Home Improvement's problem child is anything but.
BY KAREN CONDOR
from TV Guide, May 1998.
Q: Belated happy birthday wishes. How did you celebrate?
A: I went to work. [Laughs] But I had my celebration two days later. I went out and got a bass guitar with a friend. Then my band came over and we hung out and played awhile, then went to CityWalk [at Universal City, California].
Q: Tell me about your band.
A: It's a start-up band right now. It's a mixture between alternative and hard rock. Mainly just rock 'n' roll. We've settled down to what everybody's going to be playing and who's actually in the band just recently.
Q: Is it weird for you that the world can still see you as a
7-year-old, thanks to Home Improvement reruns?
A: Yeah, it's kind of strange, especially when people recognize me on the street. They go, "Damn! You've grown so much!" They think I'm still a 7- or 8-year-old who's still under 5 feet and has a high voice.
Q: How close are you and Zachery [Ty Bryan, who plays Brad] and
Jonathan [Taylor Thomas, who plays Randy] in age?
A: Under three years apart. They will be turning 17 later in the year, and I just turned 14. But we get along really well, especially Zach and I. They both have their licenses, so a lot of times we'll drive off-lot and go have fun.
Q: How do you feel about your TV family ending after next season?
A: It was a unanimous feeling that after next year, that's enough. They want to go out while we're still somewhat on top and still fresh. But it has been a lot of fun over the years. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
Q: What plans do you have when the series ends?
A: My long-term goal is to become a director and go to NYU. I'll be a junior, and junior and senior year are very important years for getting into college. I might just put my whole career on hold and just focus on school.
Q: Your director influences?
A: A very good director that I look up to [is] Billy Bob Thornton. And, I'm sure everyone says this, Spielberg, although I wouldn't want to do the major blockbusters. But he does a blockbuster and then turns around and does an Amistad or a Schindler's List.
Q: I heard your first job was at six months old. What's the earliest
job you remember?
A: An Enterprise rental commercial. I think I was like 5 or 6. I remember going on a lot of auditions, too. My mom used to be a script supervisor. My dad was an actor and a model. But it's not like they're forcing me into it. Anytime I want to get out of it, I can. But I don't want to; I love it.
Q: How do the Taylors compare to your real family?
A: We really don't mirror [them] at all. On the show I have two brothers; but I only have one sister. My dad does love to fix things. But when he fixes something, it actually works! It doesn't blow up or go through a roof or a wall.
Q: Speaking of Tim's mechanical blunders, were you ever nervous about
things blowing up on the set?
A: The only time we've ever been in danger, we were filming the second vacation episode. And Pat [Richardson] and Tim [Allen] were driving a boat and it was the first time she had ever driven a boat. There was a camera boat ahead of them, and they got caught in the wake. They were really close to flipping over into the other boat. But they got it on tape and it's rather funny to watch. That tape went out to all the talk shows.
On Your 'Mark' ...
Born: April 8, 1984, in San Francisco
Hobbies: Piloting his family's home-built experimental airplane, mountain biking, fencing, paintball, chess, sailing
Volunteerism: Kids "R" Us coat drive; Star Kids Challenge for the Make-A-Wish Foundation; D.A.R.E.
Special Claim To Fame: The only "youngster" to appear on Politically Incorrect ("People were rather reluctant because of my age.")
Latest Project: Little Bigfoot: The Journey Home on video
See Him On: Home Improvement, Tuesdaysat 9 p.m. on ABC
Home Improvement may be long in the tooth, but it can still hit a nerve. Youngest son Mark Taylor has gone Gothic this season--and his wearing black has some fans seeing red.
"We've actually gotten some hate mail, especially from midwestern younger girls who don't realize it's just a character," relates actor Taran Noah Smith. "They think I'm actually like that. Or they think that I should have turned it down and quit the show because of it."
They'll really flip about this week's episode. As Smith explains: "[Mark] starts out with what is normal to him, the Gothic look. Then he comes back from the mall all preppy--he's going off to a date. The next morning, I come downstairs, and I'm back even more into the Gothic clothes, and my head is shaved. [My parents Tim and Jill are] like, 'What's going on?' It's basically the story that she dumped me."
Yes, Smith really did the close shave. "I'm so far liking it! It's so easy. Before I had to put gel in it, otherwise I looked like Kramer on Seinfeld," he cracks. "Now I just get out of the shower and I don't do anything to it."
Smith's also happy about the latest Mark, despite the flak. "I'm really playing a character, which is nice, because before that I was not really a character. I was kind of the generic boy. But I'm definitely not like that," he stresses. "It hasn't changed me at all. I'm the same Taran--now I just have a shaved head."