
High School Musical 3: Senior Year is now on DVD and Blu-ray.
Read our review. / Buy High School Musical 3: Senior Year from Amazon.com:
2-Disc Extended DVD / 1-Disc Theatrical DVD / Blu-ray/DVD Combo / DVD Trilogy / Blu-ray Trilogy

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Interviews:
Justin Martin (fellow new High School Musical 3: Senior Year cast member)
Taylor Lautner (Twilight, The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl) | Michael Angarano (Sky High, The Forbidden Kingdom)
Mitchel Musso ("Hannah Montana") | Brenda Song ("The Suite Life of Zack & Cody", "Suite Life On Deck")

Related Red Carpet Photo Reports:
High School Musical DVD Premiere at El Capitan (May 2006) | High School Musical 2 DVD Premiere at El Capitan (November 2007)

Related Reviews:
High School Musical 3: Senior Year (Extended Edition)
High School Musical: Encore Edition, 2-Disc Remix / High School Musical 2: Extended Edition, 2-Disc Deluxe Dance Edition
High School Musical DVD Game • High School Musical: The Concert - Extreme Access Pass DVD, CD
Recent Disney DVDs: Air Bud: Special Edition • Mary Poppins: 45th Anniversary Edition • The Secret of the Magic Gourd • Space Buddies
Fall 2008 Movies: Beverly Hills Chihuahua • Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa • Fireproof • City of Ember • Body of Lies
Disney 2008 Films: WALL•E • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian • Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert
Featuring the High School Musical Cast: That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana • Jump In! • Return to Halloweentown
Wizards of Waverly Place: Supernaturally Stylin' • Hannah Montana: The Complete First Season • Step Up 2 The Streets
The Even Stevens Movie • Lizzie McGuire: Box Set Volume 1 • Kit Kittredge: An American Girl • The Cheetah Girls 2 • Twitches
Musicals: Across the Universe • Camp Rock • Newsies • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street • Dreamgirls
High School Musical: Soundtrack, 2-Disc SE Soundtrack, Karaoke Series / High School Musical 2: Soundtrack, Karaoke Series

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Posted February 25, 2009.