West Chester&x27s man in &x27The Middle&x27 looks to future as ABC sitcom begins final season

    Much has changed in the eight years since ABC’s the Middle featured West Chester’s Charlie McDermott as Axl, the athletically minded and often shirtless eldest son of Frankie (Patricia Heaton) and Mike Heck (Neil Flynn).

    In Tuesday’s Season 9 premiere, Axl returns from a post-college summer in Europe with a topknot, a little Italian, and a newfound appreciation for the finer things in life. Not everything has changed: we still get a glimpse of McDermott’s medium such as Axl’s supposedly European attitude towards public nudity; really, who needs boxers? — Briefly takes even his parents by surprise.

    “Europe has affected him. He really likes fancy coffee and scarves,” McDermott said after an ABC news conference in August. Beyond that, he didn’t know much about what to expect from the character in what was billed as the show’s final season.

    Reading: Axel from the middle age

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    perhaps, he suggested, axl will end up “working at the quarry, which I wouldn’t mind, because at least as an actor I could work with neil [flynn] for much of the season.” .”

    unlike axl, mcdermott sometimes worries about the future. “Every year, I was really afraid it wouldn’t come back. I was 18 in the pilot. Now I’m 27. It doesn’t feel like a long time,” he said.

    At first, though, “I thought we were a safe bet…because patty and neil were on it, so I was pretty sure they’d pick us,” he said, but “the longer the show went, the more I realize how crazy it is that it’s actually gone somewhere, because a lot of shows that are good get cancelled.”

    after intermission ends next spring, “i’d like to continue acting. but acting is so spontaneous, like a job comes along and then you try to get it. if you get it, you’re working on it. it’s all within a couple of months, so it’s hard” to plan, he said. “When I was younger, I really wanted to have a specific path, but now it seems impossible to do that, so I just want to keep working and hopefully enjoy what I’m doing.” /p>

    Even after eight seasons, “Axl is an enigma to me for the most part,” Mcdermott said. “I think he usually makes decisions that I don’t approve of…but he’s also funny in that regard.” He especially enjoyed last season’s episodes where Axl was briefly married (the marriage was quickly annulled) because “we rarely connect arcs.”

    “In the pilot, I think he was the least developed of all the characters,” said middle co-creator eileen heisler. “I think the reason that character worked was: Charlie himself is so different from Axl. He has this sweetness, this essence of sweetness. Axl has that too. But I think if you didn’t necessarily have that actor playing that role, you could I may have written him off as a jerk kid, but he always had this softness and concern for him, and it just makes you love him.”

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    mcdermott made his screen debut at age 13 with a small speaking role in m. night shyamalan is the village and went on to have a well-reviewed role in the 2008 movie frozen river, but “i’ve been doing theater and stuff, doing my own little movies, since i was 5 or 6 years old,” he said. p>

    In addition to co-writing, directing and starring in a 2015 film, imagigary, about a college freshman who re-imagines his childhood imaginary friend, which he filmed in his hometown, he took on a new role in the middle of the last season.

    “He directed an episode for us last year. It’s funny to see these kids grow up to this point. And he started out as Axl, the guy in the underpants, who became an adult,” Heisler said.

    the middle. 20:00 Tuesday, abc.

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