Frankie Muniz: ‘certain people were controlling’ on the set of Malcolm in the Middle

Frankie Muniz is on this season of the Australian version of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here. I kinda love that he’s just doing his thing because he wants to. Frankie doesn’t need to appear on reality TV shows – he’s a millionaire who still gets residual checks from Malcolm in the Middle. In fact, in a recent episode, Frankie told his fellow contestants that every few weeks, he gets residuals with a list of every country playing it in syndication.

Frankie has been sharing a lot about his days as a child star. Last week, he talked about how lucky he was to have had a very positive experience on set, despite having a lot of friends who had very negative experiences. I think the general feeling was a sense of relief that a set involving Bryan Cranston wasn’t problematic (or worse). Well, turns out that not everything was always perfect on the Malcolm set. According to Frankie, there are two episodes of the series that he’s not in. Frankie told his co-stars in Celebrity that he “walked off set” thanks to tensions created by “certain people.”

Frankie Muniz was the title star of hit sitcom Malcolm in the Middle, but now he’s explained why there are two entire episodes where he doesn’t appear after he walked off set. website reports that the American former actor was sharing confidences with his campmates in I’m A Celebrity Australia when he revealed:

“There were two episodes I’m not in. I walked off the set.” And he explained his actions were because tension on set had reached a boiling point, because of the behavior of other “certain people.”

“Everyone was so afraid to stand up when certain people were controlling or rude or disrespectful. Like they walked on pins and needles,” he remembered.

“I was so mortified by seeing people afraid to stand up for themselves, I was like: ‘Say something.’ I didn’t care if they told me I was never going back, because it was worth it to me. It helped that the show was based around me.”

Muniz, who starred as middle brother Malcolm in the hit show from 2000 to 2006, retired afterwards to become a racing driver, and revealed he had become much happier since leaving behind the entertainment industry and LA.

Before entering the South African jungle for I’m a Celebrity, he told

“I never felt like I fully fit in the Hollywood world, even though I was in the world. I was nominated for Emmys and Golden Globes, and I was going to all this stuff, and I was there, and I was like, how am I here? I hated LA, so I kind of stayed in my own little world, my own little bubble. And moving to Arizona, I did it on a whim, and I realized immediately that I started looking up. I started enjoying looking at trees and birds in the sky. Going to the grocery store was a fun thing. You don’t get that in LA. It’s a miserable experience.”

[From Deadline]

Major props to Frankie for standing up in protest. I know it was easier for him to do that because the show centered around him and that gave him the power to do so with less repercussions, but the fact that he thought to do it for others speaks volumes to his character. I tried to figure out who these certain difficult people may have been. My first thought was Chris Masterson, brother of Danny. I think we can eliminate Cranston and Jane Kaczmarek because both have reputations of being professional. Reddit seems to think that this went down during the end of Season 3 because Episode 19 is a clip show and Muniz barely appears in Episode 22. Reddit also filled in some of the blanks, saying that before this clip starts, Frankie was complaining about what a pain in the ass assistant directors can be, specifically venting about two unnamed ADs that frustrated him. Given the full context, it’s most likely that they were whom he’s referring to. But as I’ve never been on a film or TV set before, I honestly don’t know how much power ADs have. Either way, I hope Frankie’s protest wasn’t for naught and the rude, controlling parties were booted off set.

Photos credit: Deborah Feingold/FOX / Avalon and via Instagram

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24 Responses to “Frankie Muniz: ‘certain people were controlling’ on the set of Malcolm in the Middle”

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  1. It Really Is You, Not Me says:

    I’m curious to know more about the comment about a set involving Bryan Cranston. Are there rumors that HE is difficult? I read this as saying that he’s considered such a national treasure that no one wants to believe he could be problematic? And honestly I too thought, “Not Bryan Cranston!” When I first read the article.

    I never watched Malcolm in the Middle but now I am interested.

    • I’m watching “I’m a Celebrity…” and in that episode, Frankie has nothing but praise and admiration for Cranston. He said he has utmost respect for him and he uses him as an example of how to be a great person amongst the LA/Hollywood scene. Yay for them both!

    • JoanCallamezzo says:

      To It Really is You-you will be delighted by Bryan Cranston’s comedic chops in Malcolm. He has such a wide range you won’t believe it’s the same actor who plays Walter White. Jane K. is phenomenal as his wife on Malcolm and (!) Cloris Leachman plays her crazy mother.

    • Bettyrose says:

      We watched it faithfully during its original run. Absolutely brilliantly written and acted. That was a different era in television with much fewer options, but even now a truly great comedy is rare.

    • Rainbow Kitty says:

      I believe Cranston and his family took care of Frankie when his parents we not able to be there. IIRC, he stayed with the Cranston family for a bit. And Brian was like a second parent when his own couldn’t be there.

    • clarissa says:

      I’m super curious too. I did a cursory search and looks like he’s had a few blips but nothing so much that would cause that line

    • msmontclair says:

      I think it’s a wonky sentence. I had to read it a few times, originally thinking, ‘have I missed Bryan Cranston rumours?!’

      I could be wrong, but I think it’s more like, ‘ phew, Cranston still checks out as a good guy, nothing to see here.’

      • Rosie says:

        It’s just a wonky sentence! My bad lol. 🙂

        Cranston and Jane K both have really good reputations.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Bryan Cranston was not the problem. Years ago, a friend who worked on this show told me it was a very combative environment, but Bryan worked REALLY hard to be good to people, bring everyone together, look out for his coworkers, etc. it sounded like he was a truly good person in a tough situation. Others were butting heads.

    • Bad Janet says:

      By all accounts I have heard, Bryan Cranston is an absolutely lovely person.

      • bettyrose says:

        Keep those accounts coming. I don’t think anyone here can handle the heartbreak of Cranston being exposed as something awful.

  2. Jais says:

    Yep, the AD’s can really set a tone. Working with good ones compared to working with nightmare ones can make all the difference.

  3. Izzy says:

    He seems like he really has a good head on his shoulders. Good for him for recognizing that he wasn’t happy where he was.

  4. Bettyrose says:

    That just sounds like a job, though? We know Hollywood is rampant with abuse, but disagreements with a supervisor over how you do your job are present in every workplace.

    • North of Boston says:

      – “Everyone was so afraid to stand up when certain people were controlling or rude or disrespectful. Like they walked on pins and needles,” he remembered. –

      Controlling and rude and disrespectful – none of that is acceptable in a work environment and are the same as a disagreement with a supervisor. He’s basically describing a toxic workplace with a few individuals bringing the toxic.

      • Bettyrose says:

        That’s fair. I guess I’m just thinking that were so used to the unimaginable horror stories about kids in Hollywood, and this particular form of toxicity can occur in any workplace (lordknows I’ve experienced it). But most of us didn’t work as children. So there’s the difference.

      • North of Boston says:

        While it’s true that it unfortunately occurs in many workplaces, that doesn’t mean that people should tolerate it and that those who can push back (like FM refusing to be on set if that’s going on) shouldn’t push back.

        And there’s no “it wasn’t as bad as the really horrendous stuff” assessment needed – bad is bad, unacceptable is unacceptable, toxic is toxic.
        It’s dangerous to pull out the “it wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been” math, because that’s how you get things like people trying to escape abusive relationships and getting no legal or social support because people are all “it wasn’t THAT bad, it’s not like he beat you!” (No he just regularly screamed at her, hid her car keys, threatened her, smashed things in front of her, belittled her, threw himself into a rage if dinner wasn’t on the table, etc etc)

    • Sandra says:

      I mean, he was also a child so that makes a huge difference

    • tealily says:

      Yup, this type of thing can happen at any job, and I hope any of us would have the sense and ability to walk out. Good for him.

      • bettyrose says:

        I just want to acknowledge that it’s absolutely different for a child who doesn’t even have a fully formed brain, but when I found myself in a toxic work environment, it took a couple of years to plan an exit strategy. We were in a recession, and no way could I afford to just walk out, but knowing it was toxic and wouldn’t last forever helped. I actually love that Frankie decided to take a different path and raise his children with different goals. He was lucky to be on what was actually a really high quality show and be the central character, but good for him to put mental health over fame.

  5. DaveW says:

    Also find it hard to believe it was Bryan Cranston. He was on the Office Ladies pod and it was interesting to hear him talk about how important it was to have a life, other interests, engage with the world outside of the celebrity sphere, and to experience life to just experience life, not milling every interaction, etc. for a future acting job or story. He also joked about how he almost accidentally killed The Office cast (he directed Work Bus, there was a mishap with exhaust fumes getting pumped into the bus).

  6. Mario says:

    ADs have a lot of power, as they are responsible for keeping things on schedule, in order, and working as messengers and “enforcers” for the Director’s non-creative instructions/commands for the set. They can absolutely approach this in different ways, with some “feeling themselves” a bit and others simply taking a “yell and command” approach. Doing it well and balancing the human element is an art and a thing of beauty, but there are examples of people who are effective at the job but horrible to work for.