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Tye Sheridan: Steven Spielberg’s ‘Ready Player One’ Will Be a ‘Milestone for Cinema’

At the tender age of 19, Tye Sheridan has already lined up the kind of resume — filled with memorable turns for the likes of Terrence Malick and Jeff Nichols — that actors two or three decades his senior would kill for.

After impressing critics with his work in “Mud” and “Joe,” Sheridan scored the highest profile role of his burgeoning career this year — the lead in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the best-seller “Ready Player One.” The dystopian fantasy centers on a gamer who gets pulled into a virtual utopia. Sheridan promises that the picture and its ground-breaking effects will represent a “milestone” in film-making.

Sheridan spoke to Variety at the Tribeca Film Festival where his latest film, “Detour,” was debuting. He stars in the noirish thriller as a straight-laced college student who considers murdering his philandering step-father.

Have you read “Ready Player One” to prepare for the movie?

I’m reading the book now. I did read the adaptation, and I was blown away. It’s a new spin on cinema. A good third of the film takes place in a virtual realm inside a video game. What I love about the film is that it plays with some metaphorically bigger themes. I think it’s going to be a milestone for cinema in its advancements and exploration of virtual reality. I couldn’t be more excited and grateful to be a part of it.

Who do play?

The lead character. He’s almost an outcast or loser in real life and video games give him a chance to be whoever he wants to be. To create his own avatar and his own world. It’s really what kids who play video games experience. Maybe they’re dealing with something in school and it allows them to filter all of that through an outlet. They can be whoever they want to be whether or not they’re a hero in real life.

Are you going to be doing a lot of green screen work?

It’s early in the process. I’ve never really done anything like this before. I know a little bit about how we are going to shoot it and make the film, but I haven’t been totally filled in. It’s so specific and unique, and it’s never really been done before. Everything is being kept kind of quiet and confidential.

What attracted you to “Detour”?

The movie almost feels classic in its nature. It has a very unique structure. There’s split storytelling and that leaves us as an audience trying to solve the puzzle and figure the film out. It’s unlike anything I’ve read or seen before. It’s so hard to be original these days.

Do you find it hard to discover original material?

Most stuff is a lot like what’s been done before. You have some great films every year, but for the most part, no one is making films with heavy messages or themes. People are afraid of doing that. I’m not sure it’s conscious or unconscious, but it is how film has evolved.

Your character in “Detour” is going through an ethical crisis. Was that hard to play?

He was a tricky character. He’s very smart and he knows so much, but he has very little real world experience. He’s trying to gain justice and justify what he done in the film.

Do you mind watching yourself on film?

It depends on what it is. There are films of mine that I’ve seen numerous times and other ones I’ve been in that I haven’t seen at all. It depends on my experience making them. Seeing them with an audience can be great, because I have a hard time judging my own work. I get distracted by what I’m doing in a scene. With an audience you get a more authentic sense of a film.

Do you want to direct?

Absolutely. I’m interested in transitioning behind the camera. Growing up, I didn’t have a chance to watch a lot of films. It wasn’t until my teen years that I had to chance to see the classic films. I was working on my second and third films (“Mud” and “Joe”) and they were quite influential. I had no idea really on my first film what I was doing. But these filmmakers taught me the beauty of cinema. I was 14 or 15 and it dawned on me that this is what I wanted to do.

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