10 'Cheaper By The Dozen' Secrets We Learned From Henry Baker
As a kid with 11 brothers and sisters, Henry Baker had a hard time creating his own identity outside of the Baker dozen. Luckily, actor Kevin Schmidt has had no problem separating himself from his childhood roles in Cheaper by the Dozen and Cheaper by the Dozen 2.
Since the franchise ended over a decade ago, Schmidt has become a soap opera star, directed music videos for brother Kendall Schmidt's band, and started the Hapbee Company, which specializes in organic products. And yes, he had a puberty transformation à la Neville Longbottom (and he's aware that the internet is into it).
Schmidt spoke with MTV News to share some behind-the-scenes stories and discuss his Cheaper by the Dozen side project.
Henry almost played the trumpet instead of the clarinet.
Before filming began, Schmidt was given the choice by the prop department to play either the trumpet or the clarinet. Having had experience with the clarinet in his school's music class, he opted for that. However, the second film required more strenuous training, so Schmidt spent a month in a hotel in Toronto taking clarinet lessons.
The role of Hank was cast at the last minute.
Poor Ashton Kutcher's character had his underwear soaked in meat and was attacked by dogs, but the kids didn't know the actor was playing Hank until the day of shooting. Schmidt was thrilled to see Kutcher, since they had just worked on The Butterfly Effect together.
While the Bakers played apple schmear, football and baseball were the pastimes on set.
The family home at the beginning of the first movie was filmed at an actual house in Petaluma, California. (Remember the scene with Beans the frog jumping into a giant plate of eggs?) Between takes, the cast played football and baseball. Schmidt recalled tossing baseballs around with Kutcher, movie bro Tom Welling, and director Shawn Levy.
There were actually two dogs playing the Baker family pet.
Gangster and Blitz both played Gunner in the first film, but when the second one came around, Gangster retired. Blitz and another dog stepped in to play the role in the sequel. Schmidt also shared that both he and Martin brought their dogs to set, and, miraculously, all the canines got along.
Cheaper by the Dozen 2 was basically 'summer camp' for all the kids.
Though the kids were in Toronto to work, that didn't stop them from literally going fishing in between takes, as well as cruising on Jet Skis for fun. "That second movie was summer camp, period," Schmidt admitted. "It just happened that we were also telling a story that we were really proud of, as well."
The diving board scene was partly CGI.
In the sequel's big family competition, Sarina Murtaugh (Carmen Electra) executes a perfect flip with hardly any splash. For comedic effect, Henry immediately does a cannonball, sending water everywhere. "When I saw the finished cut," Schmidt recalled, "they CGIed — like computer graphics added in — this giant extra splash."
Steve Martin would play his banjo between takes, which turned into mini concerts for the kids.
While the crew would "turn around the universe" — a.k.a. switch the cameras and lights to the other side of the frame — the Baker patriarch would go to his trailer and play the banjo on the steps. Though it was just for his own amusement, the kids eventually gathered around him to listen. Schmidt said that Martin loved to see how much the kids were enthralled by the banjo.
Bonnie Hunt wrote an original draft of the first film, but it was ultimately scrapped.
Cheaper by the Dozen is actually a remake of the 1950 movie of the same name, based on the real-life story of the Gilbreth family. Hunt's script was a dramedy and revolved around the large family coping with the news that the patriarch had cancer. This darker plot lined up with the tone of the 1950 film, but was eventually turned down because 20th Century Fox wanted a "wacky, wacky family comedy," as Schmidt phrased it.
Because Hunt didn't want to write that type of story, she moved away from the project. But after Fox got Martin onboard, Hunt returned to play his wife.
There's actually a third Cheaper by the Dozen script that exists in the world.
Schmidt wrote the script several years ago and almost got it made — but Fox ultimately wanted Martin attached to the project.
Schmidt's version of Cheaper by the Dozen 3 channels Hunt's original script and the 1950 movie. While the Baker kids take a family road trip to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show — a direct reference to a scene in the first film — Henry struggles after learning his dad has cancer.
This unofficial third plot works to create identities for all of the characters. Even Eliot Murtaugh (Taylor Lautner) from the sequel comes back and reunites with his former crush, Sarah (Alyson Stoner).
All the actors who played the kids are spread out, but they're still connected on Facebook.
Schmidt, who reunited with Stoner earlier this year, said he sees his movie sister often and that they've collaborated on projects. He also sees Hilary Duff, who played Lorraine Baker, pretty regularly. (His and Duff's moms actually have a talent agency together.) The other nine kids from the film live in different parts of the country, so he's not able to hang out with them as often as he'd like. At least there's Facebook!