Taylor John Smith
HBO's rich storytelling hits another milestone with this summer's Sharp Objects. Acting alongside Amy Adams and Chris Messina with the same intense and fierce bravado is Taylor John Smith. The youthful actor discusses stardom, along with the emotions that are needed to be conveyed in such deep thought-provoking roles. Smith also shares his thoughts on unwinding against a hectic schedule, and how journaling and photography have become new creative outlets.
Sharp Objects has been a hit from the very first episode. How did you get the role, and where does it place among all of the characters you have played?
I was originally not on their radar for casting. They had a set list of guys that they were going to bring in to read for the role, and they weren’t budging on it. My TV agent at the time couldn’t get me in the room to read and I desperately wanted a shot, so Joey Stanton, my theatrical agent and best friend (who believed in me so much) ended up calling casting and producers basically harassing them until they got so tired of it they said “we will let him read if you stop calling”. So he got me into the room—I read for David Rubin and Jean-Marc and I thank God—it all just clicked.
This role was definitely the most emotionally intense out of the characters I’ve gotten the opportunity to play, but also the most rewarding because the way Gillian, Marti, and Jean-Marc crafted this world allowed the actors to dive much deeper into our roles than a movie would have allowed the time for. So we got to spend so much more time focusing on the little moments of these characters that add up to be the Big moments in the end. It felt very free-flowing and organic to not be tied down to a specific shot-list as well when Jean-Marc Vallée saw something in his mind or in the moment that he wanted to capture, he would pick up the camera and just go for it. It’s was beautiful.
Obviously, we don't know how Sharp Objects ends. However, did you enjoy the duplicity that involves your character? From being accused to being an accuser.
When Natalie was killed—I truly think a big piece of John’s soul died with her. Regardless of who the town thinks did it, at a certain point John wants his own pain to end too and he no longer cares for pointing fingers. He just wants it all to end.
Sharp Objects seems to be that breakout role for any young actor. How has the praise you have received opened new doors?
It’s been an honor and a blessing to be able to work alongside such an incredible cast and team of storytellers. I made my mom—which is all the praise I need. I’m just excited to take what I learned from this experience and bring it with me to help tell the next story as truthfully as possible.
Sharp Objects takes place in Missouri, but was shot in California and Georgia. Any tips for those that want to take a stroll through the Peach state?
Bring an appetite for amazing food, take your camera with you wherever you go, keep a smile on your face and get ready to start conversations with strangers, and leave your phone in the car if you can: There is so much more to see and enjoy if you look up more than you look down.
Actors can have some pretty strenuous schedules. What is your "go-to" to unwind and relax?
I like to journal every morning and do my daily devotion, Matt Craven has taught me a lot about photography so that has been and fun new hobby of mine. I love a good book when I can knock out a couple chapters a day, I’ll call the people I love and talk to them over the phone when I can’t be there in person, and in the afternoons I like to go explore on a hike and get some alone time.
When you get time off from shooting is there a restaurant or destination that makes you feel like home?
My two favorite places to go after I’m done working would be Henderson, Nevada to be with my amazing girlfriend, and back to Los Angeles to spend time with my family and sleep in my own bed.
Last question. How do you know Tito Ortiz?
My girlfriend Jamie has known amber & Tito for a long time and I had never been to the Del Mar racetrack so they invited me out and we had a phenomenal time. Tito & Amber are such kind and generous people and a helluva lot of fun. I still know nothing about horse racing though.
Sharp Objects airs on HBO