Jeremy Sumpter is best known for his role in the film Peter Pan (2003). He also appeared in a reoccurring role in Friday Night Lights, and in the films Frailty and Soul Surfer. He can currently be seen in the disaster flick Into the Storm.
What was it like growing up in Kentucky? What did you enjoy most about that?
Growing up in Kentucky was great. You couldn’t ask for a better place to be raised. I grew up fishing, hunting, camping and playing with my buddies in the woods and just being a little wild country boy.
When did you first become interested in acting? Did you ever want to do anything else?
When I wasn’t fishing or hunting or catching catfish in the creek with my bare hands, I was inside watching movies. One film I watched all the time was Twister. It just so happens that Bill Paxton gave me my big break, casting me in my first film, Frailty. I’ll be forever grateful as that is what landed me further roles.
What do you love most about acting?
I love acting because you get to be imaginative and become other people. I know a lot of us think at some point “I wish I was someone else.” Well that’s my job, to be someone else and bring them alive.
How old were you when you had to portray the young Adam Mieks in Frailty?
When I played Adam Meiks in Frailty I was eleven.
There was some controversy at the time due to the violent content of the film and the young age of the actors. What are your thoughts on that? What was that whole experience like? Did you enjoy working with Bill Paxton?
I don’t recall there being controversy. I know that there were two young boys being put into an intense situation with a crazy father. That can be a little hard to watch, seeing these two boys dropping chopped up bodies out bags into these graves and burying them for their dad. Like I said earlier, we are playing other characters and bringing them to life so if that is the way you felt, I guess it was a job well done for us.
Demons were a major part of the story in Frailty. What are you feelings on demons and such?
I like paranormal stuff but I don’t really believe in ghosts. I believe in demons. I’m a Christian and I know there are demons out there but I’m not too worried about them.
What was it like to portray Peter Pan? Has your experience there served you well in the roles you have had since?
Like I said earlier about Frailty, Peter Pan got me future roles and brought me a lot of stuff. Because I did Frailty, I got Peter Pan. One of the producers watched Frailty and said, “hey let’s bring that kid in from Peter Pan.” I went in and did my thing and I was the guy. Peter Pan was another big movie which I starred in and it took me to a different level. A lot of things happened for me after that and I am truly grateful.
Do people seem to recognize you most for that role? Does it ever get annoying?
I do get recognized all the time but it never gets annoying. I can have a full beard, a hat and sunglasses and people will look at me and they are kind of confused but I will smile and they will come up and say they couldn’t recognize me at first but then you had that big smile and that’s what made us realize it was you. I will always be that character, it is going to be one of those characters that is going to live on forever and ever and I am happy to be part of that. In this film in particular, it was just such a beautiful movie that it really hit home for a lot of people and so it is great to have that. I will always be grateful that I made the fans happy and I will always be Peter Pan in my heart. I am an actor so I’m on to other roles and that is what I am working on now.
Is there any one role that has been your favorite?
I would say Peter Pan is one of my favorites.
Can you tell us a little more about Into the Storm? What can our readers expect from that particular film?
Into the Storm is a tornado movie about this group of storm chasers that come to this town where there happens to be an onslaught of tornados. The tornados devastate the town of Silverton and they are caught in the middle of it. In the meantime, you have the father who has lost his son and is searching for him. It is a found footage film. We shoot with cell phones and street cams so it brings you closer to the film. Into the Storm is billed as Twister on steroids. Frailty was my first film and Twister was my favorite film growing up so it was great to work with Bill Paxton and then a few years later I got to work with Helen Hunt on Soul Surfer and now here I am playing a storm chaser in Into the Storm, so I think that’s awesome how that worked out.
What direction do you hope to see your career take in the years ahead? Do you have a dream role you’d most like to play?
For me I want to widen my range of what I do in the entertainment industry. I want to be a producer which I just did. I co-produced a film called The Squeeze. It was great to be able to produce my first film and also star in it. I would like to direct. I would like to be the guy that makes everything that we see happen. It would be cool to do that and I think I would be good at it but I love acting and that is my job.I hope I do it for the rest of my life.
I don’t think about dream roles. I take roles that I like so it’s not like I’m looking for a particular role. I’m open to all types of roles so I can’t really say that I have dream role, because if I had a dream role and played it, what would I do then.
What do you see yourself doing should you ever give up acting?
I will never give up acting. If I wasn’t acting, I would try and go on the PGA tour. When I’m not acting, I play golf every day. I’m a scratch golfer. So if I had the time to really dig into that and spend all my time like I spend on acting and do it toward golf, I think I might be able to get my tour card and maybe win a couple of tournaments. But I am an actor and that is what I do.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
Right now, I am taking some time off to play golf. I just finished a couple of movies. One is called Take Down with Max Deacon who also worked with me on Into the Storm. So it was cool to work with him again on that. It is going to be a great movie and I think you are all going to love it. It was directed by Jim Gillespie and I star in it with Phoebe Tonkin. So look forward to that. I’ve got The Squeeze that comes out next year with Christopher McDonald, directed by Terry Jastrow.
Is there anything you’d like to say before you go?
I love my fans and there is nothing more important to be than making them happy and I will do my best to make sure I keep doing that. I am happy with the way my career is going now and am truly appreciative of fans.