Three Great Things: Kodi Smit-McPhee

The multi-talented Australian actor, currently starring in 2067, on his love of Be Here Now, the creative process and the Tesla Model X.

Three Great Things is Talkhouse’s series in which artists tell us about three things they absolutely love. To mark the release on digital and on demand of 2067, the Australian sci-fi thriller starring Kodi Smit-McPhee and Ryan Kwanten, Smit-McPhee shared some of the things that make his life fuller and more meaningful. — N.D.

Be Here Now by Ram Dass
I love philosophy, spirituality, many different kinds of religious views, and even quantum physics, and Ram Dass’ 1971 book Be Here Now makes a concoction of them all. I read Be Here Now when I was about 17 and it changed my life. I always keep the book close to me. It starts by talking about Ram Dass’ life: he worked at a college and was a very successful psychologist, with all of the material gains you would wish for in the Western world. As this was during the psychedelic days of the ’60s, he was experimenting with LSD, psilocybin and natural psychedelics, and they completely cracked his whole ego and the personality that he identified with. So he began asking himself, “What is success and what is the ultimate goal beyond that?” To find answers, he went on a transformative mission through India and ultimately discovered ways in which he could stay “high” without the use of psychotropic or psychedelic drugs, namely through meditation, healing and self-help techniques.

Be Here Now helped me in a beautiful way, showing me that the cause of pain is attachment and desire. It also made me think differently about the way we identify with who or what we think we are. The book taught me how to not identify with the knowledge that created me or my environment, and helped me see that what makes me is whatever I, the observer, choose to identify with. Once I realized that, I had no need to be identified by materialistic things or money (as much as those things are very functional in terms of survival), and I discovered a much larger aspect of myself, which was very significant and always there. It changed my whole course of life, and how I treat others and myself.

The Process of Creativity
I love painting, I love making music, and I love the process of creating things, which I guess is why I have succeeded as an actor. For me, the beauty behind any form of art is that the more I can take myself and my judgment out of what I’m doing, the more something pure comes out. I’m infatuated with Salvador Dali and the movement of surrealism, and even surrealism in film, as David Lynch has utilized it, and I would like to make that kind of work myself one day. I just love the idea that the more that you remove the self – the one which has opinions and thinks it should be this way or the other way – the more you become a vessel for the universe to work through you. So I let that process work through my acting, but also in painting, drawing, graphic effects, graphic design and even music.

As an actor, I have to carry myself in a certain way in front of the world. My beliefs can be hard to vocalize and I’m not one to try and point people in a certain direction, but if I can offer pathways to spark curiosity or make people question themself or the universe, as happened to me, I think that’s a very positive thing. So the way I do that is through my art and my music. I’ve put my music out in the world, but I’ve done it beyond the guise of “actor Kodi Smit-McPhee,” because people would react differently if they know something is by the guy who plays Nightcrawler in X-Men. I want people to have a random, organic response to whatever I create.

I’ve loved cars since I was a kid, when I collected model cars. I try not to indulge too much with materialistic things, especially after I’ve worked so hard to gain that money, but I do put my money toward the enjoyment of cars. I’m not always in the mood to sit down and create something, but I can always be in the mood to drive my car. It’s like a form of moving meditation, and I love it.

I’m very happy that recently I purchased the Tesla Model X, which was my dream car for a long time, because it’s sustainable. It has 518 horsepower, the torque is insane, and the technology behind it blows me away. It’s changed my whole perspective on cars and the automotive industry. When I drive, I don’t necessarily choose a destination, but I often go to the beach. With the Model X, you can post up anywhere, put the seat down, open all the doors and lay the bed across the back seat, so I sometimes just drive to the beach and lay out there. It’s a very easy way to get a serotonin release.

Before the Model X, I had very loud, obnoxious cars, because people in Australia love noisy hot rods. I had a Corvette C7 and a BMW with a wide body, cut pipes and a chip in it that took out all the factory settings, which was completely illegal. I went from those to a Tesla, which is much more of a mature, humble car. As much as I’m focused on spirituality, we live in a world where we can choose what we identify with. I don’t let materialistic things define me, I just let them enhance my experience in the world. For a while, I thought I had to run away to a mountain to meditate until I became enlightened, but now my path is more about making a hybrid and a harmony, as Ram Dass says. You have to make harmony with this world, and I love that. I’m very comfortable with where I am.

Kodi Smit-McPhee currently stars in the sci-fi thriller 2067, which is available on digital and on demand through RLJE Films. Born in 1996 in Adelaide, Australia, Smit-McPhee started acting at the age of nine. He dropped out of high school in his first year to pursue acting and currently resides in Los Angeles as does his father Andy McPhee and sister Sianoa Smit-McPhee, who are also actors. Smit-McPhee is known for his roles in The Road, Let Me In, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: Apocalypse, and the lead role in the prehistoric film Alpha. His upcoming revenge Western The Power of Dog will be directed by Jane Campion and costars Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons. Smit-McPhee is a master of emotion and is deeply entrenched in philosophy, freemasonry and creative artistic expression.