As Brady Bunch devotees will recall, Bobby Brady grew up to become a race-car driver. But Mike Lookinland, the actor who played the youngest Brady boy, went racing down a different career path. After toying with the ideas of being a chemical engineer or an architect, Lookinland returned to the film industry, only this time behind the camera. He's currently the first assistant cameraman on the hit WB show Everwood.
"Where I am now is the pinnacle of the path I started on about 15 years ago," says Lookinland. "When I got back into the film business after college, I started out as a production assistant. At first I was working my way up toward joining the DGA [Directors Guild of America], but one day it occurred to me that assistant directing is mostly political and organizational, whereas assistant camera is mostly technical. I realized that in the long term, technical appealed to me over political. So I have been doing camera ever since."
Surprisingly, the 43-year-old father of two is not the only former child star working behind the scenes at the Frog network. Head of the Class' Brian Robbins is an executive producer on Smallville and One Tree Hill, while The Hardy Boys' Shaun Cassidy is an executive producer of The Mountain. Lookinland isn't in touch with Robbins or Cassidy, but he's not surprised they've stayed in television. "I have had the occasion to meet child actors from the '60s and '70s at various functions, and everyone's gone on to various different lives — they're real-estate agents or surfers. But if [television] is really in your blood, you wander back in that direction."
So do Everwood's young stars ever bother him for career advice? "They wouldn't ask me for advice, believe me," Lookinland laughs. "But Emily Van Camp [who plays Amy] loves to learn about the ins and outs of the camera department. And we do talk a lot about my past and my impression of things and how it relates to what we're doing now. The Brady Bunch, in its heyday, was really the genesis of when TV started to become the force that it is today."