Grounded For Life: Love Triangle
If you haven't seen the fun Fox network sitcom Grounded for Life, you are missing a show that teens and young adults can really get into. It's about young parents who are not totally into being responsible and the struggles they have with their kids. Much of the comedy revolves around teen daughter Lily who is played by pretty red-haired Lynsey Bartilson, 18. Lily is the hottie of choice for two guys; Brad, a sweet nerd played by 19-year-old Bret Harrison and newcomer cutie Dean, played by Mike Vogel, 22.
We visited the studio where Grounded is shot and hung out with the trio in Lynsey's homey dressing room. She's decorated it with lush velvet throws and a great couch topped with a black mosquito net. These upbeat young actors, who are obviously buddies in real life, were piled on the couch trying to ignore all their incoming cellphone calls. We learned about their relationships, outside activities and they gave us advice for all the young wanna-be actors out there. Mostly, we all had fun.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: You guys are playing a love triangle. Have you ever been in that situation in your own lives?
Lynsey: There's always something like that. Yeah. Growing up I had a boyfriend for a long time and his best friend and I kind of had a little flirty thing. Then when we broke up, it never really escalated into anything but they were always kind of fighting over me and I kind of broke up their friendship to some degree.
Mike: No. I just got out of a long, long, long relationship so I'm new to the field.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: Who is the prankster on the set and what are some of the weird things they've done?
Lynsey: Were you guys here for the poop thing last year? I had a fake plastic poop that I would just leave random places on the set last season.
Mike: Everyone takes turns I guess. Burping and (cutting the cheese). Everything is random.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: Bret, do you play in a band?
Bret: I just play with my friends, not really in a band. Just for fun. I guess I would if I had the chance.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: In one episode you were purposely singing offkey to Lynsey.
Bret: No. I'm just really bad.
Lynsey: No. You're good.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: Bret, your character Brad is pretty klutzy and you are always tripping or falling. Is that you or a stunt guy?
Bret: In the car episode, they used a stunt guy, but I usually do my own prat falls.
Lynsey: There's an episode where they threw chicken at him. It hit him right in the eye.
Mike: Somebody would lob it at him.
Bret: They threw it 15 times and I thought 'oh, this is gonna suck'. It was a rubber chicken. It was like a dog toy with edges.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: The parents in Grounded for Life are pretty young and still want to be cool. What kind of parents do you all have, super responsible or cool?
Lynsey: I think mine are a mixture of both. They are totally my best friends in the whole wide world but they're still my parents and there's still a certain respect owed but they're amazing and great fun. They're the perfect balance. (Lynsey's cell phone goes off and it plays a jaunty little tune. Mike tries to answer it. 'Hi. I'm Lynsey Bartilson').
Mike: My mom's down. She's jiggy. She's hip. My mom's totally cool. She came out and visited me about a month ago because I'm from Philadelphia originally, so she flew out and we're out at 3 o'clock in the morning with my friends and she's out there with us. She just enjoys people and can blend. A lot of people are afraid to bring their parents around their friends because 'Geez, mom. Why'd you say that?' But all my friends love her. I guess she's kinda all right.
Bret: My parents are cool. My mom works in education. She's in special ed so we work well together. When I was younger she was still getting her different degrees and she would practice all the different tests on me. She's the best mom.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: If your characters really existed, would they be the kind of people you would want to hang with?
Lynsey: Noooo. Lily's so extremely dramatic. Everything is such drama. But she has a good side to her. I would say that I'd hang out with her if I could smack her around a little bit.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: What about you, Mike?
Lynsey: He IS Dean.
Mike: I'm cool, man. I would so hang out with me and I do.
Bret: Oh, yeah. I'd definitely hang out with Brad. Brad doesn't give...uh, doesn't care what anybody thinks about him. Just does what he wants to do and I think more people his age should strive not to be a super power nerd or anything but people try to fit in too much. Brad doesn't get it. He's 'What is fitting in all about'? He just knows what he wants and goes after it. (Leering at Lynsey). Write that Bret wants to be his character. I want that in there.
Mike: My guy's really too cocky and too full of himself so I wouldn't. He's over the top too much.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: What would you guys say to a teen or young adult who thinks acting is the career for them?
Lynsey: I would say go for it. Follow your dreams. Don't let anything get in your way. Always keep learning, striving to know more. Knowledge is power.
Bret: To be a good actor, you have to love acting. You have to want to do it for the right reasons. You won't get there unless you have this 100 percent passion for it. Otherwise you're wasting your time.
Mike: I agree wholeheartedly. I've heard 'Dare To Dream Because It Might Happen.' When you're growing up, especially when you're going through high school, everyone's trying to slap you out of a dream world and into reality saying 'No, no you don't really want to be an actor. What do you really want to do?'
I think acting is one of the hardest professions because when you go out for a normal job, you interview maybe five times in your life. When you're an actor, every time you go in it's a new interview and you could be interviewed five times a day and shot down five times a day. Like Bret says, it has to be 100 percent. You can't be in it because you want to be a star. You do it for you and bring what you have to the table creatively. You let that be what drives you through it.
Lynsey: And we're lucky because every person on the show is like that. They're all doing it for the right reasons. It's a pleasure to work with people like that.
Bret: And have fun. A lot of people make acting, the whole business, such work. They talk about it religiously. When I'm acting you can tell I'm having so much fun doing what I'm doing. We're lucky because most people don't get to go to work and do something they like every day and have a blast.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: Do you all think that what is going on in the world right now is going to change Hollywood? How has it effected you personally?
Mike: I'm from the East Coast. It had a big impact on me. If it is going to effect Hollywood it may effect the kinds of films being put out, effect the substance in projects being put out but I don't think it should effect the ratings of things. It shouldn't deter people from going out and seeing things.
History shows that in times of war, sales of movies went through the roof because people needed an escape. It's healthy and it's therapeutic. You sit and watch news all day long and the world's ending. Go out and have some fun. Watch something light-hearted. See a comedy or a love story. Enjoy yourself. This disaster should affect Hollywood in a positive way because Hollywood isn't just out there for glitz and glamour. It serves a purpose.
Lynsey: Also, if anything, it's going to make Hollywood more important. This is a way that people can communicate on a broad scale all over the world and the messages that are communicated are important. That's the reason most people are in this as actors. We have something we want to say. We have a beautiful art that we want to show to people. We're very lucky that we have a medium in which we can do that. I think it's important to have us to turn to to laugh with and learn from. It's our responsibility at the same time to communicate the things that people need to hear.
Bret: It's a good opportunity for people to learn as well. A lot of the shows are touching on what is going on. Third Watch dealt with it over a three week period.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: Who is an actor or actress that each one of you admires and why?
Lynsey: Carol Burnett 'cuz she's the funniest lady ever!
Mike: I'm gonna go with a split of Ed (Edward) Norton and DeNiro. I just think that you never see them playing the same person. Their dedication to their craft is a life-long thing and they're noticed for it.
Bret: Vince Vaughn. He's having fun. I am supposed to go to the premiere of Domestic Disturbance and I'm really excited about meeting him. Tell everybody to rent Clay Pigeons with Vince Vaughn.
At this point a maintenance man came into the dressing room, looking for a phantom smell that Lynsey had complained about. Mike takes advantage by leaning into the mic and saying 'Lynsey doesn't shower.' 'Shut up!'
TEENHOLLYWOOD: What do you like to do to relax when you aren't working?
Lynsey: We're all pretty musical. I dance. We hang out. We bowl. I bowl very badly. And I shop...a lot.
Bret: Honestly, a whole lot of nothing. I end up in some kind of rowdiness. Hangin' out with friends. In the winter I'll get back into snow boarding. When I lived in Oregon, you go to Mt. Hood and to Whistler. Now, I mostly sit at home and watch TV.
Mike: Right now, I'm trying to buy some furniture for my new apartment. When I first moved out here, I lived in a hotel for a couple of months while I looked for a place. One room with no kitchen. Now I have my own place, but all I have is a bed, tv and stereo. I definitely need furniture. I'm a big sports freak. I used to do a lot of aggressive rollerblading until I almost killed myself. When I do kick back, I enjoy playing my guitar and reading, as boring as that sounds. That's my chill time, play some soft music, read something to take my mind off everything.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: Lynsey, you've done a lot of professional dancing Do you miss it?
Lynsey: I really do. That's why I'm actually getting back into it a lot more. That was my first love. I'd like to do another musical.
TEENHOLLYWOOD: What would you all like the fans out there to know about you?
Lynsey: This (red) is my natural hair color. That we're all just big nerds. (Her phone rings).
Mike: And you're popular.
Lynsey: We're popular nerds. Mike's phone hasn't rung.
Mike: I turned it off.
Bret: We're sarcastic.
Mike: I've only been here a couple of months. If there's one thing to know about all of us, it's that we are a cast where there's a lot of drama on set but we're really friends. We enjoy each other's company and build each other up.
Lynsey: We take care of each other.
Interviewer and writer Lynn Barker is a Hollywood-based entertainment journalist and produced screenwriter.