Thanks to the wildly successful Wizards of Waverly Place, David Henrie became an international star at a young age. And with those Disney days in the rear-view, David is looking at his career with new, mature eyes. But don't expect to see him half-naked (damn it), smoking crack or covered in tattoos -- on the big screen or in real life -- since David is singularly focused on establishing a life-long career and has no interest in shocking simply to shock.
This weekend, his first post-Wizards project hits theaters -- The Secret World of Arrietty -- and I caught up with the actor to talk about the stunning animated adventure, his future films and professional inspirations. I also had to take the chance to find out if he actually knows the ending to How I Met Your Mother.
What attracted you to this project?
I was so impressed by what the studio had done in the past -- they've made some really good films. What I liked in particular about this one is that it's a classic tale -- everyone's heard stories about little people taking things from your house -- but then I watched the Japanese version of the movie and realized I didn't know so much about it, so it became this cinematic experience. The movie is beautiful, visual and at the same time had a very heartfelt message: it doesn't matter how little you are, the doesn't measure the size of your heart. I think that's a really great message for everyone to take away.
Sounds like the fans you amassed doing Wizards of Waverly Place certainly will. What's it been like not going to work on that show every day since it came to an end in January?
It's so strange. When you do a show from the time you're 16 years old, you not only grow to know and love your co-stars, but all the people behind the scenes. I miss seeing all those people, but at the same time, I was excited to move on. Although I've been working since I was little, I feel like the end of Wizards opened up a whole new chapter of my life and I was excited to do [Arrietty] and also the next movie I have, Little Boy. It's really the complete antithesis of anything I've ever done.
Is that the goal with all your post-Wizards projects - to transition into cinematic adulthood?
Absolutely. I love how Shia LaBeouf, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling all did it. They are very talented, take what they do very seriously and are passionate about their medium – that's something I share as well. I am going to work hard to succeed but won't shun the audience Disney has so generously provided me with.
So you won't be choosing some scandalous project just so you can have sex or do drugs in order to "seem more adult?"
No, no, no, not at all. First and foremost it has to be appealing. If it's something I don't agree with, then I would never do it just for shock value. With Little Boy, my character is completely different than Justin Russo, but it's a work of art. It's about an 8-year-old boy who thinks that if he has enough faith in God, he can bring his dad back from WWII. Intellectually, it really deals with the question of faith and I got to work with all these Oscar-winning actors. It's something fans will never expect from me. I'm excited to move on but bring the audience with me throughout my career.
It's funny because while you are growing up, How I Met Your Mother has kind of frozen you and Lyndsy Fonseca in time. Is it true that when you guys filmed that opening in 2005, you also filmed scenes for the series finale so it made chronological sense?
That is true. Yup! Everyone always drills my brain for that. It was just me, Lyndsy and the two showrunners. They rolled the cameras and literally evacuated set. Once everyone left and it was just us four, they told us what they thought would happen. We shot it and signed our lives away, so I won't be disclosing anything, but we shot what could be the ending to the show.
Without risking your life, do you think fans will be happy with the ending?
100 percent! It's a great ending to the show. It's solid and well thought out from the very beginning. We'll see if they end up going with it, but I think fans would really appreciate the ending.