Last year, Hunter Dillon joined the new Disney+ reboot of Diary of a Wimpy Kid voicing the role of Rodrick, and he also worked on an upcoming project Riceboy Sleeps, with a release date not yet announced. Hunter plays the series regular role of Tyler Flaherty in Holly Hobbie, which airs on CBBC in the UK, a role which he has played since the show started in 2018. Previous work for Hunter has included Family Law, Two Sentence Horror Stories and the multi-award-winning short film No Internet. In 2017, Hunter played Caleb in The Exorcist and the following year, he was cast as Young Peter in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. We caught up with Hunter about voicing the role of Rodrick in Diary of a Wimpy Kid for Disney+, playing Tyler Flaherty in Holly Hobbie and filming Two Sentence Horror Stories.
Can you tell us about your character Tyler Flaherty in Holly Hobbie and what’s he like to play?
Tyler is the classic outsider, angsty, misunderstood loner type. He is a bit of a foil character to Holly in the show, but when push comes to save, he usually shows he actually does care and means well. Playing Tyler is honestly pretty funny because he’s kind of just a different shade of myself. So, if we’re doing a scene where it’s mostly banter, we’ll just bring however we talk day to day to the scene. Heck, in some ways I’d say he’s rubbed off on me as much as I rubbed off on him.
What do you remember from your first day on set and meeting the cast for the first time?
Oh, that was back when I was still in my shy, mid high school phase. What I do remember, from my point of view anyway, was everyone trying to figure each other out. Like “Okay, you seem nice, what is your personality like…?” I’d say once we started filming is when the ice started breaking and we got more acquainted.
Why do you think the show has proved popular around the world and why would you recommend watching it?
I’d say the reason it got so popular is because it’s one of those nice comfy watch shows, where it keeps it very light and easy-going. Even when the show does tackle pretty serious subject matter, it shows how one would get though it, so in someways it could even be found as educational. The musical element has definitely contributed to its success as well I’d say, due to music being such an integral part of living, mixing that with a comfy watch show is just a recipe for some nice storytelling. I’d recommend watching it because it’s a nice feel-good show, and I know everyone has that one go-to show when they need it, and I feel this could be one of those.
You voice the role of Rodrick in the new Disney+ animated reboot of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, what was it like to work on and how was it getting into character?
Working on that was surreal because I had grown up with the books so voicing a character was pre nuts. It was kind of funny too because before I started acting, I did some work as an extra, and funny enough, the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie was one of the projects I was an extra on. Getting into character was interesting, only because I’d been the younger brother in my real life, so to switch it and channel that older brother mentality was quite the change of pace.
How did you feel booking the role and do you have a favourite aspect of voicing Rodrick?
When the chance to voice a character, especially a lead, was given to me, I was astonished. Voicing Rodrick is honestly just pure fun, it’s just the voice director and I going back and forth for a handful of hours.
How much did you know about the Diary of a Wimpy Kid franchise before joining the cast and what originally drew you to the project?
Well, as I stated previously, I already had some history with it, so immediately I was wanting to get on top of everything and reread and rewatch everything I could. The fandom of Diary of a Wimpy Kid especially reawakened my interest, there are just troves and troves of memes, fan-made comics, and online discussions that made it hard not to get sucked into.
Is there anything you can tell us about Riceboy Sleeps?
Hmmmm, off the top of my head even I am unaware how much I can spill about that, but I will say working on that was one of the highlights of 2021. Creatively, it was a big departure from stuff I’ve done before but that in turn made it more fun. The cast, the crew, everything about that was just memorable and I’d definitely tell a lot of people to keep their eyes on that one.
You played Justin in Family Law last year, what was this like to do?
Again, just fun. I’ve never gotten a chance to play just an airhead teenager, so when the chance came along, I was just like, “Oh hell ya dude”.
Can you say about your episode of Two Sentence Horror Stories – Bag Man, in which you play Sam?
I wish it could’ve lasted longer, honestly. Working with the ensemble on that was great because we all just clicked immediately, so when it came time to shoot, it was no problem getting into a groove. There was also a surprising amount of Aussies working on that which made me happy because my mum’s side of the family is from Australia, so I was just like “Ah! My people!”. That was also the first project that I died in so I was really excited about that.
The short film No Internet has won numerous awards, can you tell us about the film?
It was blast working on No Internet because it was the first production where I was one of the older ones, so I took it upon myself to be a good influence as much as I could. The director, Kyle Lawrence, is also quite the renaissance man, doing a lot behind the scenes besides the directing, which I’d say deserves some applause.
What was it like being involved with the Netflix film To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before as Young Peter?
I’m going to be honest, a lot of stuff I do ends up being funny. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was especially funny because I filmed that summer of 2017, then it was released late summer of 2018, right before school started. So, as you can imagine, when school started people were asking a bunch of questions. One in particular was funny because I literally just stepped onto the school grounds and a gaggle of classmates all made eye contact with me, then started gunning over.
Having played Caleb in The Exorcist, do you have any stand-out memories from being part of the cast?
One of my favourite memories was probably being assigned to an acting teacher to practice being blind, due to Caleb being blind in the series. So, for days, I was walking around with my eyes closed, trying to navigate my way around, practice pouring water, eating, opening doors, everything, it did definitely prepare me for the future.
Can you tell us about some of the other screen projects you have been part of which have included Joey Panther in Gabby Duran & The Unsittables and Boa Alcazaba in Beyblade Burst?
Beyblade Burst was memorable because it was one of those licences that I knew prior to, so working on it was surreal. Working on Gabby Duran was memorable for a few unconventional reasons. One, a snow storm came in when we were filming so we would be shooting then immediately run for the heating. Two, I caught a horrible bug filming that, so while shooting I could feel a cough trying to work its way out, so I’d force it down until they called cut.
Do you have any favourite TV shows or films to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from acting?
My go-to shows are either character dramas or cartoons, but right now I’m either rewatching or in between shows, I haven’t found anything that’s gotten me hooked yet. Oooh! Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve got to watch the new season of Euphoria! That’s one I’m hooked on. So back it up, I lied, I am hooked on a show already.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
My love of acting has just always kind of been there. Like, I look back and I see playing LEGO with my brother and see that there were signs even there. Just time passed and I got lucky enough to find a job where I can pretty much play pretend for a living. I guess it’s some internal need to do it because if I don’t I feel like I’m a shrivelled up fruit.
What are you hoping 2022 brings for your career?
Something like a steak. Something juicy that I can just sink my teeth into and enjoy every bit of.
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