Christopher Smith’s Detour, a new film playing at the Tribeca Film Festival, is about a young man looking to take revenge on who he deems to be a wicked step father. When a chance meeting with the unsavory Johnny Ray (Emory Cohen) opens a door to rid this father figure from his life, Harper (Tye Sheridan) finds himself on an awkward road trip into a world he never expected to be a part of. After its world premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival, we sat with Tye Sheridan to talk about his penchant for dark films and his upcoming blockbusters waiting in the wings, including depicting the origin of Cyclops becoming a mutant in X-Men: Apocalypse!
Most, if not all of your films up until this point have all had a darker tone to them. Is that something you want out of your films?
Yeah, I think that is something that I just got real lucky with and that quickly became sort of my taste. I like films that are about people and real, and honest films that are authentic depictions of real world problems. Whether it’s a father/son story that is dealing with problems in the relationship or it’s a story like this where it is about three youthful characters that find themselves in this place together, on this crazy road trip to kill my stepdad… These are all stories that kind of attract me because these are the types of films I like to watch; these are the types of stories I like to hear. It is just what I find attractive.
At this point in your career, you’ve had a lot of roles that feature you as the protagonist, but there is that accomplished older figure there too. This film is driven only by the young cast; did it have any effect on the set experience for you?
It was a great experience working with Chris [Smith], Emory, and Bel [Powley]. Everyone was heavily involved, and we came together to create this environment where we were all loving and honest with each other. It wasn’t all just hot air; it was real and we just immediately fell into this love affair with each other, if you will. We had so much fun working together because everyone’s mentality on the job was quite similar. Everyone was passionate about the project, everyone was there for the same reason, and when that happens I think you start to fall into sync with each other, and that’s what we had on this.
What about Harper as a character? As filming progressed, did your own take or feelings for the character change in anyway?
Well, Chris is an incredible writer, when I read the script I immediately fell in love with it and wanted to do this, this is the type of film I want to make next because, what the film offers—not only in the narrative, since this film deals with a split narrative—but it’s also a genre that I think is quite special. I think what the film offered me was the next step up of what felt right to me at the time. I was doing a lot of films where I play someone’s son or almost like a childlike character, and I wanted to take a step into the adult world and I read this and saw, “Young law student that has it out for his stepdad meets a hit-man,” and I thought, “This is cool. This is the type of film I like to watch!” I like Chris’s work. I like the way he talks about the project and I like the way we connect. I didn’t have to think about it for one second; I just jumped into it and never thought twice about it.
Speaking of next steps, obviously everyone is about to see you play the young Scott Summers in X-Men: Apocalypse. You’re taking over a role that was already portrayed in the past by another actor and portrayed in various forms on page and screen before. Did that change the way you prepare for a role compared to something like Detour?
Yeah, it does for sure. But at its core, it’s just a story and you’re there to embrace the character that’s on the page. First off, it’s such an honor to play a younger version of James Marsden and it’s going to be hard to live up to what he created in the X-Men universe. What’s nice about this X-Men is that it’s very much an origin story for everyone; it is all their beginnings, so it doesn’t exactly have to sync up with where we last saw these characters chronologically and who they are to us now.
It’s fun to play with that arc, and what is fun about my character in this film is it starts off with him being a mutant that hasn’t discovered his super powers. And then he discovers them and is this kind of weirdo at school, and his brother Havok [Lucas Till] introduces him to Professor X [James McAvoy] at his school for mutants. It’s not until then that he feels that he actually has a place that he feels normal and that there are people just like him at the school. He’s got to quickly get control of his super powers and help the X-Men [fight] Apocalypse at the end of the movie.
Since your debut, you’ve been pretty much thrown into the fire when it comes to the talent you’ve been working with and reception of the films the world is seeing, but it’s going to get even bigger with X-Men and Ready Player One. Do you feel that you’re used to the attention?
Every experience is a new experience, and I never would have imaged that I would be a part of something as big as X-Men. I don’t know what to expect. The movie comes out next month, and I can’t even describe my excitement. You know, Ready Player One is an actor’s dream so—I mean, to work with Spielberg is—everything.
Well then talking about an actor’s dream, is there something out there that you have in mind of what you want to do next?
I don’t think there are any particular roles at this point. I’m just looking for something that feels new, feels fresh, something that is a new spin on cinema. I think people are afraid to… in this day and age, I think people are producing films that are afraid to venture out and go into a deep narrative or explore these deeper, dark themes, and these are the films that I love, that we all love.
I think a lot of studios are afraid to make these films right now and when you get your hands on something like that, that does have depth, does have a great message, and is very inventive in its nature and takes that new spin on cinema—well it can be an old spin, but something that takes an old form of cinema and throws it into the mix of the film. I think it is really unique and really rare to find that now. Anything that just pops off the page and says to me, “Hey this is good material, there are good people working on this film, these are great characters,” that is what I care about. I just like doing things with people that I love and care about and trust to work with, and I care about good material and good content-as long as I’m doing that, I’m happy.