Miles Heizer plays Drew Holt on Parenthood, which airs on NBC at 10 p.m.

Miles Heizer

Apr 18, 2011 Web Exclusive
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16-year-old Miles Heizer plays the introverted, mature-minded Drew Holt on the NBC Tuesday-night drama Parenthood. Although Drew's sister, Amber (played by Mae Whitman), is a novice singer-songwriter with a giant-sized Tegan and Sara poster on her wall, Under the Radar learned, while looking into the show's occasional Tegan and Sara references, that Heizer is passionate about music and a fan of numerous indie-rock bands, with Beach House currently reigning supreme among them in his estimation. This writer spotted Heizer at a Lykke Li show in Los Angeles last month and struck up a conversation with him about music prior to the performance. With the season finale of Parenthood set to air tomorrow night, now seemed like a good time to find out more about Heizer, to continue the conversation about music, and to settle the mystery of the show's Tegan and Sara connections.

What's the deal with your IMDb photo? How old were you when that was taken?

Do you have any idea what it looks like? My favorite photo of myself on IMDb is one where I am embracing Jennifer Love Hewitt. We're both holding each other, and I'm not quite sure how the photo came about. It wasn't casual. We both had our arms around each other's waists, and I feel I was like 11 at the time. But yeah, the imdb photo, I haven't updated it or anything, and so I'm still very, very young in it. I haven't had new headshots in a long time, also.

Yeah, you're wearing a red jacket.

Yes, I did a McDonald's commercial, and they gave me that jacket, and I remember being really excited, and I wore it to take my headshot. So yeah, that's definitely the one. [Laughs]

On the other hand, the photo of you in the opening credits to Parenthood looks like it's not that old.

Yeah, I don't know where that picture came from. I think it's on set. I've definitely looked at it, and it appears that I'm in a transpo van maybe, and I think Max is sitting beside me. Because it's not that old. They asked for family photos to put in there, and I gave them a lot, but definitely not that. I think they took that of me unknowingly, and now there it is. And I'm smiling with my teeth, which is such a shock, 'cause I never do that.

Maybe that's what they wanted, a contrast with your character.

Yes, definitely.

What can we expect from tomorrow night's finale? Will there be some bombs dropped? In the ads, we've got Adam, Peter Krause's character, digging in the trash and finding a pregnancy test.

There are definitely some surprises that I am not at liberty to give away, but there's definitely some resolutions, which is a good thing. Everyone likes when issues are resolved. I think it's gonna be really good. I haven't seen it, but I'm sure it will come out very good, as most of the episodes do.

You had some intense scenes with Mae Whitman that aired a few weeks back, when Drew's dad (played by John Corbett) came back into the picture. On a show with so many characters and story arcs, do you get much time to prepare for those scenes and rehearse with Mae?

We definitely have time. We rehearse, and we could work on it outside of work, but at this point, I feel like Mae and I, especially, are extremely comfortable together, that we don't necessarily need a lot of time. A lot of our scenes are like that, where we're either mad at each other or discussing something with Lauren or about Lauren, so we're kind of used to that at this point. So I don't feel like we need as much time, but we definitely have time if we need it, which is very nice.

Does that comfort come from sharing scenes or from offscreen rapport?

I feel like it started from working together, but now it's like an offscreen For lack of a better explanation, we've bonded. At this point, we're all very comfortable with each other and talk a lot outside of work and do stuff together.

Sometimes Drew comes across as the calm, mature voice of reason when Sarah and Amber are having their issues with each other, but other times he seems sad and suppressing a lot of emotion. He seems like a pretty low-maintenance kid to me, but do you think there's a part of him that 's a ticking time bomb?

Sometimes I feel like yes, because I've had scenes where I kind of freak out, but not fully. There's never been a full crazy thing. Except, one time, I remember, it was scripted that I was to throw something off of the counter, and I did it, but I had mono when we shot it, so I don't think that the full commitment was there. I think that was supposed to be the crazy freak-out, but I was very ill. But I feel, a lot of times, Drew is very mature and there for the family as a mature voice, but then sometimes he's immature when it comes to things with his dad. So, I think it's a mix of both. He's still a kid.   

What was the audition process like for you?

It was really short. I was really shocked. I had never booked a pilot before this. I had gone on a lot of auditions, but I hadn't gotten that far for a TV show, so I assumed it would be a really long process, like screen testing with everyone else to see how we all worked together, but really I just went in and auditioned, and then I had a callback. But before the callback, I met with the director of the pilot, Tommy Schamme, and we just went over it a few times and did the scene, and he gave me a little more direction, like right before I met with our writer, Jason Katim. After that, I screen tested, technically, although it was just in a room with some of the people from NBC, and that was it. I was very, very shocked. I didn't get that excited about it, because I was like, "Oh, I don't know. I'm sure there's a lot more to go, and I'm sure there's a lot of people auditioning," but then, all of a sudden, it just happened.

At that stage, when you screen tested, did you know who else was attached to the show?

I knew that Peter was attached. I actually saw Peter at the audition. He had just come out. He was reading with people who were reading for the Christina role. At that point, I don't believe Maura Tierney, who was originally in the show before she got sick, I don't think she had been. But I feel like maybe Erika was also.

So you had the part before you knew who would be playing your mom and your sister.

Yeah, but I believe we were all cast around the same time, so I knew pretty fast.

You're originally from Kentucky?

I am, yeah.

How old were you when you moved to Los Angeles?

I was like 10 going on 11.

What triggered the move, to work as an actor?

Yeah, it was. Thinking back on it now, it's really crazy. With my logic now, I wouldn't be like, "Yeah, let's move to another state to do something that may or may not work out at all." But, at the time, I was young and really wanted to do it, and so yeah, we moved out here. My mom's a nurse, so she can get a job anywhere, pretty much. So yeah, on a whim, we moved out here.

And you have a sister, too, right?

I do have a sister.

And she was cool with that?

Well, at the time, she wasn't very happy about it, but we're really, really close, so I feel she wasn't really upset about it, and she respected that I wanted to do it, even though I was 10 years old [laughs]. It was kind of bad at first, but now she loves it.

She's older?

She's older. She just turned 20.

Was Los Angeles a culture shock?

I was only 10, so nothing hit me as hard as it probably did my sister and my mom, but since I've kinda grown up here now, and I go back to Kentucky, it's definitely very different. But I'm used to it now. So, it wasn't that big of a shock when I first got here, but there's big, big differences.

Do you get to go back much?

I do. I'm actually going back this summer for a pretty extended period of time. Typically, if we wanted to go back to Kentucky, our family in Kentucky usually would rather go to California. So they would come out here as opposed to us going out there, even though I really like going there, becausethis is so embarrassingbut the food is good, and so I always want to go back for that reason, and of course to see my family.

Do you drive?

I do drive. I got my license a few days after I could. I couldn't get my permit on time, for some reason, so, like three days after I turned 16, I got my license. I was so excited.

So, you've been going to some concerts lately, but that's a new thing for you?

Yeah, I didn't start going to concerts until I moved to California. When I was 10, it was in Kentucky, I had a love of Alicia Keys at the time, and that was the first concert I ever went to. But, for some reason, I can't count that as the first concert. It wasn't the same as when I went to one out here. That was the first time I really loved the music and really wanted to go, which was the Tegan and Sara concert, when I was 13, I think.

What was the venue?

It was at the Glass House in Pomona, which I love still. It's so small.

Was that for The Con tour?

That was for The Con, yeah, which is one of my favorite albums by them, so it was cool to get to go. And I'd just kind of discovered their music and really liked all of it, and so, it remains one of the best concerts I've ever been to.

So did your sister have to take you?

Yeah, my sister and I have the exact same taste in music. We're both very lucky in that aspect. If I go to any concert, I go with her pretty much. We have not gone together before, but it's because one of us desperately wanted to go but could not. So that worked out very well that we like the same music.

That Pomona show was one where they were selling their limited Con demos.

Yes, and to this day I am upset about that, because we didn't have money in our pocket, so we went out to the car, and of course, by the time we got back to the venue, the line for that was so far. They had already said they didn't have very many. And yeah, I was really sad. I have heard all of the demos, but to have that hard copy And I love the artist who does their artwork? So, I also just wanted the cover and stuff for the artwork.

Would that be Emy Storey?

Yes, that would be.

What are some good shows you've seen recently?

I actually went to Coachella. I just arrived back last night. So I saw some good ones there. It's so cliché, but I really loved Arcade Fire.

Yeah, all the reports I saw said they killed.

Yeah, it was really good. It was strange seeing them, because they were headlining, and I had never really been to a big concert. Most of the shows I go to are pretty small, and so it was the first time I'd ever seen a really big setup like that, with a lot of lights and screens and stuff like that. It was pretty interesting, and I like a lot of their music. It was very fun. Also at Coachella, I really loved Twin Shadow. They're on of my favorite bands, and they were really great, too. But I also went to the Dodos concert at the El Rey, and they were so good. It was so much fun.

Since you were at Coachella, you didn't head anywhere for Record Store Day.

No. they had a setup for Record Store Day, but it was mainly people that were playing there. They were releasing some limited stuff.

Do you own any vinyl?

I do, actually. Not much. I have four records, but I'm trying to build up a collection now.

Are we talking 7" records or albums?

I have the albums?

Do you play them?

No, 'cause I don't have a record player. And I also have this struggle where I don't want to open them, but I need to. I should get over that. Once I buy a record player— This is awful, but it's true: There's this record player on set, that I'm convinced I'm gonna take one day. I've definitely asked about it, I'm like, "What is that? Can I have that?" And they're like, "Yeah, just ask set design." And I never have, but I want it really badly, 'cause that's probably what I'm gonna be banking on.

So, currently, all of your vinyl is still sealed?

Except one, I opened one out of excitement, and then realized I can't ever play it. Well, until I have a record player.

You said there are four of them?

The first one I got was the soundtrack to the movie Once, which one of my friends got me, which I really love. And then next I bought The Con. And then, the last two, I went to a Beach House concert at the Music Box and bought Devotion, which is, I don't want to say this but I will, I feel like it's my favorite album of all-time. So, I bought that, and then recently, I was going to see The Submarines do an in-store, and they were selling Beach House, their self-titled, their first album, so I bought that one, too. Those are the four I have, currently.

Did you see The Swell Season at Coachella?

No, because they were playing at the same time as Animal Collective, and I regret it. I should have gone. But I also wanted to stay in the crowd to get closer for Arcade Fire. There was a big dilemma. I really wanted to.

Now that you've done the Coachella thing, is there still a band that you're dying to see live?

I really like Ohbijou. Maybe they're not popular enough, I have never seen them. And also, I Heart Hiroshima, they're from Australia, and I don't feel like they've ever played anything in L.A. I would love to see both of them; that'd be really exciting.

What is on heavy rotation for you right now?

Along with people I would love to see is First Aid Kit. They've been on heavy rotation recently. Recently, with one of my friends, we went to an open mic night and played on of their songs. I think that expresses the love of them right now.

You gotta tell me the song.

"Tangerine," which is possibly my favorite. It definitely is. But also, a few bands have albums coming out. I know tUnE-yArDs has a new album coming out today, which will definitely be on heavy rotation. And then, The Submarines have a new album that I really like a lot that I've been listening to. And then, The Dodos have a new album that was on heavy rotation for a while that I really, really liked a lot.

So how did this open mic setup work? Did you sing?

[Laughs] It was very simplistic. I really like old keyboards, so I have a few, and I took one of those. It's like a PortaSound, old Yamaha, and I went up there, and we played two songs. I used that for one, and then for "Tangerine" just played the guitar and my friend and I both sang. The first one was "Saltwater," of course, by Beach House. I don't know why we did it. It was a really last-minute thing that we both randomly decided to do, but it was very fun.

Are you ever concerned that someone might have a phone or camera, and this might end up on YouTube?

[Laughs] Well, considering the venue, I'm gonna say no. I also have kind of thought about it, and I feel like it would be OK. I had fun, and hopefully it was OK, it was decent. So, I wouldn't care.

So, the reason I felt compelled to introduce myself at the Lykke Li show is because I noticed your Tegan Macbeth shoes.

Oh my gosh, yes. Well, the truth is, I'm pretty sure those are girls shoes, but, at the time, it was at the peak of me being such a huge fan, that I didn't care that they were girls shoes. And I bought them and, of course, still wear them. I also bought the white ones, which I never wear because they'll get dirty. And I don't want them to get dirty at all. So I don't wear those as much. But yes, I also feel a connection if I see someone wearing those. I get really excited and feel like I have to say something, and I have.

And that brings us back to Parenthood. What's the deal with the Sainthood poster in Amber's room. Whose idea was that?

The poster in Amber's room is a debacle at this point. Our set dec, they knew I really liked Tegan and Sara, and so, Season 1, they got that for my bedroom. It was probably right around when Sainthood came out or a little after. So they got that for my room; I was very excited, 'cause I loved Tegan and Sara. Then, one day, Mae was shooting, and she sent me a picture of her wall, and the set that's her room, and the poster was on her wall, and I was like, "I don't understand. Why did they move it?" And she was like, "I stole it." So Mae has now stolen it and inserted it in her room. And the next time I worked, I took it off her wall and put it back on my wall, but since then, she's taken it back and put it on her wall. So, now it's just a thing; whoever's working and feels they have the energy to remove it and reapply it, we just put it back and forth between each other's rooms, because we're both fans.

And did the song "Hell" being in an episode have anything to do with this?

Mmm, I would say yes. They probably knew I liked them and Mae liked them. And so, they threw it in there. I didn't pitch it necessarily, but I feel like that was probably how they knew. Hopefully. That's what I want to believe, that it was 100 percent because I liked them. But, maybe, maybe not.

www.nbc.com/parenthood



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George Johnson
April 4th 2012
11:06am

I love the show I feel you did an EXCELLENT job in the season finale of culminating your romance. Not at all trashy and very respectful. Thank you for playing it like it should be…