December 5, 1985 • Wood-Ridge, New Jersey
Frankie Muniz initially became famous in 2000 as Malcolm, the boy genius in the Fox comedy Malcolm in the Middle. Prior to that role, he had performed in plays, television commercials, and even a few movies. Since the start of Malcolm in the Middle, Muniz has spent as much time as possible working, squeezing feature film roles into the months when the television series takes a break. This hectic pace satisfies the teenager, who has energy to burn and claims to hate inactivity. He told Barry Koltnow in a 2002 article for the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service that he had had only three days off in the year prior, "and I was never so bored in my entire life. I had no idea what to do with myself for those three days." In addition to his role as Malcolm, Muniz has garnered attention for his role as a junior James Bond in two kid-oriented spy movies, Agent Cody Banks (2003) and Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London (2004).
Francisco James Muniz IV was born in 1985 in Wood-Ridge, New Jersey. His family—which includes dad Frank, mom Denise, and big sister Christina—moved to North Carolina when Frankie was four years old. A few years later, when he was eight, he watched his sister perform in a local play. He knew immediately that he wanted to perform, and soon after that, he earned his first role, that of Tiny Tim in a regional production of English author Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Additional theater work followed, and Muniz began acting in television commercials as well. He started winning parts in films, including the television movies To Dance with Olivia and What the Deaf Man Heard, both broadcast in 1997. At the age of eleven, Muniz moved back to New Jersey with his mother and sister, after his parents had decided to separate. At the same time, he stopped attending school and began to be home-schooled by his mother, an arrangement that gave him the flexibility to accept acting jobs without having to worry about a school schedule.
"I don't consider myself a good actor at all. I just do what I want to do, and I'm just having fun doing it."
The acting jobs arrived one right after another, with Muniz appearing as a guest on several sitcoms, including Spin City. He began earning more film roles, and appeared in his breakthrough film in 2000. Cast as the young Willie Morris—the author of the autobiographical book the movie was based on—Muniz appeared in My Dog Skip alongside Kevin Bacon, Diane Lane, and Luke Wilson. The film, set in the 1940s-era South, depicts the pleasures, fears, and sorrows of Morris's childhood, focusing on the lessons he learned from his beloved dog Skip. While some critics felt the film was a bit sappy and melodramatic, many acknowledged the touching relationship between the boy and his dog. Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle praised Muniz's performance: "Frankie Muniz, with vulnerability and wide-eyed innocence, charms as young Willie."
Muniz as Malcolm
My Dog Skip was released during the same year that Muniz began his stint on Malcolm in the Middle. When he auditioned for the role, he felt certain he would not get it. Thirteen years old at the time, he thought he was too old to play the much younger Malcolm. The show's producers, on the other hand, knew instinctively that he was the right person for the job. They had prepared themselves for a difficult search to find an actor who could project Malcolm's unusual intelligence and wisdom and yet still be believable as a regular kid with regular kid problems. The show's creator and executive producer, Linwood Boomer, told Brian Raftery of Entertainment Weekly that he had asked himself, "Where are we going to find a kid who can do all this?"After seeing Muniz, Boomer knew the search was over: "It was so obvious [it would be Muniz] right from the get-go."
Audiences and critics agreed with Boomer, quickly warming to the young star and appreciating the show's offbeat sense of humor and fresh take on family life. The members of the fictional Wilkersons family included the eldest brother, Francis, who had been sent to military school when the series began; Reese, whose violent tendencies cause many of Malcolm's problems; Malcolm, whose IQ test places him in the genius range and sets him uncomfortably apart from his friends and the rest of his family; and Dewey, who often plays the role of unaffected observer when the family circus reaches catastrophic levels. The constantly squabbling children are led by their father, Hal, who behaves as much like a child as do his children, and their mother, Lois, who rules the household with an iron fist and a raised voice. As Malcolm, Muniz is the voice of reason in an otherwise unhinged family. He often speaks directly to the camera, describing his frustration when things go wrong and his amazement when he gets away with something. Muniz inhabited his character very comfortably right from the start, impressing audiences with his intelligent, wisecracking ways.
After wetting his feet with Malcolm and earning a nomination for an Emmy Award in 2001, Muniz returned to the big screen, starring in Big Fat Liar with fellow teen star Amanda Bynes. Muniz plays Jason, a boy from Michigan who enjoys stretching the truth and occasionally takes his tales a bit too far. In trouble with his parents and teachers, Jason attempts to fix things by hastily writing a story for school called "Big Fat Liar." Before he has the chance to turn it in, the story is stolen by a once-successful Hollywood producer desperate for a hit. When Jason discovers that his story is the basis for a new movie, he and pal Kaylee (Bynes) take off for Los Angeles, to seek revenge as well as credit for Jason as the story's writer. The film earned many positive reviews, with journalists singling out Muniz for his natural acting and comedic timing. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle described the young actor as "spunky and likable, with no weird Hollywood vibe about him."
In his next film, Deuces Wild (2002), Muniz plays a young wannabe tough guy caught up in gang conflicts in 1950s-era Brooklyn. The film was not a critical or box office success, but Muniz made up for the disappointment with his next film, Agent Cody Banks, released in 2003. Playing the teenaged spy of the film's title, Muniz added to his acting skills with the action-filled role. He spent weeks physically preparing for the role, lifting weights and learning martial arts moves. Muniz plays a character who secretly becomes a CIA agent at the age of thirteen. He has at his disposal a number of nifty gadgets and cool vehicles, but his assignment nonetheless proves difficult, requiring him to excel in his one area of weakness: talking to girls. Banks must befriend an attractive girl, played by teen queen Hilary Duff, to get his hands on her father's invention—which has the power to cause serious global damage if it falls into the hands of the bad guys.
Muniz and the film itself were so successful that the studio, MGM, called for a sequel, with Muniz once again playing Banks. Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London sent the youthful spy across the Atlantic Ocean to once again attempt to save the world from power-hungry villains. Young Agent Banks is paired, to comic effect, with comedian/actor Anthony Anderson, and he once again must navigate conversations with a beautiful girl in the form of British secret agent Emily, played by Hannah Spearritt. The two films combined earned nearly $75 million at the box office, prompting many to speculate on the possibility of a third Cody Banks picture.
Receiving $5 million for the second Agent Cody Banks, Muniz is enjoying his wealth and his active lifestyle. He is an avid basketball player and golfer, and has been playing the drums for many years. He has also attracted attention with his passion for cars. Even before he had gotten his driver's license, Muniz had purchased several cars. Among his stable of vehicles is the Volkswagen Jetta driven in the movie The Fast and the Furious (2001), which the actor purchased for $100,000, and a rare Porsche that cost the actor $250,000.
Once he turned eighteen, Muniz began thinking more and more about what people had been telling him for years: that he would soon have to make the transition to more adult-oriented fare in order to have a long-term acting career. In a 2004 interview with Cinema Confidential 's Shawn Adler, Muniz confessed that he wasn't sure how to proceed or which project to pursue next. "It's tough choosing the right one. It really needs to be something different, but I can't go totally away from my core audience of twelve to eighteen. So it's got to be the right movie that people will look at and not just say, 'Oh, that's him trying to be dramatic. That's him trying to make the transition.' I need to be very believable."
For More Information
Bark, Ed. "No Stature of Limitations for Malcolm Star Frankie Muniz." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (August 13, 2001): p. K4035.
"Brainiacs and Maniacs." Time (January 17, 2000): p. 89.
Koltnow, Barry. "Malcolm in the Middle 's Star Tries His Hand at Big-Screen Comedy." Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service (February 7, 2002): p. K3059.
LaSalle, Mick. "Big Fat Liar. " San Francisco Chronicle (February 8, 2002).
Peters, Jennifer L. "Muniz Plays Malcolm." Know Your World Extra (February 22, 2002): p. 4.
Raftery, Brian M. "Frankie Goes to Hollywood." Entertainment Weekly (January 14, 2000): p. 38.
Stack, Peter. "Uplifting Skip Takes a Boy and His Dog into Fresh Territory." San Francisco Chronicle (March 3, 2000): p. C1.
Adler, Shawn. "Interview." Cinema Confidential. http://www.cinecon.com/news.php?id=0403092 (accessed on July 27, 2004).
Gallagher, Todd. "10 Burning Questions for Frankie Muniz." ESPN.com. http://espn.go.com/page2/s/questions/muniz.html (accessed on July 27, 2004).
"Muniz, Frankie." UXL Newsmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/general/culture-magazines/muniz-frankie
"Muniz, Frankie." UXL Newsmakers. . Retrieved September 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/general/culture-magazines/muniz-frankie
Muniz, Frankie 1985–
MUNIZ, Frankie 1985–
Born December 5, 1985, in Wood Ridge, NJ; son of Frank (a restaurant manager) and Denise Muniz. Education: Home-schooled. Avocational Interests: Golf.
Addresses: Agent—International Creative Agency, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211. Contact—c/o Celebrity Kidz, PO Box 950802, Kissimmee, FL 34745. Office—c/o Twentieth Century-Fox, P.O. Box 900, Beverly Hills, CA 90213. Lawyer—Jackoway, Tyerman, Wertheimer, Austen, Mandelbaum & Morris, 1888, Century Park East, Eighteenth Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Manager—3 Arts Entertainment, 9460 Wilshire Blvd., Seventh Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.
Career: Actor. Appeared in television commercials for Dorito's 3D Snack Chips, 2002.
Awards, Honors: Young Artist Award nomination and YoungStar Award nomination, best performance in a tv movie, 1998, for What The Deaf Man Heard; Bronze Gryphon, free to fly section—best actor, Giffoni Film Festival, Sierra Award, Youth in Film, Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards, YoungStar Award nomination, best young actor, 2000, Young Artist Award, best ensemble in a feature film (with others), 2001, for My Dog Skip; Young Artist Award nomination, best performance in a tv movie, 2001, for Miracle in Lane 2; Television Critics Association Award nomination, individual achievement in comedy, YoungStar Awards, best young actor and best young ensemble cast (with others), 2000, Young Artist Award nomination, best young ensemble cast (with others), 2001 and 2002, Young Artist Awards, best young actor, 2001 and 2002, Young Artist Award nomination, best young actor, Young Artist Awards, best young ensemble cast (with others), 2003, Emmy Award nomination, outstanding lead actor in a comedy series, Golden Satellite Award, best performance by an actor in a series, TV Guide Award nomination, breakout star of the year, 2001, Golden Globe Award nominations, best performance by an actor in a television series, 2001 and 2002, Blimp Award nomination, favorite tv actor, 2002 and 2005, Blimp Award, favorite television actor, 2003 and 2004, Teen Choice Award nomination, choice tv actor—comedy, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005, for Malcolm in the Middle; Teen Choice Award nomination, choice movie actor, 2003, Saturn Award nomination, best performance by a younger actor, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, Young Artist Award nomination, best performance in a feature film, 2004, for Agent Cody Banks.
Franklin, It Had to Be You, 1998.
Boy on TV, Lost & Found, 1999.
Little Man, 1999.
Scooch, Deuces Wild, 2000.
Willie Morris, My Dog Skip, Warner Bros., 2000.
Voice of boy bear cub, Dr. Dolittle 2 (also known as DR.2 and DR2), Twentieth Century-Fox, 2001.
Jason Shepherd, Big Fat Liar (also known as Lugen haben kurze beine), Universal, 2002.
Cody Banks, Agent Cody Banks (also known as L'Agent Cody Banks), Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2003.
(Uncredited) Stuck on You, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2003.
Cody Banks, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 2004.
Voice of Stripes, Racing Stripes, Warner Bros., 2005.
Benjamin North, Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman (video), 2005.
Film Executive Producer:
Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman (video), 2005.
Television Appearance; Series:
Malcolm, Malcolm in the Middle, Fox, 2000–.
Express Yourself, Disney Channel, 2001.
Voice of Chester McBadbat, The Fairly OddParents (animated), Nickelodeon, 2001–2003.
Voice of Mosley "Mo" Moville, Moville Mysteries (animated), YTV, 2002.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Oscar, To Dance With Olivia, CBS, 1997.
Young Sammy, What the Deaf Man Heard, CBS, 1997.
Justin Yoder, Miracle in Lane 2, Disney Channel, 2000.
Voice of Chester, Abra—Catastrophe! (animated), Nickelodeon, 2003.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Derek, "Three Men and a Little Lady," Spin City, ABC, 1998.
Derek, "The Kidney's All Right," Spin City, ABC, 1998.
Angelo, "Sabrina the Matchmaker," Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, ABC, 1998.
Panelist, The List, VH1, 1999.
Live with Regis and Kelly, syndicated, 2000 and 2003.
The Daily Show, Comedy Central, 2000.
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 2000.
Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC, 2000 and 2005.
Mad TV, Fox, 2000, 2001 and 2004.
Voice of Thelonious, "Trilogy of Error," The Simpsons (animated), Fox, 2001.
The Priory, Channel 4 (England), 2001.
Live & Kicking, 2001.
The Andy Dick Show, MTV, 2001.
Celebrity Undercover, MTV, 2001.
Hollywood Unleashed, Animal Planet, 2001.
Total Access 24/7, Fox Family, 2001.
Nick Galenti, "Too Damn Good," Titus, Fox, 2002.
"Nick Takes Over Hollywood," The Nick Cannon Show, Nickelodeon, 2002.
Joey Davola, "Camp Nowhere: Part 1," The Nightmare Room, The WB, 2002.
"Mothers Day Special," Australia's Funniest Home Video Show, Nine Network, 2002.
"Lizzie in the Middle," Lizzie McGuire, Disney Channel, 2002.
Voice of Willie Augie, "Test of the Tested," Fillmore! (animated), ABC, 2002.
Voice of Tony, "A Wurm in Our Midst," Fillmore! (animated), ABC, 2002.
"Young Hollywood: Players or Played Out?," Rank, E! Entertainment, 2002.
Judge (three episodes), Pet Star, Animal Planet, 2003.
Punk'd, MTV, 2003.
Voice of Frankie, Clifford the Big Red Dog (animated), PBS, 2003.
Tinseltown TV, International Chanel, 2004.
(Two episodes) Total Request Live, MTV, 2004.
American Idol: The Search for a Superstar, Fox, 2004.
The Tony Danza Show, syndicated, 2004 and 2005.
The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn, CBS, 2004.
Richard & Judy, Channel 4, 2005.
Ministry of Mayhem, ITV (England), 2005.
Ireland AM, 2005.
"Breaking Into the Big Time," My Crazy Life, E! Entertainment, 2005.
Also appeared in Another World; Silk Stalkings.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Walt Disney World 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, ABC, 2000.
Total Access 24/7 (documentary), Fox Family, 2000.
FOX Fall Preview Special, Fox, 2000.
Host, 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games, PAX, 2001.
NBA All-Star Read to Achieve Celebration, Nickelodeon, 2002.
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Tom Hanks, USA Network, 2002.
Real Access: Hot 24 in 2004, The N, 2003.
Interviewee, American Idol: The Phenomenon, Fox, 2004.
Frankie Muniz HoopLA Celebrity Basketball Event, Fox Sports, 2004.
Host, All That 10th Anniversary Reunion Special, Nickelodeon, 2005.
Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:
Cohost, The 13th Annual Kids' Choice Awards, Nickelodeon, 2000.
The 2nd Annual TV Guide Awards, 2000.
The 14th Annual American Comedy Awards, 2000.
2000 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2000.
2000 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 2000.
The 6th Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2000.
Presenter, The 2000 Teen Choice Awards, Fox, 2000.
Presenter, 14th Annual Genesis Awards, Animal Planet, 2000.
Presenter, Nickelodeon's 14th Annual Kids' Choice Awards, Nickelodeon, 2001.
The 7th Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2001.
Presenter, The 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, CBS, 2001.
The 2001 Teen Choice Awards, Fox, 2001.
2001 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, Fox, 2001.
The 59th Annual Golden Globe Awards, NBC, 2002.
The Teen Choice Awards 2002, Fox, 2002.
The 54th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, NBC, 2002.
VH1 Big In 2002 Awards, VH1, 2002.
Presenter, The 29th Annual American Music Awards, ABC, 2002.
Presenter, VH1 Big In '03, VH1, 2003.
Presenter, Nickelodeon's 16th Annual Kids' Choice Awards, Nickelodeon, 2003.
Video Game Awards 2004, Spike TV, 2004.
Presenter, Nickelodeon's 17th Annual Kids' Choice Awards, Nickelodeon, 2004.
Presenter, The 9th Annual Critics' Choice Awards, E! Entertainment, 2004.
Presenter, Nickelodeon's 18th Annual Kids' Choice Awards, Nickelodeon, 2005.
The Sound of Music, North Carolina Stage Production, 1997.
Also appeared in A Christmas Carol; The Wizard of Oz; Our Town; The Death of Papa.
Voice of Domino, 102 Dalmatians: Puppies to the Rescue, Nintendo, 2000.
"Muniz, Frankie 1985–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/muniz-frankie-1985
"Muniz, Frankie 1985–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved September 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/muniz-frankie-1985