At a recent New York autograph signing by the cast of the Disney Channel series "Wizards of Waverly Place," David DeLuise kept hearing the same thing from young fans: "I wish you were my dad."
"I tell them that we can write a script and then their dad will act just like me," says DeLuise. "Of course my real daughter is standing behind me just rolling her eyes."
What has caught the admiration of so many young fans is DeLuise's fun-loving and caring portrayal of Jerry Russo, the dad to wizards played by Selena Gomez, David Henrie and Jake T. Austin on the cable series. Maria Canals-Barrera plays mom Theresa.
The fans will see a different side of DeLuise's character in the Disney Channel's "Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie," which debuted Friday.
As the story goes on the series, Jerry gave up his magical abilities when he decided to marry a mortal. A miscast spell turns back the romance clock to the time before Jerry and Theresa met, which means Jerry has the old magic back.
While the children run around trying to reverse the spell to get back their parents, Jerry gets some use out of his magic. "It was really fun to have my own wand. It was really cool because it had a handle. I am sure it'll be in a toy store one day and I'll have to buy one," DeLuise says.
He uses the wand a lot because the movie has more than 300 special effects, more than the series. Another change between the TV show and movie: The series is shot entirely on a soundstage in front of a studio audience but the two-hour movie was produced over six weeks in Puerto Rico.
The switch from the TV style of shooting to a feature film approach was not that difficult for DeLuise, who has been in movies such as "Robin Hood: Men in Tights."
DeLuise, 37, began his career at age 8 when he played the son to his real father, Dom DeLuise, in the television movie "Happy."
Now it is his turn to be the veteran actor surrounded by youngsters.