It was easy to trade Hollywood stardom for NASCAR, says Frankie Muniz

Frankie Muniz doesn’t mind if you still think of him as Malcolm, the wise-cracking main character of the hit sitcom “Malcolm in the Middle,” which, during its seven seasons, made him an international star.

But since the show ended in 2006, Muniz’s career has him spending less time in Hollywood and more time pursuing other interests: play drums In a touring band for a few years starting in 2012, he bought Trade in olive oil In 2019, and especially, he had an on and off career as a professional race car driver.

The 37-year-old tells Made by CNBC His broad interests come from a desire “to live the most fulfilling life that I can”.

“I always felt like I was running out of time,” he says. “Even as a kid, I felt like I needed to take advantage of the opportunity to do things.”

I don’t do this as a hobby. If I wanted to race cars, I could do it on a much lower level and just as much fun. I want to climb to the top.

This is how the “Agent Cody Banks” star found himself back in the driver’s seat after a 13-year hiatus, even after his last stint as a racer ended in a serious accident. broke his back He injured his hands and ribs.

The Emmy and Golden Globe nominated actor announced earlier this month that he would Compete full time in the NASCAR-owned ARCA Series. Muñiz says his return to racing isn’t just for fun: He’s showing up to compete and, hopefully, win.

Frankie Muniz during the 30th Anniversary Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race in 2006.

Jason Merritt | Movie Magic | Getty Images

“I don’t do this as a hobby,” he says. “If I wanted to race cars, I could do it on a much lower level and have just as much fun. I want to get to the top, and I’m going to do it.”

The lifelong racing enthusiast currently spends more than 2 hours a day in the gym training his body for the physical intensity of driving a racing car, in addition to several other things every day studying movies. When it was his first race in Daytona International Speedway On February 18, Muniz’s days will be as long as 15 hours.

“I train as much as I can,” he told Make It. “Compete with other people, it’s their life. It’s what they do for a living to put food on the table. When you’re competing against people who dedicate their lives to it, you have to do the same for them to compete.”

Below, Muniz discusses his approach to racing, his passions so wide, as well as why he doesn’t mind when people still call him “Malcolm.”

How is it for a former child star to be the biggest contestant in the room

At the height of my acting career, I wasn’t the King. I was the funny awkward little kid. I grew up in an adult business surrounded by older people.

And now I find it really interesting that some of my competitors’ parents are like, “Oh my God, I grew up on your show, and we’re the same age!” And I’m like, How old am I as my parents are to the people who race? It’s a weird idea.

Frankie Muniz and co-star Jane Kachmarek during the “Malcolm in the Middle” press tour in 2000.

Kevin Winter | Holton Archive | Getty Images

When I hear someone say “I’m 23 or 24,” I go “Oh, they’re my age!” Then I realized, wait, no, I’m 14 years older than that. I have forgotten. I still feel young. I still feel like I’m at that age.

I look at the other contestants, and I go, are they looking at me like, “Look at this older guy trying to get into the car.” I hope not, but it’s okay. As long as I earn their respect on the racetrack, I guess that’s all that matters.

Why did he leave Hollywood behind in favor of other jobs

You can always ask this question: “I wonder what it would be like if I didn’t go racing the first time and stayed in the entertainment business. Where would my career be?”

Maybe it was crazy and going to insane levels, or maybe it wasn’t. It’s hard to know when you’re thinking this way. For me, it always felt like I was running out of time. Even as a kid, I felt I needed to take advantage of the opportunity to do things.

I love the challenge of stepping out of my comfort zone and finding success – or not.

There are so many things in my life that I wanted to experience. And I wanted to know if I could achieve success in this business. And thankfully, because of what I got as a child actor, it gave me the chance to step back and try those other things. She gave me the freedom to do so. And I am forever grateful for that.

But I think it has more to do with the fact that I love a challenge. I love the challenge of stepping out of my comfort zone and finding success – or not. There were a lot of things no one ever said that were failures. But it excites me, diving into something you don’t know very well and learning all about it. I want to do as much of that as possible.

A lot of it also has to do with the fact that I just want to live a more fulfilling life. I’ve always been willing to change my course, if I could 100% push for it.

Why wouldn’t he mind being known as Malcolm?

People have asked me in the past if it ever bothers me that people only remember me as Malcolm or that they call me Malcolm or that I’m kind of colored or whatever. I always told the truth that I could go anywhere in the world and people would come up to me and go “Malcolm!” Or “I love your show” or “I love your work,” that’s a great feeling.

I know some people don’t want their past brought up, but I love it. It’s my past and I’m proud of it.

I would love if people looked at me and went, “Oh, he was also an actor?” I didn’t know that. I only know him as a driver.

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