Wizards of Waverly Place fans will get to reconnect with the Russo family tonight when the Disney Channel airs The Wizards Return: Alex vs Alex (at 8 p.m. ET/PT). And Jake T. Austin, who played Max Russo for five years, hopes the reunion movie will be just what everyone wanted.
“We get to showcase everything we’ve been working so hard for in the last couple months. We get to bring closure to the fans,” says Austin, 18. Last year’s Wizards series finale attracted 11.3 million total viewers, making it the number one cable kids’ telecast of all time.
Tonight’s one-hour special will follow Selena Gomez’s Alex and the rest of the Russo family as they visit long-lost relatives in Tuscany. A spell goes wrong and splits Alex in two, resulting in an Evil Alex who wants to take over the world — and a Good Alex who must stop Evil Alex at any cost.
“The Russos are put in a position where they’re forced to save Alex without using magic. You get to see a different side of the family [with the relatives]. And also you get to step outside of New York for a change,” says Austin, who had no trouble getting back into the mindset of goofy little brother Max. “Falling into those shoes came so naturally to me. Playing the character for five years really helped me see things from his perspective.”
And for Austin, getting the gang back together was it’s own special fun: “It was great to fall into a rhythm that we’re so familiar with, and getting the opportunity to work with everybody in the cast again was something I was eager to do.”
The young actor has started work on the new Jennifer-Lopez produced show The Fosters on ABC Family, in which he’s playing Jesus, one of a number of foster kids living with a same-sex couple.
“Moving from a sitcom to a drama is a big step. It forces you to take more into account and hold more responsibility. But that’s something I’m prepared to do,” he says. “The great thing about The Fosters is that it incorporates both comedy and drama.”
Austin also has his role as Huck in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn coming up, as well as his reprisal of his voice-over role of Fernando in Rio 2.
But tonight’s all about Max and the Russos and the show that we watched Austin grow up on.
“The timeline for the character of Max and myself has really been parallel in a lot of senses,” says Austin. “Max has found himself growing and evolving– getting older and maturing, and accepting handling more responsibility. And I find myself having to handle all those things as well.”