Baby-faced Tyler Johnston, who stars this month in hyper-stylish neo noir thriller The Odds, grew up on The Hardy Boys and an unhealthy addiction to crime thriller novellas. Curious to indulge his obsessions, Johnston accepted the lead in Simon Davidson’s first feature-length film, and found he was able to draw on his own tender experiences as a teenager for it.
So tell me a little bit about The Odds. What intrigued you about the role?
I was shown the script a year and a half before we filmed it. It’s something that stuck out to me immediately. And when I got the script and met Simon, I was just hoping that he was going to give me the green light.
How did you get into acting?
It’s what I grew up doing. My mother was telling me that when I was four or five years old, I’d dance and sing along to children’s TV shows. She remembers me saying that I wanted to be in there – that I wanted to get inside the screen. Then I got involved in plays and drama clubs at school, and started auditioning when I was 15 or 16. In 2006, I got offered this part in a show called Grand Star. So as an 18-year-old I was flown over to France to film, which was kind of an industry wake-up call – it wasn’t in my back yard anymore, I’d have to go out and get it. Some of the tough realities of the industry were learnt on that trip.
The film explores the nature of adolescence. How did you go about preparing for the role?
I actually had a friend of mine who had a gambling problem: he broke up with his girlfriend and got into drink and drugs and that sort of thing. It showed me that gambling can be a real problem, you know?
It was recently screened at the Toronto Film Festival, which is one of the biggest film festivals in the world. How was it received?
It was my first time at the festival, and to have a movie screening there that I was the lead in, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. On the first day, Bono was there – and I immediately knew what to expect from the event. But yeah, it was great – the theatre was packed. It was a very exciting couple of weeks. On the subway in Toronto, a lady spent the whole journey praising my performance, which was nice.
Cool! Did you get her number?
[Laughs hysterically] No, but I should have.
Maybe next time. If you were to describe The Odds in three words, what would they be?
Murder, mystery and madness.
Words: Jack Mills