For Alabama-native Austin Fryberger, acting was not something that he initially saw himself doing, but it’s undoubtedly an industry that he thrives in. The young actor has been involved in a multitude of projects, including the short film Surprise and MTV’s television series Awkwardness. His most notable roles are that of Pearly Todd on Disney XD’s Kirby Buckets and Justin Fever on Nickelodeon’s Sam & Cat, opposite Ariana Grande. In addition, he’s not only set to star in the Disney Channel’s Invisible Sister premiering this October, but he can also be seen in The Night Stalker opposite Bellamy Young and Lou Diamond Philips, and is currently filming the pilot of Amazon’s Highston. I recently got the opportunity to chat with this talented young actor about his upcoming projects, his love of Kendrick Lamar and how much he wants to play a gangster in the future. Check it out below!
What inspired you to go into acting?
“Growing up, I wasn’t someone who would ever consider himself someone who would go into the film industry. I always had the idea in the back of my head, but I never really tried to pursue it. But then when I was 14 or 15, I was trying to figure out what exactly my future plans would be, and so when I got into acting, it was sort of like “I’m just going to try it out to see if I could make it into a career at one point.” When I first talked to my manager, who’s still my manager today which really helps me out in my career, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but when she started talking to me that first year, I began to fall in love with the film industry and all the different characters that you can play, and it really interested me. So, I guess it kinda really grew as soon as I started trying to do it.”
When you were a kid, what did you envision yourself doing?
“I had a lot of phases when I was growing up, so I remember at one point that I wanted to go into the military. For the most part, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do, but when I figured out acting, it really took the main place in my priorities.”
What actors do you look up to, and why?
“There are quite a few. I really like Marlon Brando; I feel like he’s amazing. He’s different. But I feel like he’s an incredible actor. Also, Robert de Niro—I’m one of his biggest fans, as well as Sam Rockwell for his quirkiness in every character that he plays. I also really like Joaquin Phoenix. But, another person that inspires me is Kendrick Lamar. He’s a really cool dude, and he’s really real. And he’s got a good message—I like that. I feel like he’s really inspiring to any upcoming artist.”
What’s your favorite song of his?
“It’s so hard to pick! I like a lot of his older stuff, like the Overly Dedicated mixtape that he released way before anyone knew who he was. I just have to say any song on that, like Ignorance is Bliss, Average Joe, The Heart Pt. 2. Just really that whole mixtape, I’d have to say. And of course Section 80 is another masterpiece, and then he came out with his more mainstream one, good kid, m .A. A. d city. But his older stuff is my favorite.”
Let’s talk about Invisible Sister for a little bit. What do you think viewers are going to enjoy the most about it?
“They’re really gonna like—there’s really a lot of comedy in the whole movie, but as much as there is comedy, there is a lot of drama. You know, we’re trying to figure out a way to turn her back from invisible into a normal human being, so there’s a lot of suspense that goes with that, so I think that they’ll really love that.”
What appealed to you about the character “the Coug” in Invisible Sister?
“The character is like 95% me, so everything about him I found to be fascinating, such as how outgoing he is. He’s kind of a wild kind of character, which I guess is where he gets the nickname “the Coug”. But he’s also really loving and he’s very protective of his girlfriend as well, and he’s just like a huge goofball.”
So what is his actual name?
“His actual name is Colin Horowitz. But I like “the Coug” more!”
Besides being Molly’s boyfriend, what kind of relationship does he have with the rest of the characters?
“You know, Karan’s character, George, he’s like Molly’s little sister’s best friend, so I always look at him like “Hey, what’s up, little dude?” It’s not really like I’m trying to make fun of him, but more like I’m trying to have fun with him. Like, I’ll forget his name or just call him “little guy” or something. But pretty much, I really just have a big relationship with Molly. You don’t really see too much other interaction except at the end of the movie when everyone has to join and try to figure out how to solve this. That’s when I really start to get to know the rest of the cast of the movie.”
What was it like working with Rowan, Paris, Karan and Rachel? Do you have any funny memories from filming that you’d like to share?
“It was amazing. Everyone was really cool. We all hung out while we were on set. I still hang out with most of the cast afterwards. We had a great time filming in New Orleans, which was another cherry on the top, you know. It was all very surreal to me when we were shooting because everyone was just having a fun time, so it really didn’t feel like work at all. One of my favorite memories is when I’m in a bear suit, like a bear costume, for a good portion of the whole film, so I found that to be really fun. It was a really goofy costume which really heightened my character, but also I get sweaty on set, so that was always fun too, because hair and makeup had to keep coming and patting me down. I had like a whole team, a pit crew you could call it, to fix my hair and make-up after every take. Yeah, I’m a bit of a sweater!”
Was that your first time shooting in New Orleans?
“It was my first time shooting off location in general, so it was six weeks of working in New Orleans and it was really cool.”
If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
“Oh gosh, I would probably go to an NFL game and just kinda mess with the whole game!”
In addition to being in Invisible Sister, you’re also going to be in “The Night Stalker.” How difficult was it to go from being in a comedy to being in a thriller?
“I wouldn’t say that it was that much different. I play this character who’s a teenage football kind-of-guy. I mean, there were some differences, but it was really easy for me to switch characters on a dime. It wasn’t too challenging.”
If you could play any character in any show or movie, who would it be and why?
“That is a good question…there are a lot of good characters out there, but if I had to go with one, I’d have to go with a gangster type. I just feel like that would be so much fun to play. Everything they do is just so subtle, and I love it.”
Have you seen pretty much every gangster movie ever made?
“I’ve seen quite a few! I love that kind of stuff, you know like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. Yeah, they’re really cool—I mean, they are a little violent, but that’s all part of the movie industry. You know, it’s not real; it’s pretend stories so I like all the little concepts that you can throw in.”
Invisible Sister premieres October 9th on the Disney Channel! You can also follow Austin on Twitter at @AustinFryberger