Got his first big break with a lead role as a stuttering, nerdy high school student opposite Anna Kendrick in "Rocket Science." Now 24, he has been keeping busy with roles in pics such as "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and "Daydream Nation." He will soon be seen in Tyler Shields' thriller "Final Girl," with Abigail Breslin and Wes Bentley.
Thompson would foam at the mouth to act, literally. As a kid, he would imitate characters he'd see in movies, staying in character for up to two weeks, until the next film came along. For instance, after seeing "Dennis the Menace," he says he would let foam drip down his chin when brushing his teeth. Eventually his parents caught on and forbade him to watch that movie. Now, he says, he imitates friends and people he meets.
A CHILDLIKE APPROACH TO ACTING
He still carries over what he learned as a kid with friends while growing up in Vancouver, creating imaginary worlds in the backyard. "I just pretend I'm in that situation, we're just playing pretend."
"Rocket Science" repped a break not only in terms of career, but also as a thesp: "I was working with all these amazing actors, and I was just like, 'Wow, this is what it can be like.' It was the first time I felt like we were making art. This is the type of actor I want to be."
IT'S NOT 'ROCKET SCIENCE'
Sometimes people are shocked to discover he's nothing like the characters he plays. "One of my biggest problems after 'Rocket Science' is that I would meet all these directors and they would be, 'We like him, he's a nice guy, but he's not as nerdy as we thought.' " Still, he says, typecasting is not a bad thing. "If you're being typecast, then you're good at playing that character, and people want to see you keep doing that."
When asked about an actor he'd like to be compared with or a film he'd like to be involved in, Thompson is noncommittal. "I just like working and making movies," he says.
In his directorial debut, art photographer Tyler Shields has produced a look in "Final Girl" that appeals to Thompson. "I'm excited by filmmakers that have their own palette, and Tyler Shields has that," explains the actor, who recalls a particularly stylized shot in which his ragtag group of young serial killers walks down the street, a strong light casting shadows in front of them. "I've got a baseball bat, and Logan (Huffman) has an ax over his shoulder; we're walking in these tuxedos." He laughs, "This is the coolest we've ever looked."