DESERET NEWS; SALT LAKE CITY, UT
BETSY PICKLE SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
With “Superhero Movie,” actor Drake Bell is going old school, aiming for the heights of parody classics like “Naked Gun” and “Airplane!” by working with such experts as Leslie Nielsen, Robert Hays and producer David Zucker.
“I grew up on this stuff,” says Bell, 21. “I grew up on ‘The Naked Gun’ and Leslie Nielsen and the Zuckers and ‘Airplane!’ and all that stuff. Just to be able to be around these guys — Robert Hays, come on.
“It’s just amazing to be able to be a part of something like this.”
“Superhero Movie” largely spoofs the comic-book franchises of recent years, everything from “Batman” and “Spider-Man” to “Fantastic Four” and “X-Men.” Bell loves those films, especially the ones featuring Bruce Wayne.
“I’ve always been a big, huge Batman fan,” he says. “I can’t wait till ‘The Dark Knight’ comes out.”
In addition to the new Christopher Nolan-directed series, he also appreciates the older versions.
“I loved the Tim Burton ones,” he says. “Loved ‘Batman,’ loved ‘Batman Returns,’ loved ‘Batman Forever.’ I didn’t like the one with (Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze) so much, with George Clooney, but I still like it because it’s ‘Batman.”‘
He got a kick out of having superhero powers.
“Flying was the most fun,” says Bell, who stars as Rick Riker, aka Dragonfly. “Climbing the wall (like Spider-Man) was great.”
In real life, Bell isn’t a superhero, but he does have an extra share of talent. He started acting at age 5 and got into music at 12. As the star of the 2004-07 Nickelodeon sitcom “Drake & Josh,” he was able to show off both passions.
“I love ’em both,” he says by phone from Los Angeles. “There’s not one I love more — well, maybe music more than the acting. But they’re both super-close to me.”
Getting to integrate his music into his TV show was a huge advantage in developing a fan base, he says.
“I think it’s nice that the show lent itself to my music,” says Bell. “It makes sense if you see me playing guitar outside the show because I play guitar on the show; I write songs on the show. It’s not a complete disconnect for young people or anybody.
“It’s not like, ‘Oh, why all of a sudden is the guy from “Malcolm in the Middle” in a band playing guitar? Are we gonna like his music?’
“My music on the show is all my music. I wrote it all. So it’s not that big of a jump.”
Bell’s influences are obvious in his songs.
“That’s what I grew up on — the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Queen, the Who, all that stuff,” he says.
He hopes to balance his two careers, just as his idols Elvis Presley, Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson did.
“They sold just as many records as they did movie tickets,” he says.
Bell gained an even greater appreciation for work and life after a car accident in December 2005 left him with serious injuries to his neck, face and jaw.
“The world’s a completely more beautiful and different place,” he says.
However, a part of him remains cautious.
“It’s kind of weird ’cause I still am injured,” he says. “It’s tough approaching these stunts and these acrobatics and things without being leery at all. But once you get through it, you watch it back and you’re laughing and it’s fun and it’s all good.”
That’s definitely good because Bell doesn’t have a backup plan.
“This is what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was little,” he says. “I’ve wanted to be Dean Martin and Elvis, and I’ve just wanted to entertain people and go be on TV and go get interviewed on late- night talk shows. This has been my dream from Day One.”
(c) 2008 Deseret News (Salt Lake City). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.