In the upcoming family film Shorts, a group of kids find a magical stone that enables them to wish for anything they want. It’s a quandary Jon Cryer would likely never want to find himself in.

“If I could wish for anything, what would it be?” ponders the actor when posed the hypothetical proposition. “You’re the first guy who has literally asked me that question and I don’t have a good answer.”

Fair enough. The star of TV’s Two and a Half Men would rather discuss working with enigmatic filmmaker Robert Rodriguez anyhow.

Shorts (which hits theatres next Friday) is the director’s first foray in the family genre since he turned out The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 2005. It’s also decidedly less adult content for the man more famous for such violent fare as Sin City.

“I try to vary it up,” admitted Rodriguez. “You do want to take a break from one type of moviemaking to another and because I have kids and I know that kids, in general, love these movies, I want to give them something to mark their childhood.”

Rodriguez is a bit of a kid himself. In fact, on set, he appears as a child in a sandbox playing with every aspect of moviemaking, be it directing, editing, writing the music or designing the poster.

“He does everything,” said Cryer. “I don’t think he sleeps either … we’d shoot a scene, he’d come back the next day and show us a rough cut of the scene which means he was cutting it all night and then he’d say, ‘Oh yeah, I scored it as well.’”

While some may expect Rodriguez’s fractured duties might dilute his attention to the acting, Cryer insists he never felt deprived of the filmmaker’s attention. In fact, if he possessed that wishing rock, he might even ask to reunite with the famed director.

“You just get this feeling that he’s like Santa Claus and he’s in charge of the whole workshop,” said Cryer. “As an actor, instead of being this little cog in the wheel, you get the big picture while you’re doing it which is great.”

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