‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ Star Opens Up About The Meme Campaign That “Ruined My Acting Career”

Charlie Wright was the target of the #NotMyRodrick movement that ended his acting aspirations
‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ Star Opens Up About The Meme Campaign That “Ruined My Acting Career”

If there’s one ominous warning to be gleaned from the Diary of a Wimpy Kid film series, it’s that memes can kill dreams.

In 2017, a controversial figure ascended to an important position, replacing a beloved predecessor and enraging his supporters. Oh, and Donald Trump moved into the White House that year, too. But, for many fans of the children’s cartoon novel series and subsequent live-action, feature film franchise Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the U.S. presidency was a secondary concern to the selection of a new actor to play the part of Rodrick, the domineering metalhead of an oldest brother to the protagonist Greg Heffley, in the third film of the series, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. On Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Reddit, the #NotMyRodrick movement voiced their displeasure with actor Charlie Wright’s replacement of Devon Bostick in the Rodrick role that Bostick performed in the previous movies through targeted, mean-spirited memes. 

Ever since the release of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, Wright has largely avoided acting roles, only appearing in one movie and one TV show in the last seven years. On Sunday, Wright explained how the #NotMyRodrick campaign derailed his aspirations, saying, "It kind of ruined my acting career, but I'm still alive." If Wright ever decides to recommit himself to acting, let me give him some vital advice – stay away from Star Wars.

In a video Wright posted on both his YouTube and TikTok channels, the actor-turned-target explained that the problems didn’t start until after he had already finished filming Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. “What most people don’t know is that casting for the movie wasn’t announced until after we finished filming the movie, which is very unusual,” he said, “I don’t know if they wanted to keep something secret. I don’t know. Let’s just say that, when the world found out I was playing Rodrick, they weren’t very happy.”

For months leading up to the film’s release in May, 2017 (and even for a while after that), the very online and very vocal fandom of Diary of a Wimpy Kid flooded the comment section of every social media post about the movie with hashtags of #NotMyRodrick and derogatory jokes about Wright’s role in the film. On Twitter, fans co-opted the #NotMyPresident slogan used by anti-Trump users at the time to create vaguely political memes about their outrage over Wright’s casting – there was even a subreddit devoted to such memes.

"For the better half of 2017 and honestly until like 2018, I was kind of a worldwide meme, not to brag or anything," Wright joked. “I’ll be honest, some of the memes were funny. Some of them were good,” he admitted, “Some of them, eh, could have done better. … They called me Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka, which, now, knowing what Johnny Depp did, hurts more. At the time, I didn’t really care. I liked that movie.”

However, many of the memes and messages directed at Wright extended past the playful banter on the surface of a Twitter hate mob. Many Diary of a Wimpy fans targeted Wright’s race as a half-Japanese American for vitriol. Some went even further. “The random death threats were a little disturbing, I’ll be honest,” Wright reflected.

“Do I have any hatred or anger towards people who participated in the #NotMyRodrick thing? No. I don’t. It’s fine, life goes on,” Wright clarified, though he admitted, “I did go through a depressive episode for almost three years afterwards,” a struggle that he says destroyed his interest in acting. Today, however, Wright is happy with his pivot away from the profession, saying, “I don’t really like the life of an actor, never knowing when your next job is or auditioning for hundreds of things and just never hearing back, and feeling like you can’t leave because you feel like you’ll miss something.”

So maybe the dream that the memes destroyed didn’t mean anything to Wright, but being mean to a teen through a screen is still obscene.


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