Smit-McPhee talks indie films, ‘X-Men’



Kodi Smit-McPhee stars as Jay Cavendish in “Slow West.”

By Sidney Butler, Staff Writer

With smaller indies and his recent film “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” under his belt, Kodi Smit-McPhee is just beginning his acting takeover.

Though only 18 years old, Smit-McPhee has long been involved in the film industry. Even though his credits include bigger films like “Dead Europe” and “The Congress,” Smit-McPhee noted that he holds a close, personal affinity for independent films.

“I’ve been acting since I was eight and it kind of has flourished from the independent community,” Smit-McPhee said. “I started coming to America when I was around 11 or 12. I did ‘The Road’ and ‘Let Me In.’ Everything I’ve done has been right on that verge between studio and independent and I find that it is because those are the ones that have the really great stories and great genuine people connected to them.”

In his latest film “Slow West,” Smit-McPhee plays Jay Cavendish, a man on his quest to find the girl he loves after she flees 1800s Scotland for the Western frontier of Colorado. Michael Fassbender also stars as the mysterious and intriguing Silas, who accompanies Jay on his journey of love. However, Smit-McPhee described the film as an atypical Western and more so a coming of age tale.

“What I loved about it was merging of these two worlds, this European cinematography into the dirty kind of gritty Western America in the 1800s,” Smit-McPhee said.

Born into Scottish royalty, Jay falls in love with one of his family’s crop workers, Rose (Caren Pistorius), and once she flees Scotland with a bounty on her head, he makes it his mission to find her.

“There’s a fine line, I think ,between being brave and being stupid, and love can make us act stupid but for the right reasons, and that made him brave for the right reasons,” Smit-McPhee said. “I really think that from my point of view the passion of love just got him through absolutely anything.”

Previously, Smit-McPhee has worked with other famous actors, including Ben Kingsley in 2013’s “A Birder’s Guide to Everything.” Despite appearing next to big-name stars, Smit-McPhee said he keeps himself level-headed by stepping away from the lure of celebrity and simply admiring the craft.

“I definitely get starstruck but I try to just act normal and respectful,” Smit-McPhee said. “Once I do, I see that it shouldn’t have been any other way because I see that they’re just a real person and that we’re all just artists doing things within our lives.”

Though “Slow West” will not hit theaters until May 15, Smit-McPhee is already working on his next project, “X-Men: Apocalypse,” where he will be playing the mutant Nightcrawler.

“I literally begin filming in Montreal in three days,” he said. “I’m really excited. It’s not really something I’ve dabbled in, I’ve always done these quiet ‘in a world’ type characters so this will be really cool to do — like a superhero.”

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 28 print edition. Email Sidney Butler at [email protected]