ABOVE: KODI SMIT-MCPHEE IN NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 2014. SWEATER: DIOR HOMME. SHIRT: IRO. GROOMING PRODUCTS: MAC, INCLUDING LIGHTFUL MOISTURE CRÈME. STYLING: VANESSA CHOW. HAIR: BRIAN BUENAVENTURA FOR BUMBLE AND BUMBLE/MANAGEMENT ARTISTS. GROOMING: RAUL OTERO. SPECIAL THANKS: FAST ASHLEYS.
At age 18, Kodi Smit-McPhee has amassed a list of credits that any actor would sell his soul for. Since making his Hollywood debut in the 2009 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Smit-McPhee has starred opposite such talents as Ben Kingsley, Gary Oldman, Michael Fassbender, and Michael Shannon. “I’m always working with amazing people,” he says. “They’re just kind of put in my path. But when you meet them, you realize they’re a normal person like you.” Smit-McPhee got his start in Melbourne, Australia, via his father, an actor who encouraged his son to start auditioning at the age of 8. Hollywood called a few years later, and the family moved to L.A., where the younger Smit-McPhee was cast in 2010’s Let Me In, the remake of Swedish horror hit Let the Right One In (2008). “Knowing that I was going to America and even just having meetings was unfathomable,” he says. “Especially for how quickly it happened.”
At the moment, Smit-McPhee is back in Melbourne filming a TV remake of the 1981 Mel Gibson war drama Gallipoli. That film made Gibson a star. It could do the same for Smit-McPhee if one of his 2014 projects doesn’t manage to get the job done first: This summer’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes finds him playing a human battling a tribe of rogue simians; in The Young Ones, he stars opposite Shannon and Elle Fanning in a sci-fi drama about a world where water is scarce; and in Slow West, he’s Michael Fassbender’s traveling companion in a scrappy 19th-century Western. “Fassbender was awesome,” says Smit-McPhee. “We clicked when I realized he was just a kid at heart. We were cracking jokes all day and playing ’80s music between takes.”
An aspiring music producer, rapper, poet, short-story writer, and photographer, Smit-McPhee, who now lives full-time in L.A., sees his future behind the camera instead of in front of it. “The most important thing I have learned from the people I’ve worked with is that you have to love what you do,” he says. “That passion will drive you anywhere you want to go. The places I want to be are happy and full of love—it’s an infinite kind of circle.”