With Jurassic World now in theaters, I recently landed an exclusive interview with Ty Simpkins. He talked about how he landed the role, working in the Gyrosphere, if the script changed during production, getting to work with Shane Black on The Nice Guys and Iron Man 3, video games, future projects, and more.
If you didn’t know, executive producer Steven Spielberg personally oversaw the Jurassic World story development, as Trevorrow and his writing partner Derek Connolly fine-tuned the existing screenplay penned by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), which for the first time takes place within a functioning Jurassic Park. The film also stars Nick Robinson, Ty Simpkins, Vincent D’Onofrio, Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan, Jake Johnson, and Judy Greer. For more on the film, read Perri’s review.
Question: Let me start by saying congratulations on the movie, really good.
TY SIMPKINS: Thank you.
When did you realize, ‘Oh, wait a minute, this is actually a really good movie’?
SIMPKINS: I always had high hopes and I always thought it was gonna be really good. I probably realized it when I first saw it, which was a few weeks ago.
Did you see it in a screening with the whole cast?
SIMPKINS: No, it was Nick [Robinson] and I and Colin [Trevorrow]; then there were a few editors and 3D people, they were testing out the 3D in IMAX.
From when you got the script to what people are seeing on screen, how much changed along the way?
SIMPKINS: Not that much really. They tried to cut out some little inserts and Colin didn’t like it so they put it back in. There wasn’t that much change.
Talk a little bit about being cast for this role. I would imagine everybody and their brother was trying to get this; what did you have to do to land the role?
SIMPKINS: Colin Skyped me, I was in Nashville at the time and he told me a bit about the movie, what was gonna happen, and then like a month later they brought me in for an audition. Nick was there and we started talking for like 20 minutes and then they brought us in, we did the lines, and they had us scream.
Did they tell you in advance that you were gonna be screaming?
So that’s basically the fear factor.
SIMPKINS: [Laughs] Yeah.
When did you find out you actually landed the role? Was it a phone call, an email?
SIMPKINS: Phone call. I was at cello class and my dad pulled me aside and was like, ‘Ty take the phone call’ and Colin was on the phone ,and he was like, ‘Ty you booked it and Nick is gonna play your brother’ and I’m like, ‘Oh my God!’ started jumping up and down, so excited I almost cried. It was amazing.
Yeah, I can’t even imagine. How long did you have to hold it in before you could tell friends?
SIMPKINS: Forever, forever. Just before we started to film I let everyone know, I wasn’t gonna be there for a few months, the reason is because I’m filming Jurassic World. I did tell one person though, and that was my baseball coach, and one day when we were filming in New Orleans I walk outside and he was standing right there. I live here in LA and that’s where I play baseball, I’m like, ‘What are you doing here?’ and he’s like, ‘Work, I’m actually one of the sponsors.’ So in the movie he’s actually one of the sponsors for the Indominus Rex.
Oh, that’s funny, he’s one of those guys.
From when you were filming this movie – a huge production – was there a day or two that you were standing on set and you were like, ‘I can’t believe what I’m watching’, like it was so big or so real, or just a great memory from filming?
Now, I know you wouldn’t actually take anything from set because you wouldn’t steal anything, but hypothetically what did you maybe borrow? Which you of course are gonna give back at some point.
SIMPKINS: A dirty wristband. We said that we lost it and we took it home [Laughs]. It’s hanging up in my room right now and then at the end I asked the props guy if I could have a wristband, a clean one, of every color and I got a VIP one which is the blue, then there’s dark blue, orange, and then white. Funny story about the VIP bracelet I got, I used to do this [makes motion of putting bracelet on] because they’re slap-on bracelets, so I used to slap it on, take it off, slap it on, take it off, and eventually it got bent; and I looked at the bracelet that I got and it had that bump and I thought, ‘Oh, that’s so funny!’ because I got to keep one of the bracelets that I had.
Before I run out of time with you, I’m very curious about Shane Black and Nice Guys. He is a master dialogue guy, just a master, what was it like getting to work with him?
SIMPKINS: Shane is awesome, I worked with him on Iron Man 3, so it was great to see him again. He’s similar to Colin but different, he’s straight-forward in what he wants and how he wants it done.
I was gonna say you did work with him on Iron Man 3. Was it one of these things where he called you guys and said, ‘Hey, I’m working on this movie, I’m thinking you might be right for the role’ or did he still make you audition, how did that go?
SIMPKINS: Well, I’m only in one scene so there was no audition and I didn’t have any lines. We were at a party at his house and he’s talking about this movie that he’s doing and he’s like, ‘Yeah it’s called The Nice Guys, it’s about these two guys who have to solve a murder mystery about a porn star’ and then he was like, ‘There’s actually a part in the beginning for someone like you, Ty’ and I was like, ‘Oh, that would be cool, that would be cool’ and then later he was like, ‘Yeah, I want you for this role’ and then a few months later we went to Atlanta to shoot part of the thing and then we went to LA to shoot the rest.
Going back in time a little bit making Iron Man 3, that movie was kind of popular, made a little money at the box office, a few people saw it, and you get to share screen with Robert Downey Jr. What was that like, do you still remember making it?
SIMPKINS: Yeah, I was going back and like, ‘I miss filming Iron Man, I wanna go back to Wilmington’ which is where we shot, Wilmington, NC, and it’s just a nice little town that I always want to go back there, I always want to go back to filming Iron Man, to see Robert almost every day and just be on Iron Man again. I loved Iron Man.
You might be surprised to learn this, I am not 13, I’m a little bit older, it’s true. What is popular with people that are 13 right now? For example, you.
SIMPKINS: Depends, 13-year-olds or 13-year-old boys?
I’m gonna say 13-year-old boys.
SIMPKINS: Ok, 13-year-old boys. Video games is a big part of…
That’s also popular with people my age.
SIMPKINS: [Laughs] It’s a big part of a kids’ life unless – I know a few that don’t like video games people that are my age. It’s just weird because videos games let you be something that you’re not, so does acting, but it puts you in like a real situation type thing or something totally different. What else? Movies, a lot of kids like movies, comic books.
So I’ll go specific now, PS4 or Xbox One?
You don’t do the online on Xbox One? Because I’ve found the Xbox One is a little better online.
SIMPKINS: I got an Xbox One originally because Colin and his assistant, Jeff, got an Xbox One and I’m like, ‘Yeah I’ll get it, I’ll play with you guys’ so I got it and I got Destiny and I played with his assistant, Jeff, and I loved it so much and I was talking on the headset like, ‘This is so cool!’ And then I was like, ‘You know what? It’s not doing it for me’.
Well the game is not that good.
SIMPKINS: But, the entire Xbox wasn’t doing it for me, and I still enjoyed it very much and I tried to sell it to friends at school, eventually I did, and I got the money to get a PS4 and now I have a PS4. My family is very PlayStation, PS2, PS3, now PS4.
I completely understand. What are you playing on the PS4 right now?
SIMPKINS: MLB 14 Rad to the Show.
Do you do the full season or just highlights?
SIMPKINS: I do full seasons.
I forgot what it’s like being a kid and having time.
SIMPKINS: [Laughs] Well, I always create a character for like your own season, what it’s like to be a baseball star. Sometimes I make characters that are me, sometimes I make random people so you can have your name announced in the batting thing. I just love baseball, it’s one of my favorite sports.
One of my last questions for you, are you currently reading scripts, are you going out for roles, are you getting ready to film anything?
SIMPKINS: Well I was gonna do the remake of It, but the director dropped out, sadly. I was really excited and I hate clowns and that’s saying something, I would never do anything getting near a clown, I can’t go to the circus.
So you didn’t see Poltergeist.
I don’t blame you.
SIMPKINS: But there is a book series that I’ve been reading called The Ranger’s Apprentice, and that’s like fantasy and they’re making a movie. I’ve been working on a British accent and horseback riding so I can maybe get into that. That would be really cool. A lot of like parkour and stuff, and archery.
I can’t do parkour, my body doesn’t let me.
SIMPKINS: Me neither, It’s hard for me to climb things. That’s why I always play Assassin’s Creed because it gets me feeling like I can.
You know, they are making the Assassin’s Creed movie later this year.
SIMPKINS: Yeah, yeah.
Just throwing that out there.
SIMPKINS: With Robert cast in the second one, for Leonardo DaVinci I heard.
I do not know anything about that except that [Michael] Fassbender is doing it. But on that note I will say congratulations on Jurassic World, it’s gonna be a huge hit.
SIMPKINS: Thank you.