Parents who grew up watching Sean Astin in The Goonies, Where the Day Takes You and Rudy, can now tune in to his latest endeavor with their children. The actor is the voice of special agent-in-training, Oso, in the Disney Channel's new show Special Agent Oso, which premieres in April 4th. Oso, a panda bear, works for U.N.I.Q.U.E. (United Network for Investigating Quite Usual Events), an international organization of stuffed animals that helps kids accomplish simple tasks like making their bed or mailing a letter. I recently had the chance to chat with Astin, 38, who is also a director and father of three — Alexandra, 12, Elizabeth, 6, and Isabella, 3.
lilsugar: You said that when you saw the animation of the character, Oso, you felt it reflected you — how so?
Sean Astin: Well, just the look of him. I mean I see myself. I'm not a lean, mean marathon runner. I run and occasionally, I slim down, but he's cute, he's cuddly, you know? He's me — ask anyone who's ever met me.
To see what the proud papa had to say about fatherhood and his career,
lilsugar: As the father of three young daughters, are they thrilled that you are going to have a show on the Disney Channel?
Sean Astin: At first they were very matter-of-fact about understanding the concept of the show and they knew it'd come on at some point in the indeterminable future and that dad would be the voice of the character. And, then they saw a commercial for it at their friend's house and they went ballistic. They can't get enough of it. It kind of brought them to the fact that their dad's an actor a little more than before and now they want to start watching other movies that I've been in. That's a direct effect of them enjoying Oso.
Is working on Secret Agent Oso also different because your kids can watch it as opposed to some of your other films?
Sean Astin: Absolutely, there's been a number of movies I have done that were R-rated. I played a drug addict and I've played a homicidal killer and it's just not what we're going to let our children watch. But over the years, I've always gotten approached by people asking why I wasn't making more movies for kids. When this came along, I was really excited. More than anything else, except maybe Meerkat Manor (Astin is the narrator) — this is the most direct, specific way that I can communicate as an actor to kids.
lilsugar: Your big break was in The Goonies, which is a beloved film for kids and people of all ages. Now that you are an adult actor, director and dad, how do you think children's entertainment has changed since then?
Sean Astin: Well I think in a lot of ways it's more elicit. You know something like Goonies there's fun and there's adventure, but it's kind of — I don't know, it's not a laser beam of entertainment. We didn't figure out how the funny bone would get winged in between here and there as is naturally the case. There are so many shows that the people making them now grew up on. All the television shows now are beneficiaries, for better or worse, and a culmination of all those things. I am sort of a purist and like some of the old school things like Peter Pan and classic Disney animation, but the animation you can do now is just absolutely incredible. There used to be a core group of 15 or so actors that did almost all of the voice work that was out there and now you've got world class movie stars who regularly want to participate in the next generation's movies and shows. Violence is a little worse, comedy is a little more intense in some of them, but basically there's good shows, good stories, good characters and talent — well acted.
lilsugar: Fill in the blank. You know you're a father when ____?
Sean Astin: You cry at commercials with families saying goodbye to their kids when they go to college.
lilsugar: Fill in the blank. Why didn't anybody tell me _____ about fatherhood?
Sean Astin: Why didn't anybody tell me how much more sleep I would get as a father and how upset my wife would be about it.