After finding fame as a child star, Frankie Muniz decided to walk away from Hollywood.
The actor is best known for playing Malcolm in the hit sitcom "Malcolm in the Middle," which aired from 2000 until 2006. Starring Bryan Cranston and Jane Kaczmarek, the show told the tale of a dysfunctional family and their comical adventures. The series won seven Emmys and led to numerous movie roles for the now-36-year-old.
However, Muniz told Fox News Digital that stepping out of the spotlight as he grew older saved him from facing the dreaded child star curse that has plagued several others in the film and TV industry.
"When I was on ‘Malcolm,’ I was just so excited to be working on a show," he explained. "But also in that same sense, when the show ended, I kind of left the business for a little bit. I started doing other things. I was racing cars. I joined a band. I was touring all over. I opened some businesses and I got to experience so many amazing things in my life, which now at this point has made me able to reflect and look back and be so appreciative of the experience."
"Now, I have thought about it," he continued. "Because… so many people go down a bad path, whether it’s drugs, alcohol – whatever it may be. And I think for a lot of people, it’s probably difficult to go from having such success at a young age where you always have people going like, ‘Oh, I love you,’ and everyone wanting you here and there. And then that starts to fade. And I think a lot of people try to replace the missing feeling of [being] wanted with something else. And that really is a negative for a lot of people. Whereas for me, I’ve always been super focused on what I was currently doing because I wanted to be the best at whatever I was doing. And that’s how I am."
In 2006, Muniz took a hiatus from acting to pursue professional race car driving. He competed in the Formula BMW USA Championship that year and then raced in the ChampCar Atlantic Championship from 2007 to 2009. In 2009, Muniz was fourth in the championship standings. He had two races to go before a season-ending injury resulted in multiple surgeries. Today, racing remains a part of Muniz’s life.
Since then, Muniz has taken numerous acting roles. But these days, he’s enjoying a blast from the past. VH1 has revived its early 2000s reality series "The Surreal Life." The show, which originally aired from 2003 to 2006, has a new star-studded lineup that includes Muniz, as well as August Alsina, CJ Perry, Dennis Rodman, Kim Coles, Stormy Daniels and Manny MUA.
"I watched the show originally when it aired in the early 2000s," said Muniz. "And it was a wild show. It definitely puts people, celebrities out of their comfort zone, in situations they normally wouldn’t be in. But in that same sense, I thought it would be a really fun experience for me to learn about myself. I didn’t know what to expect. It was very nerve-wracking entering that house because you don’t know who the other roommates are going to be. You have no idea what they’re going to have you be doing on the show and what’s it going to be like to have cameras literally film you 24/7."
"I can say that it was both one of the greatest experiences of my life and also one of the craziest experiences of my life," he insisted. "It was definitely an interesting, fun learning experience."
And Muniz said he quickly bonded with some of his cast mates.
"I’ve never drank," he said. "That’s something that you see in the house. Me, Manny MUA and Kim Coles, we immediately created this bond in this… house because none of us drank. So we’re ‘The Sober Three.’ And we had an amazing connection and became really, really close because of it."
Muniz is also happy to be back at home for a special reason. His wife Paige Price, who previously spoke out about her struggles to get pregnant, welcomed their first child in 2021, a son named Mauz.
But life hasn’t always been blissful for the star. In 2017, it was revealed that Muniz was faced with memory loss. He said his account was "blown out of proportion" by several outlets.
"It’s an interesting story," Muniz explained. "I’ve had I think nine concussions in my life [due to sports], which is a fair amount. I think a lot of the memory talk or my lack of memory talk was… maybe blown out of proportion, more than it truly is. I think when I reflect now why there are so many things that maybe I forget, or I forget things I did when I was a kid [because] I was doing so much. I was working maybe 13 hours a day, and I was flying all over the world. You know, I was always really busy that it’s hard to absorb everything. It’s hard to take everything in."
"I started thinking about it and I think, ‘Do you remember every day of high school? No,’" he shared. "You remember certain moments, which I do, of my career in my past… I might not have the best memory, but I think I have more memory than I think is being portrayed in some of the media for sure."
With reboots all the rage in Hollywood, Muniz said he would "love" to revisit "Malcolm in the Middle" today with the original cast.
"When I was filming the show, I obviously was a kid," he said. "We did seven seasons, 151 episodes. I didn’t really watch the show when it was on, but I’ve now since watched the show with my wife. We [watched] all 151 episodes… I realized, ‘Wow, that’s what we were making.’… I can separate myself from being on it and watching it as a fan. I would love to know what the family’s up to."
"I know Bryan Cranston is really into the idea and he’s kind of heading writing the script and getting everything rolling. So, there might be something. I would be down 100 percent."
"But I don’t know - we’ll see what happens," he teased.