On TV, Lucas Cruikshank plays YouTube phenomenon Fred Figglehorn, the wacky, snide kid from a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic mom, a father in prison and a rabid cat named Dolly. But in real life, Cruickshank, 17, is a Nebraska-raised high school junior on his way to realizing is dream of becoming an actor.
On Saturday, Nickelodeon debuts his move, Fred, and the cable network is also creating a TV comedy series for Cruikshank. So, before his star explodes, here are five things to know about the teen who is not nearly as diabolical as his cyberspace alter ego.
1. He’s Inspired by His Family
Cruikshank, who is the fourth of eight kids, says his main influences for the Fred Figglehorn character are his little brothers. “They were crazy little kids, and I exaggerated what they did and made Fred like them,” he tells PEOPLE. “I get a lot of ideas living in a huge family.”
2. His Parents Watch What He Spends
“I don’t have a set allowance. If I want something I have to ask my parents [David and Molly] first, and they have to approve it,” he says of his mom, an obstetrics nurse, and dad, an executive engineer. “My biggest splurge was a MacBook Pro.”
3. He Drives Second-Hand Wheels
“I have a car, my sister’s hand-me-down Chrysler Seabreeze, but I can only drive it in Nebraska,” confesses Cruikshank. “My parents won’t let me drive in California until I get better at it.”
4. He’s a Big Fan with Big Aspirations
Asked what’s hanging on his bedroom wall, the teen says there are posters of Megan Fox and of bands like Lincoln Park, 3OH!3 and Cobra Starship. “I like all types of music: pop, rock and country,” he says. As for his favorite stars: “One day I hope to meet Ellen Paige – she’s an awesome actress,” he says. “And [writer-director] Judd Apatow, because he’s doing what I’d like to do in the future.”
5. He Does Chores
“I mow our two-acre lawn [on a rider mower], and we have a lot of animals to feed,” Cruickshank tells PEOPLE. “It’s like a zoo around here: four dogs, two cats and two cockatiels. The pet people we bought the birds from said they’d learn words but they haven’t caught on. They [just] screech a lot.”