What do you do when the child star at the head of your film franchise ages out of the main role? You recast, and start all over. It's how we ended up with Alex D. Linz in Home Alone 3, or even Tom Holland in the currently shooting Spider-Man: Homecoming. Characters are ageless on a screenplay page, but actors are not. Which is also why the Diary of a Wimpy Kid films -- inactive since 2012's Dog Days - -is starting over with a band of fresh-faced wimps.
Zachary Gordon was cast as Greg Heffley, the titular Wimpy Kid, back in 2010, and helped 20th Century Fox crank out three adaptations from Jeff Kinney's best-selling books. But Gordon was looking mature in Dog Days, so for the franchise to continue, it's about to go younger. THR reports that Fox and Color Force have cast Jason Ian Drucker has been recast as the new Greg Heffley, which will be based on the book Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. The new movie will bring back Rodrick Rules and Dog Days director David Bowers, so there will be some consistency from the previous three films. In addition to Drucker, Owen Asztalos has been cast as Greg's nervous, overly nice BFF, Rowley.
So, who are these young actors? They don't have a tone of credits to their names. The new Greg, Jason Ian Drucker, was on the Nickelodeon series Every Witch Way. Earlier, he turned up in the comedy Barely Lethal, alongside Hailee Steinfeld. He's the curly-haired dude in the middle:
Owen Asztalos was in an episode of Jessica Jones, meanwhile, and has a part in Adam Driver's fall drama Paterson. So yeah, they're just at the start of their careers.
But the name being sold here is Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and the Jeff Kinney brand, which is what Fox wants to stay in business with. Admittedly, the Wimpy Kid movies did better in the States than overseas, but the trilogy of films, released from 2010 to 2012, banked $225.2 million globally. And the books continue to connect with waves of new, young readers on an annual basis. These films likely do well on home video. Extending the brand with a new set of young actors makes sense.
One request. Can director David Bowers bring back Steve Zahn and Rachael Harris as the flustered parents of both Greg and Rodrick? That wouldn't be too weird, and they are both so priceless in those roles, I'd do anything to let them come back for The Long Haul. We shall see.