Breaking News Bar
updated: 5/5/2014 7:21 PM

Glencoe native Fred Savage's wonder years behind, off camera

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Director/producer/actor and Glencoe native Fred Savage returns to Chicago to open the 10th annual Cine-Youth festival this week.

      Director/producer/actor and Glencoe native Fred Savage returns to Chicago to open the 10th annual Cine-Youth festival this week.

  • Director/producer/actor and Glencoe native Fred Savage said he always wanted to be on the other side of the camera.

      Director/producer/actor and Glencoe native Fred Savage said he always wanted to be on the other side of the camera.

  • Could director/producer/actor and Glencoe native Fred Savage get any more square? He married his elementary school pal.

      Could director/producer/actor and Glencoe native Fred Savage get any more square? He married his elementary school pal.

  • A young Fred Savage starred as Kevin Arnold opposite Danica McKellar as Winnie Cooper in "The Wonder Years" from 1988 to 1993.

      A young Fred Savage starred as Kevin Arnold opposite Danica McKellar as Winnie Cooper in "The Wonder Years" from 1988 to 1993.

  • Video: Fred Savage interview

  • Video: "Princess Bride" trailer

 

You probably remember Fred Savage as Peter Falk's cute grandson in the popular 1987 movie "The Princess Bride" or as super cute Kevin Arnold in TV's "The Wonder Years."

Everyone else does.

"I've been fortunate to be associated with works that have come to mean something to people," said Savage, a Glencoe native. "When people come up to me, they are always positive and encouraging and thoughtful."

Some people even know that Savage several years ago ducked behind the camera to direct episodes of a kazillion TV shows such as "Modern Family" and "Two Broke Girls" as well as "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (which he also produced).

"The thing that really feeds me is the collaboration," Savage said of his transition from actor to director. "I really enjoy getting on the set and coming up with ideas and executing them with a huge assortment of creative people.

"I get a lot of joy working with actors. Like when scenes are not coming together. Either nothing is quite working or it could be just a little bit better. Walking the actors through a scene so that they can make things come to life is the best thing for me."

Not everyone appreciates his directorial efforts. In 2008, Savage received the dubious honor of being nominated by the Razziers as the year's worst director for his comedy "Daddy Day Camp." But in 2006, 2007 and 2009, he received nods for outstanding directorial achievement in children's programs from the Directors Guild of America.

Either way, Savage promised that he chucks showbiz aside when he's home with his family.

"When I'm not at work, I'm all about the family," he said. "I love my kids. I love my wife. Being a father made me love my wife in a whole different way again. I appreciate her more than I ever have before."

With Mother's Day around the bend, here's one guy who doesn't need to buy a greeting card to convey a Hallmark sentiment.

Could Savage really be this deliriously domestic?

Hey, we're talking about a guy who married not his high school sweetheart, but his elementary school chum, Jennifer Stone, also of Glencoe. They have three children: a son, 7; a daughter, 5; and another son, 1.

We asked Savage, now 37, how fatherhood has changed him.

"Let's see ... I'm trying not to give you the cliched answers," he said. "Like I suddenly got my life priorities straight. Even though that's all true. It really got me to focus on what's important to me, family."

Savage was born in Highland Park. He spent his formative years in Glencoe, but by the time he would have gone to New Trier High School (as did his father and future wife), he'd already been working in Los Angeles, where he made his new home.

He landed his first TV appearance at age 9, then acted in movies such as "The Boy Who Could Fly" and "Dinosaurs!" More TV shows followed, including "The Twilight Zone" and "Crime Story" before he hit the career jackpot titled "The Princess Bride."

Savage graduated from an L.A. high school, then majored in English at Stanford University.

This week, he's headlining the 10th annual CineYouth Festival, presented by Cinema/Chicago and the Chicago International Film Festival, from Thursday through Saturday at Columbia College Chicago's Film Row Theater, 1104 S. Wabash Ave.

"This is my opportunity to interact with young filmmakers," he said. "I want to see if there's a way I can encourage them, give them help, steer or guide them with my experience at even a younger age than I started."

We asked Savage: What characteristics set Chicagoans apart from others?

"I think the defining characteristic of the Chicago people I come across in show business is there's an incredible work ethic. There's a real strong sense of humor. There's a real homeyness to them.

"Family is really important to them. Nobody's a jerk. They're all grounded and humble and hardworking. And really funny.

"That's how I would define the people I gravitate toward. Hopefully, that's how I'd like to define myself," he said.

Final question: What's the best thing about being Fred Savage?

"My kids," he said without taking a breath. "The kids are the best part of my day."

You are such a Midwesterner, we said to him.

"See? I told you."

-- Dann Gire

• Dann Gire and Jamie Sotonoff are always looking for people from the suburbs who are now working in showbiz. If you know of someone who would make a great feature, send them an email at dgire@dailyherald.com and jsotonoff@dailyherald.com.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.