Youth Impact Report 2012: Up Next

Apart from a few school plays, 15-year-old Tye Sheridan had almost no acting experience when he was cast as Brad Pitt’s youngest son in Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life.” Hailing from Elkhart, Texas, Sheridan impressed “Tree” producer Sarah Green with his Southern politeness and lived-in, largely improvised performance, prompting her to suggest the young thesp for Jeff Nichols’ third feature, “Mud.”

In “Mud,” a Cannes competish title acquired for a 2013 theatrical release, Sheridan stars as a Mississippi River teenager who befriends a fugitive (Matthew McConaughey) trying to reunite with his troubled sweetheart (Reese Witherspoon). Nichols recalls that from his introduction to Sheridan, wearing jeans and boots and an unmistakably East Texas accent, he “looked exactly like what I pictured in my head for the main character.”

“He’s the best of both worlds,” Nichols says. “He came out of the invaluable Terrence Malick boot camp, where he was put in situations and told to play and be himself in front of a camera. That came naturally to him, but my style of filmmaking is heavily scripted. There was some question about how he’s going to take on this dialogue, and I was shocked to see he could do both marvelously.”

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