Cadenza returns to our series “What Ever Happened To…?” chronicling the triumphs and misadventures of the stars of our youth. This week: Frankie Muniz of “Malcolm in the Middle.”
He might still only be 5 feet 5 inches and 120 pounds, but make no mistake; Frankie Muniz is all grown up. He ditched his acting career a few years ago to focus on his new passion—open-wheel auto racing. You know, like he’s a badass at 200 miles per hour. Oh, and when he’s not racing cars, he’s a drummer in a rock band. In sum, “Malcolm in the Middle” is orders of magnitude cooler than you. And to answer your first question: Yes, he still looks like Malcolm, even at 24, but now he has a mustache, in case you need nightmare-fodder.
But we should put his achievements in perspective before getting carried away. Frankie races in the Champ Car Atlantic Series, which is like the Triple-A league of formula racing. Last season he finished a respectable ninth place out of 20 drivers, which is more impressive considering he had wrist surgery that sidelined him for the final three races of the season.
Muniz’s dedication to the circuit was incredible. In a 2007 interview, he stated that he only spent about 40 days of the past year at home with his then-fiancé, a New Orleans hairdresser named Jamie Gandy to whom he got engaged when he was 19 and she was 25. But his racing days might be over, as the league announced last month that it is on hiatus, citing “the downturn in the global economy.” Muniz might have to take his No. 77 Team Stargate Worlds car elsewhere. Maybe he can make room for it in his garage next to the Jetta from “The Fast and the Furious.”
But a break from racing will give Muniz a chance to pursue another love: music—specifically, drumming with his recently formed band, You Hang Up. What does Frankie sound like behind the set? Well, he cites Zac Hanson as his teacher. You know, the Zac Hanson whom we can blame for “MMMBop.” In a 2004 interview he said, “My best friends are Hanson. When they come out for their full electric tour after their CD gets released, they’re going to have two drum kits up there, and I’m gonna jam with them.”
As for You Hang Up, well, their first single, “All of my Life,” is pretty cookie-cutter pop rock, complete with whiny, angsty vocals in the vein of There for Tomorrow or Quietdrive, but at least there’s a nearly constant crashing of cymbals!
Anyone interested in Frankie’s post-Malcolm acting career can look at his Wikipedia page. Some standouts include a starring role opposite Harvey Keitel in “My Sexiest Year,” for which he filmed a love scene, and “Extreme Movie,” a straight-to-DVD compilation of skits about porn and crushes on Abraham Lincoln written by Will Forte and Andy Samberg and co-starring Jamie Kennedy and Michael Cera.
One of his last acting jobs was voice work on a film for which he was the executive producer, “Choose Your Own Adventure: The Abominable Snowman,” with William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman, an interactive animated movie based on the book series, complete with 11 different endings!