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PROFILE | Frankie Muniz Actor did more than stay alive


Published: Fri, March 24, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


If there's anything to scream about for Muniz, it's finding the love of his life.
By TERRY MORROW
SCRIPPS HOWARD
"Stay Alive" changed Frankie Muniz's life.
Work on the horror film, in theaters today, took him to New Orleans more than a year ago. There met a local hairdresser, Jamie Gandy, fell in love and decided to get married.
"We met while I was out on the town, while I was making this film," he says.
He proposed seven weeks later. They are planning on a summer wedding.
Muniz was 19 when he made "Stay Alive," about a killer video game in which players meet the same fate as the characters in the game.
Muniz says he never thought the movie role would alter his life. But it's led to major lifestyle shifts he never anticipated a year ago.
"I plan to move to New Orleans this summer and leave Los Angeles behind," says the 20-year-old actor known best as the star of "Malcolm in the Middle."
"New Orleans is where she was born and raised. We want to leave L.A., and New Orleans is where she is the happiest."
Why not?
While it might be more difficult for Muniz to continue doing television if he lives in New Orleans, he says film work should be no problem. "Movies aren't made in Hollywood anymore anyway," he says.
"Malcolm," which is ending its run in May, was Muniz's big break. It propelled him from an unknown child actor to a prime time star. It also opened the door for feature films such as "My Dog Skip" and "Agent Cody Banks."
In addition to "Stay Alive," Muniz has just completed work on an independent film called "My Sexiest Year," a rare dramatic role.
After that, he says he plans to take a break.
Moving to New Orleans will allow him to do it. Until he met his bride-to-be, he never thought about taking a break from acting. Muniz could bloom at this stage of his career. He's free of the obligation of a weekly series, has a loyal following and is the ripe to make coming-of-age films.
He's certain that he will not be doing series television for the next few years.
"It's time to start a new chapter, to start fresh," he says. "I guess after 'Malcolm' we'll see what that means. I don't really know. I don't know what I want to do next."
Making the move
Muniz admits his decision to leave Hollywood hasn't isn't a popular one, but in some sense, it's his declaration of independence.
"Ninety percent of the people who come up to me say I am making a mistake," Muniz says. "They say I should not get married. I should wait. Ninety percent of the people tell me I am going to fail.
"This is crazy to me. Ten percent of the people tell me congratulations. They don't tell me not to get married, not to take time off. No matter what anyone says, whatever anybody says, makes me feel good. Whatever people say, I want to be with her.
"If I ran into someone I knew that was getting married, I would never say to them, 'Dude, you're stupid."'
Muniz says he's growing up, and the world needs to accept it.
"If I am making a mistake then I need to be the one who makes the mistake," he says. "Life is all about learning and growing. I can't do that if other people tell me what to do.
"Growing up has never scared me until last year. I started thinking about getting older, being an adult, and it scared me. Hopefully things will work out in my career. If they don't then it was never meant to be."
Moving to the city that was flattened by a hurricane only last fall does not bother Muniz either. He and Gandy were in New Orleans when the storm hit.


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