Former child star Frankie Muniz rose to fame as the title character in the long running series “Malcolm in the Middle.” Now, the 27-year-old is rarely seen in the limelight. Muniz dished to FOX411 about his big career changes and growing up in the spotlight. He also had some words of wisdom for his former costar-turned-tabloid-sensation Amanda Bynes.
FOX411: Overall, your time in the spotlight has been [mostly] scandal-free. How do you think you were able to grow up normally when so many child stars go crazy?
Frankie Muniz: You know, I don’t fully know what it is exactly. I look at a lot of my friends in the business who have literally gone off the deep end. But I’ve never drank. I’ve never gone near drugs. I actually have ‘ZERO’ --for zero tolerance for alcohol and drugs-- tattooed on my arm... I never let Hollywood take control of me. What helped was leaving when [“Malcolm”] ended, living a normal life in Phoenix. I know the people at the grocery store and my neighbors.
FOX411: Speaking of child stars, Amanda Bynes has been making headlines lately. She’s reportedly unfit to stand trial for her DUI case. You two were in “Big Fat Liar” together. Are you still in touch?
Muniz: No, to be honest, not since we finished the movie, but we were very good friends. It’s crazy for me to see the things that she’s been doing and the stories I’ve been reading. She was so cool and had such an amazing personality. She had a good head on her shoulders with amazing parents. I remember them being on set. She made me feel bad about myself because she was such a great kid. I can’t imagine where that’s coming from, it’s definitely odd.
FOX411: What advice would you give her?
Muniz: The advice that worked for me was just to get out of the spotlight. When Britney Spears was going through this a few years ago—when she lost her mind—I was thinking someone needs to just take her from the paparazzi and let her just be. So she can just appreciate things. I really appreciate everything I had and have more than ever. It allows me to go, “Wow, that was really cool.” Seeing that would help people. They think it’s gonna last forever and end up drowning their sorrows in drugs and alcohol.
FOX411: There were reports of you and your fiancée [Elycia Turnbow] having a big fight back in 2011 and police were called to the scene. [A police report from the incident stated the Muniz held a loaded gun to his head.] It must have been difficult to hear all of the things being said about something so personal. Was the incident blown out of proportion? How did you deal with it?
Muniz: That was really kind of the only trouble that came out of the news about me. It was really funny because [Elycia and I] were sitting on Valentine’s Day of that year reading the story and going “How did our little argument turn into what they are making it?” It actually just became funny. I didn’t let it bother me. It wasn’t true. Neither of us came close to being arrested. The fact that the story ran the way it did was just insane to me. We were like, “What are they going to say next?” There wasn’t more to it, just a fake overblown story. It went away and people forget.
FOX411: How are you doing? We were sorry to hear about your mini stroke last year. Have you had to change your lifestyle?
Muniz: I’m good! I’m recovered and I’m definitely enjoying life. I did [make changes], just to help to prevent it from happening again. I’m a very high-stress person and am all about getting things done. It’s hard for me to just sit down. I’ve tried to force myself to relax, play golf and go for motorcycle rides. I try to eat better, but it’s hard because I love baby back ribs. I’m trying to take it easy.
FOX411: We have to ask…are you a “Breaking Bad” fan? [Muniz’s TV dad on “Malcolm in the Middle,” Hal (Bryan Cranston), stars in the show.]
Muniz: I am. That show is amazing. I can’t believe Sunday is the last episode. I’m actually really depressed that it is. I think it ended on a good note where it’s in the peak of its life and more people than ever are watching.
FOX411: Are you still in touch with Bryan?
Muniz: Bryan is such an incredible actor and an awesome guy. He’s really the only person I’ve stayed in contact with since [“Malcolm in the Middle.”] He’s definitely become very fatherly to me in real life, as well. He gives me advice and I listen. He’s a huge role model.
FOX411: So you don’t see your other “family members” from “Malcolm”?
Muniz: We had a reunion for the first time ever last August. We all got together, which was really nice. But Bryan is really the only one I’ve had dinners and phone calls with. I wish I was in better contact with everyone. You spend so much time together and when it ends, you’re really sad. Everyone says, “Oh, we’re gonna stay best friends,” but Justin [Berfield ] started producing and traveling the world and Jane [Kaczmarek] worked on another show. Pretty soon you look back and it’s seven years later. Maybe I should pick up the phone. But hey, they don’t call me either! [Laughs.]
FOX411: What made you get involved with Kingsfoil? [Muniz joined the band in 2012 as drummer.] Did you know the guys growing up?
Muniz: I didn’t actually. I’ve been playing drums since I was 12 or 13. I always wanted to be in a band and tour—it looked like a lot of fun. But I didn’t know how to do it and didn’t have friends that played instruments. Once I moved to Arizona, I met a group of guys and did a band for a year and a half with them. We shared the same manager as Kingsfoil. Their drummer left, so I auditioned. I was a huge fan so was excited to get the call. A year and a half later, we’ve been touring nonstop and have played over 200 shows. I love it.
FOX411: You’ve also had another career aside from acting and music—race car driving. A lot of fans were surprised when you began in 2008. What prompted that?
Muniz: I didn’t grow up doing it like pretty much all of the professional drivers. I just always enjoyed it. I actually did the Grand Prix of Long Beach in 2003, the celebrity race. After that, I got offered a free test and did well there and got a contract. I ended up racing professional for four years until I got hurt.
FOX411: Do you think you’ll go back to acting?
Muniz: I’m not opposed to it. I would love to be on another show, but my focus right now is the band. You have to dedicate yourself to one or the other. I do miss acting at times, but I love Kingsfoil and being on the road.