Christian Convery on How ‘Sweet Tooth’ Can Help to Push Through Dark Times

(Featured image courtesy of Kirsty Griffin and Netflix)

At eleven years old, Convery has already amassed a very impressive resumé of projects. Consistently working from such a young age has inspired him to develop a growth mindset, always wanting to work harder and top his last performance. When looking for inspiration for his work, Christian draws from all genres, and it shows in his filmography, which ranges from horror (Van Helsing) to musical (Descendants 3) and fantasy (Lucifer). Of all of those various TV guest roles, he named Legion as the most memorable. While he was only six years old at the time and without much experience in the industry, it was an “incredible experience” for him to play a young Dan Stevens on the surreal X-Men-based series.“It’s really inspired me to make other people happy when they watch my shows, and I really love doing that. It’s my passion.”

Convery made his big screen debut in 2018 in the award-winning Beautiful Boy, in which he shared scenes with Steve Carell, Maura Tierney, and Timothée Chalamet, all of whom he had nothing but praise for. Having recently finished watching the Despicable Me series, he was thrilled to meet Carell and recalled asking him to do “the Gru voice” from the movies. He and Chalamet also grew very close on set, and “it felt we’d known each other for years and like we’re brothers practically,” which came across beautifully in the film with their authentic sibling bond.

Just a year later, Christian was back in theaters in the comedy Playing with Fire, alongside John Cena and Keegan-Michael Key. “The first day I got on set, I was laughing in tears.” Convery was able to stretch his improv skills every day on set, and “Keegan really inspired me to do more… during my scenes,” including on-the-spot decisions to jump on chairs and add some physical gags to the comedy. Now, he feels much more comfortable staying loose while filming and incorporating more improvisation to keep all his scenes more fresh. As such a stunts-heavy movie, Playing with Fire also gave Christian the opportunity to do wire training for the first time, “which was such an amazing experience.” One particular bit included Convery being shot around a fire station at “fifty million kilometers per hour” on a fire hose (seen at the end of the trailer below), and “getting to do the stunt was so thrilling.”

Now, Convery is the lead of Netflix’s brand-new fantasy Sweet Tooth. The series is about “a virus that sends the world spiraling into chaos,” a concept not entirely unfamiliar to most people now, but in the world of the show, the virus spawns a new species known as hybrids, part animal and part human. The humans aren’t sure whether hybrids caused the virus or vice versa, so Earth’s strange new population has to stay in hiding as they’re hunted by those who fear them. “We focus on one particular hybrid named Gus,” who is “part deer, part human, and lives in the woods with his father.” Having never seen a human before, he meets Jepperd, a wandering loner who he teams up with to face the dangers of the woods and the world beyond, “to see what’s left of America, to find answers and what truly is home, while encountering allies and unexpected enemies along the way.” The series has already received an enthusiastic reaction from readers of the original comic book series and a nearly perfect Rotten Tomatoes score.

One big reason why Gus has a difficult time hiding from those who seek to eradicate all hybrids are his huge furry ears and antlers, which make him stick out even in the secluded woods. After landing the role, Convery flew out to Los Angeles to sit for a molding of his head, which the costume designers used to make a special cap for the antlers. The cap includes two magnetic stubs for easy attachment and removal of the antlers, and the ears are actually remote-controlled; “there’s a puppeteer who sits at the camera and watches my movements and incorporates the ear movement into how a deer would really move,” tying minutely specific twitches to the true emotion of the scene. When asked about his favorite day on set, Convery remembered filming a scene where he took a running leap into a train car filled with toilet paper. To prepare for the shot, which involved him swinging from a large hook and flinging himself onto the moving locomotive, he got the opportunity to work closely with the stunt team on parkour training and wire training, which he described as being a blast.

To achieve the right mood of the sprawling huge forest, the team traveled to New Zealand to film, a place Christian described as simply “magical… It feels so prehistoric and beautiful… it’s surreal.” He specifically recalled one scene where he’s running across a mountain and nearly tumbles off of a steep cliff drop. With the advancement of technology that can make a green screen look more real than real life, it can sometimes be even harder to believe that such beautifully rugged landscapes on screen aren’t created by a computer, but Convery emphasized how the locations you see in Sweet Tooth are the real deal. During filming, Christian was able to meet Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan (who worked as a producing team on the series), and the young actor described how he felt an “immediate connection” with the duo.

Balancing personal life and work life is difficult for most people, especially for people in the film and television industry whose jobs are so demanding and time-consuming, and we imagine even more so for young people like Convery. However, when asked about how he finds that sweet spot between work and his “normal” kid life, Christian simply responded, “It all feels normal to me.” All of his jobs feel like unbelievable after-school activities that allow him to constantly meet new, interesting people who he can still see outside of his job, spend time outside, and learn new skills that you wouldn’t find in the majority of programs for young people. He and his castmates have taken pottery and art classes together, “which really helped us bond,” and they all had “a blast” with the time they’ve all spent getting to know each other. Ultimately, he’s found acting to be his true love because of all of those unique opportunities that no other career would possibly be able to offer.

Convery will be leading the adaptation of the popular Kate DiCamillo novel Tiger Rising, which follows a young boy named Rob who is grieving the loss of his mother and navigating a new world after moving to Florida with his father when he discovers a tiger locked up in the woods. Christian will be joined by Dennis Quaid and Queen Latifah for the adaptation, which will likely be hitting theaters later this year. In the further future, Convery hopes to keep working on Sweet Tooth and pushing his own boundaries, namely by starting a production company to become involved in all aspects of the filmmaking process.

“What I think people should take away from [Sweet Tooth] is that being different is okay. At any age.” Much of the past year and a half has been centered around finding hope and optimism during dark times, and the themes of the series mirror that quest through Gus’ story. “We really need that… to push through and say that we will get through COVID and other dark times, too.”

Sweet Tooth’s full first season is available to watch on Netflix right now, and watch out for Tiger Rising releasing later this year.

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