Meet Ty Simpkins, the youngest cast member starring in the blockbuster Iron Man 3! The 11-year-old actor plays Harley Keener, a small town boy who befriends Tony Stark during the newest installment of the uber-popular Marvel series. Ty met with a whole room full of moms who asked him all about his role, how he got his job and how awesome it was to work with the one and only Robert Downey Jr..
What’s your favorite aspect of your character?
I think my favorite aspect of being my character is that I get to meet Tony Stark. But I’m similar to him. Because I’m a genius in the movie. And he’s a genius in the movie, of course, more of a genius than my character.
Do you have a favorite hero?
Iron Man. I mean it– it’s been my dream.
How does it feel to be working with Robert?
Oh, it’s awesome. Like literally Robert Downey Jr. is my favorite person.
How did you get into acting?
So I’ve been acting since I was born. I was still in my mom’s stomach when the people called and asked me to be on this– I think it was like at– it was either a TV show or a soap opera. I’m not sure. But they asked me, uh, they didn’t ask me, they asked my mom. And she said I’m not born yet. Then they said we’ll wait.
Would you recommend this career?
Well, it really just depends on opinion. But personally I would– I would suggest acting.
What was your biggest challenge during filming?
One line kept getting like annoying. And I had to say “retro-reflection panels”. And it was really hard. And then once the day was over I knew how to say it. That happens a lot.
How do you find a healthy life balance?
Sometimes if we’re still in LA on the breaks we’ll still go back and go to school and stuff. And I’ll see my friends a lot. And then we film. And I have a studio teacher to teach me unless I’m in summer.
What are some favorite non-acting activities?
I like to play baseball. I like to fence. Yeah. And I like to make Lego stop motion videos.
What’s your next project?
So, I just finished Insidious 2. That comes out in September. And I’m really excited for this movie called Conversations with Andy. It’s about a sixth grade kid who is having a tough time in his like– in his– with his family. Like they’re getting a divorce and stuff. And then he meets Andy Warhol. And Andy helps him out and stuff. So I’m really excited for that.
Who are your biggest role models?
So there’s Robert Downey Jr. Yeah. Chris Evans. Johnny Depp. And that’s it.
Who would you love to work with?
Um, besides Robert Downey Jr., I would love to work with Chris Evans or Johnny Depp.
How should kids prepare for watching this film?
Oh, well, I haven’t seen the movie yet either (he said before the big premiere). It’s gonna be my first time seeing it. I did see the trailer. And there is blowing up stuff. You might just want to tell them (your kids) there is gonna be some like explosions. You just might want to be prepared for shocking things and stuff like that.
How did you react to getting the part?
I screamed yes. I was really excited. And I was at a cello class. And it kind of just made it even better, cello even better.
Who is your biggest supporter?
My biggest supporter? My mom.
What’s your all time favorite movie?
My all time favorite movie? The Avengers.
What’s your favorite way to pass time on set?
It depends. Like if I’m in summer I usually hang out with the studio teacher, like the one that was on this set was pretty awesome ’cause she had an iPad. And like she had like educational games. There was one really cool (one) called Oregon Trail. And that’s just really awesome.
How did you get the part?
We got a call from my agent. And I was really excited. I’m like, oh, this is so cool. And then we went to the audition. But it was so top secret that we couldn’t look at the script until we got to the audition. And but it was really easy ’cause it was only two scenes that were short. So, it was pretty easy.
Then we hadn’t heard for a while. We got a callback. And I was like, “oh, okay, cool, cool. This is awesome. I can’t believe I got a callback.” So we went to the call back. The producers, the directors were. And we went through the scene only with one more scene. And that was a bit more difficult to learn because it was longer. It was a giant monologue– like a paragraph.
And then we hadn’t heard for an even longer time. And then our agent said that we gotta get a chemistry read with Robert Downey Jr. and I was really excited for that. And then we flew out there. And then to North Carolina where we filmed the movie. And I was looking around. I was like “where is Robert Downey Jr.?”
And I couldn’t find him. And they were just introducing me to everyone. And then there was a guy with a hat and glasses. And I just completely looked past him. And then the lady that was introducing me to everyone said. “and you know who this is.” And the guy took off the hat and the glasses. And it was Robert Downey Jr.. I mean it was a really disguise. I don’t know how I missed it.
Were you nervous when you met him?
He actually asked me that. And I said, no, I’m just really excited to meet him.
And their chemistry on the set? It was fantastic! You can see for yourself and go see Iron Man 3, in theaters now.