CS Interviews: Tye Sheridan Talks Wireless
The fantastic new mini-series Wireless is currently streaming on Quibi and to celebrate we sat down and discussed the show with star Tye Sheridan and the actor discussed everything from the technical challenges presented by the show’s unique new format and also shared his thoughts on cell phones and their place in society.
In Wireless, on a sparsely traveled road deep in the Colorado mountains, college student Andy Braddock (Sheridan) drives to a New Year’s Eve party to try to rekindle a relationship with his ex-girlfriend. Distracted by his phone, Andy collides with a snowbank and hurtles into a ravine. Wounded and alone, Andy turns to his quickly dying cell for rescue, but help is far from a phone call away.
From executive producer Steven Soderbergh comes a suspense thriller like no other, as the viewer takes the story into their own hands. Two narratives play out simultaneously: watch horizontally for a cinematic view; twist vertically to experience Andy’s phone as your own, as he fights to stay alive.
The series also stars Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Lukas Gage (Euphoria), Francesca Reale (Stranger Things Season 2), and Mace Coronel (Nicky Ricky Dicky and Dawn.
The series is created by newcomers Zach Wechter and Jack Seidman, who will also serve as executive producers with Wechter also set to direct. Michael Sugar, Cathy Konrad, and Danny Sherman will executive produce along with Propagate’s Ben Silverman, Howard Owens, Rodney Ferrell, and Greg Lipstone. Wireless is a co-production by Pickpocket, Treeline Film, and Propagate with Christian Heuer and Isabel San Vargas to produce.
ComingSoon.net: Talk about Wireless – how did you get involved? What was your initial reaction to the script and concept?
Tye Sheridan: I first watched Pocket, a short film directed by Zach Wechter and Mishka Kornai, and I thought “Alright, this is pretty interesting”. The film examines a year in the life of a 15 year old boy seen through the perspective of his iPhone, and it’s a “made-for-mobile” only film (you watch it in portrait mode rather than landscape). When I started digging in to Wireless a bit more, I was super intrigued by the “turnstyle” concept and the idea of the “iPhone” becoming an actual setting for this story. It felt very relevant to our current circumstance in society and the relationship that almost every one of us have with our smartphones. This new format became so exciting to me— because of the challenges that it would inspire and the opportunities it would present by working on something that was completely new and the “first of its kind”.
Beyond the “first of its kind” technical format that the story is propelled by, I thought the plot was great, and I was excited by how “contemporary” it felt in contrast to some other projects that I’d worked on in the past.
CS: How did you approach Andy? How was he different from other characters you’d portrayed in the past?
Sheridan: I think the approach to Andy was mainly led by the core idea that he would represent and symbolize the relationship in which society has formed with their iPhone, social media profiles and the digital interface that we all connect through. It was very different than any other character I’ve played, simply because he was the most contemporary role I’ve had the opportunity of taking a crack at, and ultimately, I think we just wanted him to be a very relatable guy.
CS: How difficult was the production to pull off? Was there an added difficulty in shooting the cell phone scenes?
Sheridan: Indeed it was very difficult. We had only 19 days to shoot the entire project, and because the story occurs in two separate perspectives simultaneously (portrait and landscape), it was like making two films at once. The film was challenging on many different levels: technologically, time-wise, the frigid conditions that we were shooting in. Although capturing and executing this format was very challenging (mostly due to the fact that the iPhone isn’t specifically designed for this), it was all very authentic because we were able to capture the “phone call” scenes simultaneously in real-time. All of the FaceTime calls you see in the show were actually being screen recorded locally on the two separate iPhones while we performed the scenes in different locations.
CS: In the film, Andy’s predicament comes partially due to his cell phone addiction – and yet, the cell phone helps him in various moments of the show as well. What are your overarching feelings about cell phones and their place in society?
Sheridan: Well, that’s a great question because it brings us to the ultimate question that the show is provoking us to ask ourselves: Is my relationship with my iPhone good or bad? We see both the good and the bad in Andy’s relationship with his iPhone. My opinion is that it depends on how you use your iPhone, what you use it for. On one hand, they can be a great tool to help us do things faster, learn things faster, connect faster, store data that our brains aren’t capable of storing, but on the other hand, they can also act as huge distractions in our lives and inhibit our ability to be present in the world. It may be the ultimate Paradox in society today…
CS: What is the core theme of Wireless, in your opinion?
Sheridan: The story explores many themes, and I think each person that sees the show may take away something different. For me, I would say that the core theme ultimately reflects Andy’s biggest overcoming— which is his realization that he’s been living his life within a lie. He’s lied to his family, his friends, even to himself, and that can be a very difficult hole to dig yourself out of, but he knows that if he doesn’t do it, it’ll weigh him down forever and keep him from growing into a better person.
CS: You spend the entire series alone. How difficult was it to act by yourself?
Sheridan: There were a lot of different elements that made this project very challenging, but I’d say that acting alone wasn’t really one of them. In fact, I’m so grateful that all of the phone calls, FaceTime calls, and text exchanges (imessage and tinder) that you see in the show were all happening in real time, so I actually got to perform these scenes with our other cast members as they were shot. Zach Wechter was adamant about doing this because he felt that it was the only way to make it feel truly authentic within this format, and I agree with him.
CS: What was it like filming with Zach Wechter?
Sheridan: Oh I love him. He really is such a genius, and a professional. No matter what situation we found ourselves in throughout production, Zach always rose above and came through in very big ways. He’s constantly pushing the boundaries of narrative into new and exciting places, and I believe that he will have a very important impact on the future of filmmaking as it pertains to its digital form.
CS: Ready Player 2 is coming out – have you heard anything in regard to a film that you can share with us? And as a side, if Steven Spielberg isn’t involved, who would be your pick to helm the film?
Sheridan: I’m so excited to read the new book, and I really wish I could tell you that there was another film in the works. There may be, but at this moment, I have no idea what the plans are exactly, and frankly, it’s out of my hands. I’d love to work on a sequel and get the gang back though, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.