It may sound impossible, but there are some people who don't know anything about Brad Pitt. One of those people was Tye Sheridan, who at 11 was cast as one of Pitt's sons in "The Tree of Life."
Since that breakout turn the Texas native, now 17, also has held his own alongside Matthew McConaughey in "Mud" and Nicolas Cage in "Joe," opening Friday. In the film, directed by David Gordon Green ("Pineapple Express," "Prince Avalanche"), Sheridan plays Gary, who talks Joe (Nicolas Cage) into hiring the teenager on his crew, poisoning trees so they can be chopped down.
The part won Sheridan the Marcello Mastroianni award for the Best Young Actor at the 2013 Venice Film Festival, and it's another example of the promising newcomer using his real-life outdoors experience -- he's an avid hunter and fisherman who rode dirtbikes and drove boats in "Mud" -- to enhance his performance.
"Other kids, this is the industry they grew up in and they don't have anything to pull from," Sheridan said at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. "I'm totally fortunate to have something to pull out of my past experience and put in my work."
"Joe" won't be all we hear from the actor this year. Among several other starring roles, Sheridan also plays a crucial role in "Dark Places," the highly anticipated adaptation of Gillian Flynn's novel starring Charlize Theron, Christina Hendricks and Chloe Grace Moretz.
Acting with the stars: Tye Sheridan compares his experience with Pitt, McConaughey and Cage
The first movie Sheridan saw him in:
Brad Pitt: I don't know. When I filmed "Tree of Life," I wasn't a big movie watcher. Honestly, I didn't even know who Brad Pitt was.
Matthew McConaughey: I remember seeing him in some of his romantic comedies. Actually, I saw him in "Dazed and Confused," "Fool's Gold." "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past," that was probably the first one I saw.
Nicolas Cage: Of course I saw him in the ["Ghost Rider" movies] when I was younger. I remember watching "The Rock" when I was really young with my dad. I think that was the first movie I had ever seen with him.
BP: [None.] But it was like I wasn't intimidated either. Which is good because I feel like if I would have been a fan of his and seen all his movies then it might have been a little intimidating or overwhelming for me.
MM: I think it was a little bit more intimidating. But it was like, "This should be fun. Me and this guy are both from Texas, so it should be fun."
NC: "Wow, this guy's crazy." No, not really. I love Nic. He's a super-nice guy, and he's a great friend.
BP: I remember the first time I met him. I think they were doing a camera test. He was wearing this army suit, like 1940s army suit. Me and another kid that was in "The Tree of Life," we had some rope and we were trying to rope a mailbox. And he walks over to us and introduces himself, and he's slinging the rope and he's trying to rope the mailbox with us.
MM: I remember he was super cool. He told me, "Hey, man, I'm Matthew. We're going to have a lot of fun on this movie."
NC: I had a great first impression because when I first met him, he introduced himself. He stuck out his hand, he grabbed my hand firmly and said, "Hey, my name's Nic." Of course everyone knows who Nicolas Cage is, but I felt like it was very humbling to see him introduce himself as Nic.
Intimidation level from 1 to 10:
BP: [Zero]. I wouldn't say there was any intimidation.
MM: I would say a 3.
NC: Maybe a little bit, but not too much.
How Sheridan characterizes their on-set relationship:
BP: I remember him as being very cool and somewhat like a mentor. He was watching out for us.
MM: I would say it was more of like a friendship. Like a buddy-buddy type relationship.
NC: It was good. We had fun. We both like classic rock and a lot of the same music.
If Sheridan can do an impersonation of him:
BP: Oh, no, no, no, I don't. I can do Nicolas Cage, but there's some people that I just can't do. It's something in your voice.
MM: It's not good. I'll give it a go. [As McConaughey] "All right, all right, all right." That's all I got. [Laughs] How's yours? Let's hear. (I do mine.) [Laughs] That was better than mine.
NC: [as Cage] "Yeah, sure, this is my Nicolas Cage impression. It's not very good, but I try."
What he'd like to do with more time during his first visit in Chicago: "I'd love to go to Wrigley Field and see the Cubs play. Also I gotta get Nuts on Clark. My girlfriend keeps telling me, `You gotta get Nuts on Clark before you leave. Make sure you get it.' `OK, OK.'"
Something he doesn't like that most teenagers do: Video games and technology
Something he likes that most teenagers do too: Girls
His favorite movie: "Despicable Me"
Artists he loves: The Avett Brothers, Iron and Wine
His favorite place in the world: Texas. "I hope I always live there and plan to keep it in my roots," he says.
Somewhere he's never been that he wants to go: New York, where he's going in a few days for the "Joe" premiere
Watch Matt review the week's big new movies Fridays at noon on NBC.
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