By the time they are 17, most teenagers are just starting to wonder about opportunities that might - if the stars align - come their way.
For Tye Sheridan, much of the dream has come true. So his next goal is a lofty one: he wants to direct a film before he turns 18 this November.
“I’d probably want to do a drama,” he told QMI Agency during a TIFF interview last September. “I don’t know if I can direct and star in a comedy.”
The young actor has had the almost unbelievable good fortune of appearing in films with Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Sean Penn (2011’s The Tree of Life); Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon (2012’s Mud); and now opposite Nicolas Cage in the recently released Joe (which had its North American premiere in Toronto).
The well-received drama played the festival circuit in 2013 and garnered Cage some of his best critical notices in years. But it is Sheridan, who more than holds his own opposite the Oscar-winner, that leaves a lasting impression long after the credits role.
“I knew that I was going to have to step up my game and really bring it for him,” Sheridan said of his experience working with Cage on the indie drama. “I think it’s my job to watch actors that have been in the business for a while. It’s my job to learn from them.”
In Joe, Sheridan plays Gary Jones who comes from an abusive home. Gary finds solace in an unlikely father figure, Joe Ransom (Cage), who makes a living poisoning trees in an unnamed part of the American south. He offers Gary a job with his crew, which causes a rift with the boy’s father. It’s a dark story that avoids a feel-good ending; something perhaps atypical of Cage and director David Gordon Green’s (Pineapple Express) more recent work.
With Joe serving as Sheridan’s third drama in a row, the knee-jerk assumption is that the youngster is all business. But he talks freely about baseball and his friends back home in Texas.
“Drama is something I’m good at, I guess,” he said. He next stars opposite John Travolta in The Forger and will appear in the film adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. He’ll also shoot a mainstream horror comedy Scouts vs. Zombies this summer.
“I just randomly fell into acting,” he said, recalling his first role in The Tree of Life. “I was so young at the time that I never really thought about acting… After I was into it, I had a feeling that I was going to end up doing this anyway somehow.
“They auditioned over 2,000 boys for that film and I went out and landed the part… it’s a crazy story.”