Despite starring in a major blockbuster like X-Men: Apocalypse, Tye Sheridan still excels at playing rich characters in smaller, independent movies, such as Mud and Joe, films he can really deep dive into. Now out in theaters, Detour is his latest indie effort, and it’s a crime thriller well worth a watch.
Sheridan portrays a young law student named Harper in the film, who blindly and drunkenly enters into a pact with Johnny (Emory Cohen), a dangerous thug who offers to kill Harper’s stepfather after Harper tells him he thinks the man’s responsible for the accident that sent his mother into a coma.
When Johnny shows up at Harper’s door the next day, he demands they drive to Las Vegas, where Harper’s stepdad will be. Also along for the ride is Cherry (Bel Powley), Johnny’s reluctant associate, but as the trio head into the desert, things don’t go as planned – and they all find themselves at a treacherous crossroads.
At the recent press day for Detour, we sat down with Sheridan to talk about the film, how he connected with his co-stars Cohen and Powley, and what it was like shooting the film in South Africa.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
Detour had a real ’70s gritty feel, like The Getaway. Was that the intent?
Tye Sheridan: Yeah, that’s what [Christopher Smith] was going for. There were several films he was referencing while shooting. He was really into that era, and into Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, and all those guys. It was something he’d continually talk about when making this film. He kept telling me, “Tye, you’re a young Paul Newman!” I said, “Chris, you think what you want, but I think other people might take something else away.” We knew it was a kind of a homage to that style of filmmaking.
What was your reaction when you first read the script?
Sheridan: I loved it. At the time, I was reading some pretty cool things coming across my plate and then I read this and it just blew me away. And I said, “this is one of the best scripts I’ve read and I really want to be a part of this one. I want to make this film.” We quickly set up a phone call with Chris and he was like, “oh, I love that film!” and I said, “That’s one of my favorites!” We just realized that many of the filmmakers and films he loves, I do, too. It’s cool when you can connect with someone like that.
So, who are some of the directors you really respect?
Sheridan: I really adore Paul Thomas Anderson, and Darren Aronofsky. I wish I could work with them, I hope so.
How did you relate to your character, Harper?
Sheridan: The movie is about misconception; it’s about guilt. It’s also about love and what you do when you believe someone is unjust. I think those are all things I think any human can relate to. You just find experiences or things that you’ve felt in your personal life. Maybe not as drastic as it is in this movie, but you can relate to as a character.
In this case, it was right there on the page and I understood his inner emotion and what he was feeling internally. And having conversations with Chris, I think we knew what we were getting into. We had a good idea of what we wanted to do. When you have a character like that, that’s so rich, it’s really fun to work with, especially when it just pops right off the page like it did in this script.
Emory Cohen and Bel Powley also quite good in this. The three of you made a formidable team.
Sheridan: They’re incredible, I think they’re so great. We all got pretty close while shooting. I had a week, six days a week, of shooting, so it was pretty intense. The first six days was just me inside the house. At the point when we were shooting, I don’t think we even had Emory on board yet. He came in just that week, and we were over the moon about it that we got someone as good as he was.
We had been talking about him for awhile, so when he was in, it was triumphant. I met him and talked to him and thought he was a really nice guy. Then we did this scene together, the one in which he comes to my doorstep, and basically tells me we’re going to Vegas, like, no question. I remember opening up the door, and his intense stare, he just scared the shit out of me. Really. He scared me. I didn’t think it was going to have that much effect. He’s really this warm, sweet guy, very endearing, on the surface, but can be a real asshole when he wants to.