Even when the cast of The Middle is away from the set, they can't stop acting like a family. Patricia Heaton (Frankie Heck) gabs with her TV daughter, Eden Sher (Sue), about shopping. Neil Flynn (Mike) bonds with TV sons Charlie McDermott (Axl) and Atticus Shaffer (Brick) over who's the best shot during their on-set basketball games. We sat the close-knit crew down to swap stories about everything from the first time they met to their favorite Mexican veggie.
TV Guide Magazine: Did you guys immediately click?
Atticus: It wasn't instantaneous. The show's creators set up a day [early on] when we all just sat and got to know each other.
Patricia: We did that? Was I there? I don't remember!
Charlie: We met in the production office.
Neil: It's strange. You're barely introduced to someone, then you're on camera and have to pretend to be in love and that you've known them all your life. Now we spend so much time together, we have developed relationships.
Patricia: Like the last shot we did yesterday. We were in the car together, and I forgot that everyone could hear us. We were talking about people who pronounce the "l" in "almond," "palm," "calm"... And just laughing our heads off. We concluded that you shouldn't pronounce it, much to Neil's chagrin, since he's been pronouncing it all his life. That's probably why he's not married.
Neil: I didn't realize how much I was turning off prospective wives. Who knew?
TV Guide Magazine: No family can live in harmony all the time. What bugs you about each other?
Patricia: Well, Neil pronounces the "l" in "almond"....
Neil: I used to not pronounce the "l" in "wolf." I was 25 when I learned about that. "The boy who cried woof."
Patricia: My woof likes alllmonds!
>Charlie: Eden eats jicama. I don't like that.
Neil: Is that the white stuff?
Charlie: It's like compressed oxygen.
Eden: It is not! It's the sweetest vegetable.
Patricia: Crunchy and juicy!
Charlie: This debate's been going on a long time.
>Eden: Producers and writers have gotten involved.
TV Guide Magazine: Do the conversations ever go beyond vegetables?
Patricia: Every once in a while, we look up from our Angry Birds and ask how Egypt is doing. Then we go back to our Angry Birds. And I have my PlayStation. I have to go to Charlie for advice since I'm a newbie.
Eden: They talk about it so intensely you'd never know they were talking about a video game. They talk about killing people.... "Is he still dead? Oh, no, you have to go in that room with the FBI agent who hates you!"
Charlie: It's real life.
TV Guide Magazine: What have you learned from working together?
Atticus: You really learn something new every week.
Patricia: I learned Atticus has a great Scottish accent.
Atticus: I don't know how I picked it up. Maybe because I saw Braveheart and loved it so much.
Neil: My sister just told me we're related to William Wallace.
Patricia: Who is Irish?
Neil: Scottish. Watch the movie.
Patricia: But you're Irish!
Eden: I learned one of Patty's phrases. When she gets a direction she'll say, "Got it!" Not just once [but] over and over: "Gotitgotitgotitgotitgotit!" So I've started doing that.
Patricia: I've learned that Neil does a great Gary Busey impression. I try to get him to do it every chance I get.
Charlie: Have you seen that sports-drink video Gary Busey did?
Neil: Someone paid him to endorse
Charlie: It's funny. He's a crazy lawyer.
Patricia: Gary Busey plays a lawyer? That's genius, actually. It's good to know that even if you go crazy, you can still have a job in this industry. I should have done that earlier.
TV Guide Magazine: Have you started acting more like your characters?
Patricia: It's interesting that they wrote this show without ever having met us. Atticus did the original pilot. He's the only survivor of that one. I think he actually killed off all the other actors. He looks sweet and innocent but....
Charlie: Just go watch The Unborn.
Eden: I don't know if I've learned anything from Sue... Maybe [that] if you wear a giant sweatshirt for multiple weeks, someone might think you're pregnant.
Charlie: That's the rumor I found online.
Eden: Someone asked, "Why is she wearing that all the time? She must be pregnant."
Neil: Eden isn't a lot like Sue but if you lob a football toward her, her inner Sue will come out.
Patricia: Or a Frisbee.
Eden: Or anything.
Neil: She will act as if you've thrown a live cat at her. It happened just yesterday. With a basketball.
Eden: They told me I couldn't eat lunch until I made
Patricia: Needless to say, she hasn't eaten since yesterday.
TV Guide Magazine: The show is doing well, but are there changes you'd make if you were in charge?
Neil: I think an alien should crash into our house, and we keep it. Otherwise, nothing's missing at the moment.
Eden: I would add more jicama.