It's a relief to see Kodi Smit-McPhee laugh. The 16-year-old Australian actor has played remarkably unhappy roles: He's a boy ghost in Dead Europe, the new family psychodrama from Tony Krawitz, at TIFF this year; he was a boy loner in the 2010 vampire remake Let Me In; and in 2009, he was a boy facing death in The Road.
"I've been joking that On the Road is the prequel to The Road," he says, kicking back in his chair at the Intercontinental Hotel. "I don't know if that's a very good joke."
He'd better learn, because after three lead-heavy films, all he wants is to do is, like, a stoner comedy with James Franco. "Yeah, something like Pineapple Express or Superbad would be amazing," he says. "I think I've been good at getting into lonely and troubled characters because, not to brag, but I'm the complete opposite in real life."
Smit-McPhee, raised in Melbourne and coached by his actor dad, Andy McPhee, is talented enough to do whatever he wants. On film, he has a face as fragile and changeable as April weather.
In person, he's a rangy, laidback, immensely likable kid who spends his spare time making dubstep tracks under the name Koda Spekz.
"Want to listen?" He pulls out his iPhone. "Okay, this one's called Bass Parade…."
Well, either I'm suddenly too old for new beats, or it's a good thing Smit-McPhee is slaying his day job. He's got four films slated for release in 2013, including Carlo Carlei's Romeo & Juliet. Kodi might just be the new Leo.