Chances are you’ve seen talented and prolific young actor Ty Simpkins stealing scenes in a multitude of films like Iron Man 3, Insidious, even War of the Worlds which Simpkins doesn’t even remember filming because he was three years old. His latest role is in Jurassic World as the dinosaur-obsessed, idealistic youngster Gray, and if it weren’t for the impressive dino FX and the likes of current It-guy leading man Chris Pratt, Simpkins would once again be #1 scene-stealer.
Screen Rant recently sat down with the now-13-year-old to explain what it’s really like acting opposite dinosaurs, actual scares sustained on set, and what he’d like to see in a Jurassic World sequel.
I loved what you and Nick [Robinson] said in the press conference about what you’ve learned about dinosaurs while shooting the film, were there any other things you learned that surprised you?
I learned that, not in this movie, but that T-rexes could see people when they don’t move, they actually have keen eyes. On this film I learned that raptors didn’t hunt in packs of three, they could hunt in packs of four or five. I always thought they hunted in packs three.
What was the most fun aspect of how the crew acted as dinosaurs for you?
Probably the raptor dancers because they are actual people who had to learn how to move like a raptor and attack like a raptor, they were the most helpful I think but also it was very hard to keep a straight face because it’s a bunch of guys in grey suits with raptor helmets on making taunting gestures at you, snapping at you.
Did they have actual claws or were they just using their hands?
No, they were just using their hands.
Was there any moment that actually scared you or was it all acting?
There is this part in the gyrosphere sequence where we had to go upside down, but that wasn’t the scary part. The scary part was the last sequence we shot in the gyrospheres where we had to go up twelve feet high and then get flipped upside down really fast. That scared me. Also there is a scene, the one where the Indominus is attacking the kiosk and Chris’ character had the gun and he was firing off blanks and those are really loud. I don’t really like loud noises so when I ran into the kiosk first and was surrounded by all these plush dinosaurs so I couldn’t really hear anything when he shot the gun. The second time we did it, I ran and was sliding in as the first blank went off and that kind of freaked me out a bit because it was really loud and scary.
Hopefully it doesn’t hurt your ears too much, but maybe that helps with your reaction?
Definitely. I think the reason why it scared me is it sounds like a real gunshot and I’ve never heard a gunshot in person.
Was (paleontologist consultant) Jack Horner on set at all or any other paleontologists?
Yeah, they were the ones who taught the raptor dancers how to move and they were the ones who kind of designed the movements of the Indominus Rex.
Nick Robinson mentioned that you got to see the finished film with director Colin Trevorrow in an empty IMAX theater. How was that for you?
When the theme went off for the first time in [my character’s] hotel room, I started crying when you could see the entire park. It was just very amazing. Also in the gyrosphere sequence when the Indominus came out and started chasing us, that was amazing because I was like, ‘Woah! She’s actually there!” which kind of confused me a bit, but it looks great.
Do you hope to continue with more of these movies? Have they talked about if you can all come back together?
Yeah definitely. I hope that I continue with Jurassic Park films and that I can do more in the future.
In being around and watching Chris Pratt on this film, would you be up for a more action-oriented role in the future?
Definitely. First of all, I want to be like Chris. Chris is actually a badass. I want to do stuff like [his character] Owen, always carrying a gun around and doing all this heroic stuff, I want to be in a lot of action films, that would be really cool.
How do you, and probably your parents, decide how often you work?
We try to do two movies a year and we try to do them in the summer so I don’t miss any school.
Are you also not on social media like Nick?
No, I am. It’s TySimpkinsActor on Twitter.
What have you enjoyed about that, interacting with fans?
It’s really nice to talk to everyone and see how they’re doing and how they like the movies I’ve been in.
How did they shoot the pteranodon sequence?
There was nothing there, it was just bunch of people screaming and running around. They had a huge fan that would blow on people’s faces, like their wings flapping in their faces, and there were six big stunts. When the camera was circling around us, Colin would shout out, “One!” and the person would do their stunt, and then “Two!” “Three!” and they would go as he called it.
What was your most physical day?
Probably the pteranodon attack on [the park’s] Main Street because there was a lot of running around back and forth or, that last kiosk scene. That had a lot of physical elements.
What’s next for you?
Next year I have a movie coming out called The Nice Guys, it’s directed by Shane Black, with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, but I’m only in one scene.
Jurassic World opens in theaters June 12, 2015.