Tye Sheridan came upon the X-Men fairly late: 2014’s Days of Future Past was his introduction to the franchise. “After I saw it, I just thought, ‘Oh my God. I’ve been missing this the whole time?!’” he says. “I went back and watched all the previous films, and I quickly became obsessed.” In his defense, Sheridan, 19, wasn’t much of a film buff growing up in Texas. It was only when casting agents for Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life came to his small town that he considered a big-screen career. After wowing costars Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain in that film, Sheridan followed up with Jeff Nichols’ coming-of-age story Mud opposite Matthew McConaughey. “I was so impressed by how much emotion and power he had access to at that age,” says Nichols.
X-Men: Apocalypse finds the band of mutant heroes battling the titular all-powerful ancient villain (Oscar Isaac), who recruits his Four Horsemen — Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Psylocke (Olivia Munn), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), and Angel (Ben Hardy) — to build a new order on the ashes of humanity. Outgunned, Charles (James McAvoy) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) need the next generation of X-Men to suit up. So when Sheridan learned that producers were looking to cast a young Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops, he became determined to ace his audition. “The sophistication of the questions he would ask me were of a very intelligent nature,” says director Bryan Singer. “He thinks about the details and takes it very seriously.”
Cyclops shoots energy beams out of his eyes, but that’s all done with CGI, so during filming Sheridan sometimes felt a little silly. “Everyone else’s moves are kinda cool, and I just take off my glasses and stare at someone really intensely and growl,” he says. He’s going to have to get used to it. He has signed on for two more X-Men films and just landed the plum lead role in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Ready Player One, the cult novel about a virtual-reality world brimming with pop culture nostalgia. Sheridan can’t suppress his enthusiasm about working with Spielberg. “He’s like a living legend,” he says. “Just having the opportunity to walk into a room, shake his hand, and audition for one of his films was one of the greatest experiences.” He won’t need to audition much longer.
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