Now that wayward teen Mary (Jessica Biel) has been shipped off to her grandparents, what are the writers of the WB’s ”7th Heaven” (Mon., 8 p.m.)to do? In a delicious twist only an Aaron Spelling show could get away with, patriarch Eric Camden (Stephen Collins) has invited Mary’s rebellious boyfriend Robbie — yes, the same guy he didn’t want near his daughter — to shack up with the family. Hey, what’s a wholesome TV family without a resident troubled soul?
Nineteen-year-old LaVorgna — who met real life girlfriend Biel two years ago while they were filming ”I’ll Be Home For Christmas” — proved his mettle last season when he joined the cast of the WB’s highest rated show for a handful of episodes. To his surprise, the producers liked his sullen kid without a cause so much they decided to bring his character back for keeps.
EW.com caught up with LaVorgna to talk about his Sunday school skipping character and how he dropped out of Boston College to go to “Heaven.”
How weird is it that the Camdens are inviting you into their home after not wanting you to date their daughter?
It’s pretty strange, but that’s where the cool plot comes from. The show’s done really well, and it’s been written just with the family members they have. And now with me on the show, there’s so much more to play off of. You’ve got this complete stranger living in the house, so everything is brand new. Now I interact with everyone. Last year on the show, I just had scenes with Jessie [Biel].
How did you celebrate when you found out that you were going to be a regular?
I was at Boston College starting my sophomore year. I was just thinking about school and the whole TV thing kind of came out of nowhere. It was more of a shock than anything. I was excited, but it definitely turned my life around. I had a whole plan for this year. I was going to be going to school in the same town as my girlfriend [Biel], and everything was going to be working out fine. I was very happy, but it was kind of spoiled in the sense that I had to leave school. I would have loved to have done both at the same time.
Will Robbie have a new love interest on the show?
I don’t think so. He’s just dealing with the family at this point. Brenda [Hampton, the creator and executive producer] mentioned something to me about a Valentine’s Day episode, and that’s all I know. We don’t get the scripts until a couple of days before we shoot it, so it’s kind of a surprise. You never really know what kind of twists you’re going to get thrown.
Is there pressure on you since Jessica Biel’s popular character is now gone and you’re the new focus?
I never really thought of it like that. I just figure that ”7th Heaven” has its fans — people are going to tune in regardless. Jessie was a big part of the show, but the thing about it is she’s really not off the series. She’s a running plot in every show and she comes back every three or four episodes. So I don’t even look at it as her being off the show. I look at it as her part being trimmed down a little bit.
You’re the bad boy on an otherwise wholesome series. Is that cool?
Yeah. Some of the stuff I did last year was pretty risque. People [who sent in letters] were like, ”Why’d you do that?” And of course you’re like, ”It’s a TV show.” For as bad as I am, it’s like I am in real life. Robbie never crosses the line. He’s a sweet guy deep down, and in upcoming episodes you see his good side.
Can you give us an example?
Like scenes where I play with the twins, the babies. And I help out and do laundry and set the table and cook and I make breakfast for people. I just really help out because I know these people are going out of their way and being unbelievably kind to me by letting me live in their household. I really acknowledge that and I take on a big responsibility in the house.
How much of a stretch is it for you to play the bad boy?
You know, I got in trouble when I was younger. I went to an all boys boarding school with a lot of bad kids. I grew up in a city outside of New Haven, Connecticut, and we thought that we were little Gs and stuff, sagging our pants. We weren’t into the whole school thing back then and I got shipped off to boarding school because I would do stupid things. But, you know, ever since I went to school, I got my life together and played three varsity sports in high school and acted. And now I’m doing this.
What do you miss most about college life?
Just being around lots of my friends. In college, there are always people around. Going out with 25 of your friends to a bar. I don’t miss any of the school work, really, except for a few classes that were cool like philosophy and some of the theology stuff that I liked.
No exams, though — that’s a good deal.
Yeah, but I got a 2.4 last year, so I never really strained myself too hard. When it did come time to study, I was like ”Uhhh, I’ve got to study.” I’m pretty lazy.
You’ve had experience in movies [like 1998’s ”Outside Providence”], but what’s the best part of being on a TV show?
You can be lazy. It’s not hard work. It’s hard work, but it’s fun hard work. Even if I have a 6:30 call time, I don’t mind getting up because I love what I do. I’m from a blue collar town, and I know what it’s like to wake up every morning and hate what you do. My dad’s told me for years, ”You never want to wake up in the morning and hate what you do.” He’s like, ”If you can find something that you love to do every morning, that’s great.” And making money is pretty great, too.