Amy Smart Talks Tyson's Run, Stargirl, & A Potential Just Friends 2 - Exclusive Interview

The following interview contains potential spoilers for "Tyson's Run."

The moment that Amy Smart laid eyes on the script for "Tyson's Run," she knew she had to be a part of it.

The film opens up audiences' eyes to the life of an autistic teenager named Tyson (Major Dodson). After spending 15 years being homeschooled by his mother (Smart), he wants to attend the same public school where his legendary father coaches football. However, instead of picking up the pigskin himself, Tyson becomes fast friends with an award-winning runner and quickly realizes he's pretty skilled at it, too. From there, the teen tries to talk his parents into letting him compete in a local marathon. He just needs them to believe in him first.


"Tyson's Run" encourages us all to believe that we can achieve anything we set ours mind to — and we sat down with Smart to talk all about how filming it inspired her to not let fear get in the way of what she wants. In an exclusive interview with The List, Smart told us why she wanted to star in "Tyson's Run" and how she prepared to tackle the parental role. She even dished on what we can expect next season on "Stargirl" and if we'll ever get to see her and Ryan Reynolds reunite in a sequel to "Just Friends."

Why Amy Smart wanted to star in Tyson's Run

What initially drew you to the story "Tyson's Run"?

I really loved how this story starts off from a family that's broken and not really getting along and seeing eye-to-eye, and from a mother who's been homeschooling her son since the beginning, and not really with the support of her husband.


It starts off where this family is not really making it in the best way, and I love the arc it takes. I love the journey the characters take to finding — to being completely honest, to the character of Tyson, finding something he's passionate about and going for it, relentlessly, without the fear getting in the way that so often [makes us] stop ourselves from something that we want to do, because we're fearful of it.

I like how the idea of her being pregnant again brings up so much for her to step into a bigger person than she is. I feel like her, as a mom, she's squashing her light and who she is and just getting by. The idea of her son going through this metamorphosis of changing and wanting more has really dominoed the entire family [into] this ultimate shift to bring the family back together.


Here's how she prepared to play Tyson's mother

I know "Tyson's Run" is based on a real boy, too. How was preparing for this different from preparing for something fictional like "Stargirl"? Did you base your character off of a real person?

I definitely did a good amount of research to get into how somebody on the spectrum thinks. The spectrum is very large, and people can be on all parts of it.


Specifically to the Tyson character, he's hyper-smart, and he's more socially awkward. I was able to talk to a mom who had a kid who had those similar characteristics and to understand the way he thinks. For example, if they're going out to dinner or going somewhere, to give them enough time, two hours maybe, to prep them to know what they're about to get into, rather than a fast, "Oh, we got to go now. We got to rush!"

There was so many little things that I've learned that really helped me understand the Tyson character. I wanted to portray it as honestly as possible, and the way that parents are with their kids and specifically him, because there is more of an adaptation to how to be, when you're communicating with somebody [whose] mind thinks differently. You have to figure that out.


Do you feel like this movie impacted you differently since you're also a parent?

Yes. I feel like now in general, being a parent and playing a parent, is so much more weighted and honest, because I get the "want to do anything for your child and protect your child, and you don't ever want to see your child hurt or upset or not feeling well." You go to so many different lengths to make sure your child feels okay in all aspects.

Definitely, the mama bears come out in me more so when I'm working, for sure.

No, for sure. Motherhood changes everything. I'm a mom, too, so I get it.

Oh, yeah. It changes everything for the best. It's this new level of filter we have in life and understanding. Also, it's so amazing being a parent, because when people say you get to relive your childhood again, in a way you do, but through this adult set of eyes that can comprehend what's going on, and at the same time, really appreciate the mindset of a child.

What Tyson's Run taught Amy Smart

I feel like "Tyson's Run" does go deeper than just inclusiveness. Your character deals with a lot of guilt throughout the film that adds tension in her marriage. Do you feel like you've ever played a character like this before?


Yes, I have. I've played this character a couple times. Maybe a few. It's that universal relationship, to be honest, where people get in marriages, and they start to grow apart, and they stop communicating, and things get fractured. If they're not really being dealt with, it gets worse and worse.

As far as this character, I feel like she has coasted and tried to be the best parent and wife. She's really put herself on the lowest part of the priority list. When she starts to see her son really go for something new, it creates this — and she herself is newly pregnant. It's all these new beginnings, and it awakens something in her that won't roll over and not say anything. She now has to fight for her kids.


Do you feel like once you wrapped up on this film, too, you had kind of a new perspective?

Yeah. Going back to being honest and communicating, in general, in relationships is king. You've got to make the effort, because it's so easy for things to get fractured, for relationships to not be working well, because of the lack of communication and honesty.

What I like about this film is that it gets messy, and that's life. A lot of times in films, you don't see that. You don't see the drama of that, the reality of the parts people don't want to talk about if they're embarrassed, because they feel a certain way about something. The more transparent people can be, even if they feel bad saying whatever they say or expressing whatever they want to say, it needs to come out.

I like that in this film, especially with Rory [Cochrane]'s character [Coach Hollerman], he really comes around. He's been in his one-track football coach mode for a long time, seeing that his son is really trying to reach out to him, and literally, his son keeps running away, because he is not getting what he wants, and then almost losing his life. These cathartic moments really are life-changing for people.

Amy Smart talks Stargirl and a potential Just Friends 2

Looking back at your acting career, is there a character you always get recognized for?

Mostly "Just Friends." I get "The Butterfly Effect."

[Yesterday], I actually — [Laughs] I was at a restaurant, and the guy who was our server recognized me, and he wanted to sing the "Jamie Smile" song to me from "Just Friends." It was so cute, and he did it. I'm like, "Go ahead. That's adorable."


It's really fun, to be honest, because that was so long ago, and yet the beauty about film and TV is that it keeps living on, and it keeps repeating and showing itself. Even making something before someone was born, and then they see, and it's so exciting, because they see it for the first time.

I've read some Internet rumors that a "Just Friends 2" might be happening with Ryan Reynolds. Would you ever be up for a sequel?

I would definitely be up for a sequel. I personally haven't heard it myself, but I think I would be in the sequel, so I hope that would happen someday. [Laughs]

I know you're working on Season 3 of "Stargirl." Is there anything you can tease about the new season to us?

You do find out at the end of Season 2, that it's called "Frenemies." That's the subtitle of the season, and that's the feeling of this new season. It feels a little bit like a whodunit, like "Clue."


I don't know how much I'm allowed to tease, but we're shooting the finale now. We're wrapping up Season 3, and it's a really amazing big finale. I'm excited for this new season to air.

What's next for Amy Smart?

Outside of acting, you and your husband Carter Oosterhouse also have a winery, and you have your own line of bedding. I want to know what you haven't tackled yet together that you would love to do. What's your dream project to work on together?


Gosh, we both met with — in being very passionate about the environment and about sustainable ways of being in everyday life. We both love the gardening aspect, building aspect, the furnishings aspect.

We started our SmartHouse Collections line because we both believe that with mattresses, you spend a third of your life sleeping on that, and they are full of toxins that you can't see, and they off-gas. That seems like a really simple way of creating a better, healthier home where you sleep. We did a lot of research in the mattress world to find out what's really in mattresses, and there's a lot of greenwashing going on. There's some truth to some of the green products for sure.

We got into that, and I think it's — I don't know. That's a really good question. I don't know what else we want to do together, other than be great partners in life and the parents, and have fun. [Laughs]


It's exciting that you get to be married to someone that you also get to work with and accomplish these career goals together, too. I think that would just be so fun.

Yeah, it is really fun. It's fun having both. It's fun having careers separately. It's really fun having this company together, because it's very personal. It's us in the company, and it's something that we stand by and want to keep creating in positive ways on the planet.

Amy Smart's newest film "Tyson's Run" is now playing in theaters.