Jeff Kinney On ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long… by Uinterview

Author Jeff Kinney wasn’t always set on writing an incredibly successful children and teen book series and an its ensuing film franchise, but after a slurry of rejections he found himself doing just that.

“I always wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist but I couldn’t break in,” Kinney told uInterview exclusively. For three years, he shopped around his comic strip, “Igdoof,” but couldn’t find a paper to publish it.

“I decided to start putting my cartoon into books. I worked on Diary of a Wimpy Kid for eight years before I showed it to anyone. It was published in the ninth year and now I’ve spent ten years as a published author.”

And in those ten years, Kinney has been busy – there are currently eleven Diary of a Wimpy Kid novels available, with a twelfth due out in late 2017. Of those eleven, four have been made into movies, with Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul due to hit theaters on May 19.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul was really born of my first three movie experiences,” Kinney said. “My books aren’t very easy to adapt to screen. So I really wanted to write a book that was perfectly adaptable, that we could really transfer into a movie. So everything about the book was thought of with the movie in mind.”

Producers recast several of the leading actor to make them age-appropriate for Long Haul. But some fans reacted badly to the changes, venting on social media. “I thought that it was a bit of a surprise that people were so surprised that we were changing over,” Kinney said. “The kids in the original movie are now in college so of course they can’t play middle schoolers any more. But I think that the new cast does a great job. The best thing about these movies is always the casting. Our casting department did a great job filling these roles.

For the new film, Kinney also decided to take his characters out of their comfort zone and put them in situations they have not previously experienced. Said the author, “My stories are usually small, they are usually about middle school or home life but I thought it was time to shake the tree a little bit and see what would happen when the Heffley family got out on the road.”

It seems that this trend is going to continue – the twelfth book will follow the Heffley family on a Christmas vacation to a resort where things quickly get out of hand. Kinney hopes that the new book will also be made into a movie.

“We are really hoping for an animated television series but we will do another live-action movie if we can. I have a great one in mind. I’d love to see the family get away to an island resort and I’d also love to do a Christmas movie.”

And while the prolific author has poured out his own experiences onto the page and the screen over the past decade, he still feels there are plenty of stories still out there – just maybe, not stories of his own.

“I think what I’d really encourage other kids to do is to write down their own stories. I’ve sort of tapped out my own childhood but every kid has their own stories to tell.”

Watch the trailer for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul below.


Q: What was the inspiration behind the movie? -

'Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul' was really born of my first three movie experiences. My books aren't very easy to adapt to screen. So I really wanted to write a book that was perfectly adaptable, that we could really transfer into a movie. So everything about the book was thought of with the movie in mind. The idea came from getting the Heffley's out of their home environment. My stories are usually small, they are usually about middle school or home life but I thought it was time to shake the tree a little bit and see what would happen when the Heffley family got out on the road.

Q: How was working with Jason Druker in the leading role? -

Jason Druker did a fantastic job. He has a tough job to do because he has got to be likable but sort of awful at the same time. And that is Greg Heffley. He's an average kid with lots of imperfections and Jason handled it like a pro. He did a great job. He's got tons of charisma, tons of energy, and every time he got in front of the camera, he nailed it.

Q: How did you feel about the recasting process? -

I thought that it was a bit of a surprise that people were so surprised that we were changing over. The kids in the original movie are now in college so of course they can't play middle schoolers any more. But I think that the new cast does a great job. The best thing about these movies is always the casting. Our casting department did a great job filling these roles.

Q: Do you have a favorite scene from the film? -

I think my favorite scene is the one that comes the closest to the book, where the car is invaded by a flock of seagulls. The family looses their sun roof so these seagulls get into the car and it's really remarkable.

Q: Do you have a message for other "wimpy kids?" -

I was just thinking about that earlier today. I think what I'd really encourage other kids to do is to write down their own stories. I've sort of tapped out my own childhood but every kid has their own stories to tell.

Q: Are there any future movie plans? -

We are really hoping for an animated television series but we will do another live-action movie if we can. I have a great one in mind. I'd love to see the family get away to an island resort and I'd also love to do a Christmas movie.

Q: How did you get into writing and storytelling? -

I always wanted to be a newspaper cartoonist but I couldn't break in. I spent about three years trying to get into newspapers with my comic strip, which was called 'Igdoof' and I failed. And not only that, I didn't get any sort of positive or constructive criticism so I didn't know what to do. I knew I wanted to be a cartoonist and so I decided to start putting my cartoon into books. I worked on 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' for eight years before I showed it to anyone. It was published in the ninth year and now I've spent ten years as a published author.