There's only one thing more depressing than a world-destroying apocalypse that turns its survivors into cannibals, and it's seeing a good movie ruined by bad child acting. Luckily, the New York Times assures us today, the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road will not meet such a fate. Kodi Smit-McPhee, Viggo Mortensen's 11-year-old Australian co-star (who was previously non-annoying in February's also depressing Romulus, My Father), "bowled everyone over when he tested for the part, greatly reducing the anxiety filmmakers feel when casting a child. Some of the crew privately referred to him as the Alien because of the uncanny, almost freakish way that on a moment's notice he switched accents and turned himself from a child into a movie star."
Just how good is Kodi Smit-McPhee? According to the Times' Charles McGrath, who visited the Pittsburgh set recently, while Mortensen never broke character ("bearded, gaunt, wound up and intense" — apparently he's not like this in real life), and had to do wind sprints to appear more tired before filming, Kodi had sword fights with crew members and "wandered around and hummed to himself between takes" but was able to capably transform into a starving refugee whenever cameras started rolling, pretty much proving that method acting is all a bunch of nonsense. "There are things he's done on this movie that I've never seen anybody do before … I can't say I've ever worked with a better partner," says Mortensen, who will now exclusively shoulder the blame if The Road turns out crappy.