Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

At 17, Tye Sheridan Has Already Worked With Terrence Malick, Jeff Nichols and David Gordon Green. And He's Just Getting Started.

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire April 10, 2014 at 10:18AM

Tye Sheridan must be the envy of every teen actor in America. In "Joe," Sheridan takes on his most demanding role to date as an abused teen trying to get by in rural Texas who finds a fierce protector in his new employer, Joe (Nicolas Cage).
0
Joe Tye Sheridan

Tye Sheridan must be the envy of every teen actor in America.

The Texan got his start in the business by working under the legendary Terrence Malick on "The Tree of Life," only to follow that up with films as acclaimed as his breakthrough, directed by filmmakers at top of their game: Jeff Nichols' "Mud," and David Gordon Green's intense "Joe" (out this Friday in theaters and On Demand). Remarkably enough, these three films mark the 17-year-old's only credits to date (though he's got a lot in the works).

In "Joe," Sheridan takes on his most demanding role to date as an abused teen trying to get by in rural Texas who finds a fierce protector in his new employer, Joe (Nicolas Cage).

READ MORE: Exclusive Video: David Gordon Green Explains Why He Populated 'Joe' With Non Actors

Indiewire caught up with Sheridan to talk about working opposite Nicolas Cage, what Terrence Malick taught him, and how he grew up making "Joe."

You followed up "Tree of Life" by working with Jeff Nichols and David Gordon Green. Did both "Mud" and "Joe" just happen to land in your lap at the right time, or are you extremely selective with the projects you take on? Your track record is faultless, and you've only just begun!

You know I am and I'm not [selective]. I've just happened to just get cast in good movies so far, and it's very fortunate that that's happened. And also I'm very fortunate to have been able to work with really talented filmmakers for my first couple movies, which is really cool. I mean I guess I'm getting really lucky, and hopefully my luck continues.

Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in "Joe"
Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in "Joe"

How did working with Malick influence your choices going forward?

It was really an interesting experience, it was the first movie I'd ever done, the first thing I ever got cast in. They did an audition with 10,000 kids to cast the three roles for the boys in the movie, and luckily I got cast as one of the roles. And it was a great experience, it opened up my eyes to the film world, and opened up my ideas to maybe what I wanted to do and pursue as a career.

Were you a film nut before working with Malick, or did your experience with him change the way you view film?

No not at all. I was a kid that grew up in the South and was always outdoors fishing and hunting and you know, swimming in the pool during the summer. We were never indoors watching television or movies, so that was something that I was happy to have happen to me at such an early age, to open me up to watching movies and going out to the theater and seeing more films.

What did you learn from working with Malick that you brought over to your other projects?

Well I feel like it was a learning experience for me, and he taught me to just be natural in front of the camera. He didn't give me a script to read. He wanted my dialogue to just feel natural. If I was gonna have dialogue in the scene, he didn't want it to be written, he didn't want me to prepare, he just wanted me to say it and improvise. He basically just cast me as the character he wanted me to be in the movie. I was just being myself in front of the camera. But you know, it was a great experience working with him because he is a genius. And it was just such an interesting process.

David Gordon Green cast "Joe" with a lot of non-actors. What was it like working opposite them?

It was great, and if you weren't careful, some of those non-actors could really show you up. I'm serious, they're really talented and they have all the confidence in the world because they're not aware of what could go wrong on a film set, they're just thinking, "Oh man I'm being treated like a prince, and I'm in a movie with Nicolas Cage, and life is great," so really they have all the confidence in the world. And it's great to have someone like that to work with, because really they keep you on your toes, and sometimes you don't know what they're gonna say, and sometimes what they say is gold, and you just kinda have to role with whatever they're doing.

Joe, Tye Sheridan

Gary Poulter, the street performer who who plays your father is a real find. He was remarkable.

He was a non-actor too. He danced a lot on the street -- that's an interesting story, he actually passed a couple months after we shot. He didn't make it long enough to see the final cut of the film, which is really sad because he was so passionate about it, and such a talented actor, and so good in the film. But yeah, it was great working with Gary. He'd grown up in southern California and spent most of his life in Austin, Texas, and was stationed in Japan for a while, for about five years, and kind of took in some of their culture and their language. He was really a smart guy and so talented, so it's just heartbreaking that he passed as such an early point in his career.

It sounds like making "Joe" was an incredibly rich experience for you. Did you grow a lot making it?

Yeah of course, you experience a lot and you learn a lot of things about other people's lives, and it can teach you so much about life itself, and making decisions, and yeah, I really enjoyed every minute of it.

You and Nic really develop a father-son bond over the course of the film. Was it the same on set?

I wouldn't say it was a father-son bond. I know the relationship is like a father-son relationship in the film between our characters, you know, connect, but not by blood. But yeah I would say it was more of like a friendship. I feel like he (Cage) totally has my back, he makes me feel comfortable on set, and he tells me, "If you ever have problems with anybody, if you have any questions, if you need advice, call me, I'm always here." He really cares.

READ MORE: Why 'Joe' is a Comeback for Nicolas Cage and David Gordon Green

You're really just starting out. Which actors do you most look up to?

I'd say James Dean is someone that's really inspired me. Just the fact that he did only three movies before he died at such a young age, and yet everyone knows who he is. It really blows my mind.

Please don't plan on following in his footsteps.

I hope that doesn't happen. You know one time someone asked me in an interview, "Is there anyone you would like to model your career after?" And I said, "I kind of want to be like James Dean." And then I started thinking about it and was like, "But I don't want to die at the age of 24."

This article is related to: Tye Sheridan, Joe, David Gordon Green, Nicolas Cage, Drama, Interviews, Filmmaker Toolkit: Acting, Terrence Malick, Jeff Nichols






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More