Where are you from? It sounds cool to say I was born in Portland, but I definitely grew up in Dallas. So I’m not satisfied with the Mexican food in Los Angeles. I’m not sure if it’s more authentic, but my palette is more accustomed to Tex Mex. And everything is bigger in Texas — the parking spaces, the lanes, the people, the guns.
Are you a Sundance virgin? Yes. I’m slightly nervous but mainly anxious and excited.
What have you heard about the Sundance experience?
I’ve heard it’s nuts and there is a crazy party scene. I’ve also heard that you shouldn’t go unless you have a reason to be there. [Me & Earl & the Dying Girl costar] Olivia [Cooke] just turned 21, so we’ll probably celebrate accordingly. Because of the altitude, we’ll have to maintain a one vodka soda to one water ratio. Do they have hot tubs in Park City?
What are you going to pack for Park City?
Plenty of socks and underwear.
Describe the character you play in Me & Earl & The Dying Girl in one sentence.
The one sentence thing is hard. Greg is a self-conscious teenager who keeps everyone at arms length. He has this one friend, Earl, that he won’t even call his friend. In his spare times, he remakes weird, old foreign films with Earl — he’s got eccentric tastes for someone his age. He’s comfortable living in this bubble, but his mom forces him to befriend this girl in his class with leukemia. And their friendship blossoms as she is deteriorating. But it’s bittersweet: There’s a lot of comedy in the movie but at the heart, it’s about these two people getting to know each other under really tragic circumstances.
What about your role in The Stanford Prison Experiment?
My character’s name is 416. All the prisoners have been stripped of their identities and the things that make them human and are reduced to just a number.
What’s the buzz about that film?
It’s about the abuse of power. It’s incredibly timely — and timeless, too.
As for Me & Earl & the Dying Girl, how is it dfferent from The Fault in Our Stars?
This is more like: What if those two characters weren’t in love and one of them died — would their relationship still mater? This movie is all about exploring different facets of a person’s life and learning about someone after they die. It forces you to look at the people and relationships you take for granted — until after they’re gone. And it’s too late.
How does it feel to be a Sundance sensation?
I mean, it hasn’t hit me yet. I’m proud of both of my movies and I know that important people will see them. That’s what feels sensational to me.