* We did not receive monetary compensation or product for this post. We were invited to interview Ty Simpkins courtesy of Disney.The review is in our own words and is our opinion.
Named after baseball great Ty Cobb, 12-year-old thespian Ty Simpkins is hammering slammers! The talented tween just scored another homer as Robert Downey, Jr’s newest sidekick in the Box Office hit, Iron Man 3. The Marvel Cinematic Universe film, distributed by Walt Disney Motion Pictures Studios, also includes Gwyneth Paltrow reprising her role as Stark’s love interest Pepper Potts, as well as Don Cheadle playing Stark’s best friend James Rhodes.
Simpkins has been acting since the tender age of three weeks old, and was cast twice with his sister Ryan, in Pride and Glory (2008) and Revolutionary Road (2008). From War of the Worlds (2005) to All the Kings Men (2006); Little Children (2006) to Gardens of the Night (2006); The Next Three Days (2010) to Arcadia (2012); Simpkins is steadily building a stellar resume. He’s already teamed up with Oscar winning actors such as Kate Winslet and Russell Crowe. Yet, when I sat down with Simpkins, he was the most humble, charming and laid back kid you’d ever want to meet. And, there’s no doubt he’s definitely got the chops to hang with Downey, Jr., Paltrow, and Cheadle to earn superpowers!
As the character “Harley,” Simpkins stole the spotlight in his first scene! After entering his home and discovering Stark there, Harley boldly challenges Stark! Then, upon realizing who Stark is, Harley and Stark bond over robotics chit chat, and building the Iron Man suit. When asked about his parents, Harley describes how his dad walked out, never to return, while his mom works long hours. The delivery alone was unforgettable. Simpkins was excellent in his role as a robotics genius, as Downey, Jr. picked up on that characterization immediately. Stark was in the Tennessee town where Harley lived to investigate a few veterans who had used Extremis body parts that were mysteriously blowing up.
Although not much of a people person, Stark turned the scene into a valuable teaching moment, and shared with Harley how his own father wasn’t around much. Thus, Harley became Stark’s sidekick for the Tennessee part of the journey. Stark also quickly picked up on the fact that Harley was getting bullied at school and gave him one of the Iron Man repulsive blasters to use for emergencies. Once the two buddies hit the town’s diner to look for an agent, the repulsive blaster came in handy!
Simpkins said that while filming Iron Man 3, he noticed that Robert Downey, Jr. would stay in character a lot if they were called to do extra appearances while still shooting the film. He also said that Downey Jr. also shared a few tidbits about acting. “He was natural. He did make it so easy for me that I could just act like me – only a bit different,” says Ty Simpkins. When asked who was his favorite superhero Simpkins quickly replied, “Iron Man!” A fan of both comic books and graphic novels, Simpkins says that he liked Iron Man way before captured the role of Harley.
“My favorite super power is the repulsive blast without wearing the whole Iron Man suit. I like how you get the blast coming out of your hands. I also like the power to control fire. I didn’t get to try on any of the Iron Man suits. But, I did get to try on the finger and that was pretty cool,” explains Simpkins excitedly. While he isn’t a comic book collector, Simpkins says that he really enjoys reading graphic novels because they’re easier to read, and are much longer than traditional comic books.
Simpkins says getting the Iron Man 3 role was a big thrill, especially since it’s a Marvel film, which he had already put on his “bucket list.” The actor says, “Me and my agent had this meeting. And they asked, ‘what kind of meetings do you want to do?’ And I said, ‘Oh, I kinda want to do movies based on video games.’ Because that would be fun. To be in a movie based on a video game: A Marvel movie, or an action-adventure movie. Those are the types of movies that I’d like to be in. More than just life movies like Revolution Road or something like that. More like Iron Man 3.” The lesson here: It’s never too early to start a bucket list!
Although just 12, Simpkins has already worked with some of Hollywood’s best Academy Award-winning directors such as Steven Spielberg in War of the Worlds (2005) and Todd Field in Little Children (2006). However, Simpkins says it was fun with Shane Black taking over the helm of Iron Man 3. He says of
“He was really nice and loving. He treats me like I’m a real actor. Like I’m more mature than, let’s say, a 5-year-old actor. But, he gives me the respect of an actor, say like Robert Downey, Jr. And, he takes me off the set, and talks to me. And he says, ‘I kind of want you to do it this way.’ And I’ll say, ‘OK, I’ll do it like that.’ And, I keep doing it the way he wants it done.”
He would leap at the chance to work with JJ Abrams. “I would like to be in Star Wars, I know JJ Abrams is working on that. I hope he reads this because he’s directing the new Star Wars movie. And Harrison to work with Ford! Oh, working with Harrison Ford in Star Wars would be awesome!”
As far as other actors on Simpkins’ “bucket list”? He would like to work opposite Chris Evans and Johnny Depp. He especially wants to work opposite Depp for the possible chance to star in the next Disney Pirates of the Caribbean movie. “I wanna be a cabin boy or something. Yeah, that’ll be fun.”
What’s next for the dynamic Simpkins? He will reprise his role this summer as Dalton, the child whose family is haunted in Insidious 2. Then, he stars in the thought-provoking piece, Conversations with Andy, based upon the true-life story of a boy who met renowned artist Andy Warhol set for a 2014 release. Indeed, Simpkins is much more than Iron Man’s sidekick, I believe he’s earned his own superpowers. Ty it’s time to blast off!
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