Opening in theaters on March 29th is the new thriller ‘Asphalt City,’ which was directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire (‘A Prayer Before Dawn’) and stars Oscar-winner Sean Penn (‘State of Grace’), Tye Sheridan (‘Ready Player One’), Michael Pitt (‘Last Days’), Katherine Waterson (‘Inherent Vice’), Kali Reis (‘True Detective: Night Country’) and Mike Tyson (‘The Hangover’).

Related Article: Movie Review: 'Ambulance'

Tye Sheridan talks 'Asphalt City.'

Tye Sheridan talks 'Asphalt City.'

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with producer and actor Tye Sheridan about his work on ‘Asphalt City,’ his first reaction to the screenplay, why he wanted to make the movie, his character, working with Sean Penn, and training to play a paramedic.

You can read the full interview below or click on the video player above to watch our interviews with Sheridan, Kali Reis, and director Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire.

Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan in 'Asphalt City.'

(L to R) Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan in 'Asphalt City.' Photo: Vertical Entertainment.

Moviefone: To begin with, can you talk about your first reaction to the screenplay and as an actor and producer, why did you want to make this movie?

Tye Sheridan: That's a good question. The project's been around for a long time. It first came to me in 2018. So, we were trying to get this movie made for many years. It was a labor of love, but it was something we all felt super passionate about. I think the single element that got us most excited was really trying to convey the lives of medics, how important they are to society, the burden that they carry, and how that burden affects them personally. We all thought that it was an exciting story to try to pursue and to keep pushing. We all really believed in the film. That's why we spent many years trying to get it made. But the film is based on a novel by Shannon Burke, and it's originally set in the '90s in Harlem. So, our version of the movie is a much more contemporary telling of the story. It takes place in East New York. So, the screenplay went through an evolution, if you will, over the years. A lot of that evolution came from the stories that we would hear from the medic community, from the EMS community, talking to different medics, and having them share stories from their lives. A lot of that ended up bleeding into the film, and we started to shape the film around some of the stories that we would hear. So, that's how it evolved over the years.

Tye Sheridan in 'Asphalt City.'

Tye Sheridan in 'Asphalt City.' Photo: Vertical Entertainment.

MF: It is stated in the movie that being a paramedic can be a very thankless job. Can you talk about the emotional stress the occupation puts on Ollie and how he eventually becomes numb to it?

TS: I think when he first starts, he's the new kid on the block, so to speak. He's a rookie medic. He's somebody who envisions a career in the medical field and is trying to get into med school and wants to be a paramedic to get a lot of real-world experience. He does get that very quickly. I think he goes from this guy who just wants to save everyone to really understanding, "Oh, it's much more complex than that. Some people don't appreciate what you do and are some people worth saving?" I think that's what the movie kind of provokes, not so much through my character, but some of the other characters in the film that are facing these kinds of moral dilemmas. But ultimately, it just goes to show how much of a burden they carry. These people they carry a lot of responsibility. They're the person you call in your worst moments. Right? So that's the person that's going to show up and potentially try to save your mother's life, or your father's life, or your own life. These people need to be supported. They deal with a lot mentally, and we need to make sure that they have the right resources and support from the community. So, I think, if anything, I hope the film conveys that to the world and to the public, and really shows them a closer look at what their lives may be like and some of the burdens that they may be carrying.

Tye Sheridan in 'Asphalt City.'

Tye Sheridan in 'Asphalt City.' Photo: Vertical Entertainment.

MF: Can you talk about the paramedic training you went through for this film?

TS: It's very technical. There are scenes that play out. The opening scene is like a 10-minute-long sequence, and we're in the back of an ambulance, and we've got to set an IV and do CPR and get a BVM over the patient. All these different things, and you're coordinating with each other, so it's a collaborative process. We spent two months doing ride-alongs leading up to the film, so we would go out three or four times a week doing 12-hour long ride-alongs and usually the night shift. Then, we would spend five or six hours during the day in a classroom environment, learning how to work together, learning how to give people CPR and learning how to intubate, learning how to give IVs, and going through all the procedures that we were going to be experiencing in the film.

Tye Sheridan and Sean Penn in 'Asphalt City.'

(L to R) Tye Sheridan and Sean Penn in 'Asphalt City.' Photo: Vertical Entertainment.

MF: Finally, can you talk about working with Sean Penn and having an opportunity to learn from his acting process?

TS: Yeah, it was great. We had a great time working together. It was very intense. It was a very challenging film to make and very challenging roles for us playing medics. Sean took it very seriously and is an intense guy in a great way. He brings a certain level of professionalism and a respect for these people and what they do. I think it was nice for us to have that in common, to really lean on each other, and for that camaraderie to be such a big part of the film. So, I was happy to have a serious partner.

Asphalt City

"Welcome to the frontlines."
R2 hrMar 29th, 2024
Showtimes & Tickets

A young paramedic is paired with a seasoned partner on the night shift in New York revealing a city in crisis. Discovering the chaos firsthand, he is tested with... Read the Plot

What is the Plot of ‘Asphalt City’?

‘Asphalt City’ follows Ollie Cross (Tye Sheridan), a young paramedic assigned to the NYC night shift with an uncompromising and seasoned partner Gene Rutkovsky (Sean Penn). The dark nights reveal a city in crisis; Rutkovsky guides Cross, as each 911 call is often dangerous and uncertain, putting their lives on the line every day to help others. Cross soon discovers firsthand the chaos and awe of a job that careens from harrowing to heartfelt, testing his relationship with Rutkovsky and the ethical ambiguity that can be the difference between life and death.

Who is in the cast of ‘Asphalt City’?

  • Tye Sheridan as Ollie Cross
  • Sean Penn as Gene Rutkovsky
  • Kali Reis as Nia
  • Michael Pitt as Lafontaine
  • Katherine Waterston as Nancy
  • Mike Tyson as Chief Burroughs

Tye Sheridan and Sean Penn in 'Asphalt City.'

(L to R) Tye Sheridan and Sean Penn in 'Asphalt City.' Photo: Vertical Entertainment.

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