In this year’s US release of feature film Tyson’s Run, Major Dodson plays Tyson Hollerman, with the film being about a neurodivergent teenager, and he reunited with his fellow cast members for their premiere in Atlanta. Also this year, Major played Seymour in another feature film – Ghost Party – which was his first project he filmed during COVID, and in 2020, he voiced Cloud Strife (Age 14) in the Final Fantasy VII Remake video game. Other projects for Major have included joining the cast of The Walking Dead in Series 5, playing Sam Anderson, until leaving in 2016, playing Corey Bachman in American Horror Story for his first recurring role, and he filmed as Raymie Steele for Left Behind. Chatting with us, Major talks about playing Tyson Hollerman in Tyson’s Run, filming as Seymour in Ghost Party and his time as Sam Anderson in The Walking Dead.
You play Tyson Hollerman in the new feature film Tyson’s Run, can you tell us about the film and was there anything that drew you to the script?
Tyson’s Run is a film about a neurodivergent teenager being let into the world and coming into his own to pursue his dreams. I was drawn to the script because it seemed like a wholesome movie and an interesting role to play.
How would you describe Tyson and what was he like to play?
Tyson is very passionate and determined to do what he desires. As for playing him, there was definitely a lot of work put in to make sure my portrayal of Tyson was respectful and not a caricature.
As an actor with Autism playing a character who is also Autistic, how is it raising awareness through the film and playing Tyson?
It’s been great to meet people and learn more about awareness and acceptance for neurodivergent individuals. For example, through Tyson’s Run I eventually became affiliated with an organisation called Kulture City that does amazing work for neurodivergent people and those with sensory needs.
What was it like working with the rest of the cast and crew and reuniting with them for the recent premiere?
There was a very friendly atmosphere on set and I made a good few friends. Getting to see everyone again in Atlanta for the premiere was a great experience and it was fun to reunite with everybody and talk about the movie.
How does it feel now Tyson’s Run has been released and how was it watching the completed film for the first time?
It was cathartic for sure, not to mention a trip down memory lane – it was cool to see the different scenes and look back on what they were like to film. There’s really no way to know how a film will turn out while you’re on set, so getting to see the final product tied things together.
What are some of your favourite memories from being on set and filming as the character?
I remember during a slightly slow day of production (which happens on sets more than most people probably know), me and Barkhad Abdi went to Starbucks and got some coffee to drink while we waited. He’s a very nice guy and was great to work with.
How was it playing Seymour in Ghost Party and can you tell us about this project?
Ghost Party was a particularly interesting experience for me as it was my first project filmed during COVID, specifically in 2021. As a result, we had to be extra considerate and careful on set, but ultimately everything turned out well and everybody had a great time.
What did you enjoy most about working on Ghost Party and playing Seymour?
I always enjoy an opportunity to play a new character and spend time with fellow actors and crew during production. Ghost Party had a relaxed, enjoyable environment to be in and everyone worked together very well.
In 2020, you voiced the role of Cloud Strife (Age 14) in Final Fantasy VII Remake, what was the video game like to be part of?
It was a wholly new experience for me – I was dubbing the original Japanese voice actor’s performance, so I had to try and match the inflection, tone, and timing. The only experience I’d had before that which was similar was ADR work for The Walking Dead and Tyson’s Run.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from playing Sam Anderson in The Walking Dead that you can tell us about?
I remember one time I was walking around on set when I was randomly ushered to see the male cast members with facial hair participating in a mass shaving ceremony – there were troths of water, shaving cream, and mirrors, and everyone was cheering. That’s just one highlight of many – everyone kept the atmosphere light and jovial despite the often heavy material.
How did you find the experience joining the cast in Series 5 and what was it like on set of the show?
Even as a young newcomer, I was pretty much instantly welcomed into the “family” everyone had built up over the years of working on the show. Around that time, I was obsessed with vintage cameras, so whenever a new round of filming started and I had to travel to Atlanta, I would bring a new Polaroid camera with me and take pictures with everyone.
How was it filming for American Horror Story as Corey Bachman and do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role?
AHS had a very surreal vibe for the most part, mostly due to the sets and overall plot. It was also a period piece set in the 1950s, which definitely added to that strange feeling. As for finding out I’d booked the role, I was ecstatic and excited to work. Just about any booking is a big deal and a payoff when you’ve been auditioning almost constantly as I was around that time.
You played Raymie Steele in the 2014 feature film Left Behind alongside a cast including Nicolas Cage and Lea Thompson, what was it like being in the cast and what was the film like to work on?
I was first starting to really gain some traction around that time, so just about everything was a new experience for me and Left Behind certainly fit the “core acting memory” bill. Getting to work with Lea Thompson was fun and the action scenes I was present for were quite fun to watch.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
I started when I was about six years old. Our local theatre back where I lived in Texas was doing a performance of A Christmas Carol, and the auditions promised everyone a part if they could sing a song. I was precocious to a fault at that time, so for my audition I told the casting director I would sing only one word of Thank You For the Music by ABBA. I ended up singing a little more than just one word, but I got the part of Tiny Tim and that’s essentially where it all started.
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from acting?
I’ve recently been rewatching Better Call Saul in preparation for Season 6, which I’m very excited to dig into. As for movies, two I watched recently that I really enjoyed were The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Office Space.
Do you have any upcoming plans you can tell us about and what are you hoping the rest of 2022 brings for your career?
I hope to keep working on music and eventually release something. I just have to stay focused and try not to psych myself out. In the acting realm, I’m looking forward to the next big thing and I’m going to keep persevering to see what I can do.
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