Texan screenwriter and director Taylor Sheridan is having an awesome week.
The Paschal High School grad who wrote the West Texas-set Hell or High Water starring Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges snagged an Academy Award nomination Tuesday for best original screenplay. The film is also up for best picture, supporting actor (Jeff Bridges), and film editing.
On top of that, his upcoming film -- Wind River, his directing debut and the third film in his trilogy about life in the western U.S. -- has sparked positive buzz at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The Verge called the Wyoming-set thriller, starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, a “thrilling, violent finale to the ‘Hell or High Water’ and ‘Sicario’ trilogy” while Collider says Sheridan “crafts a captivating drama that’s thoughtful, somber and gripping.”
Variety was slightly less positive, saying his “filmmaking is spiky and alive” but that the script is “less layered than the ones that brought him to this moment.”
Still, not bad for a former actor who grew up far from Hollywood on a ranch near Cranfills Gap and who not long ago was best-known as deputy chief David Hale on two seasons of the TV series Sons of Anarchy.
It was during his time at Paschal that he became interested in acting. As he told the Star-Telegram last year after the release of Hell or High Water, “I kind of stumbled into drama there and had a vague interest in it. In the 1980s, California and Hollywood seemed like a life away; people didn’t do that. And so when a [talent] scout did find me [in Austin], I didn’t believe anything was going to come of it. It just seemed like a free trip to a far-away town to be perfectly honest.”
That led to commercial work in Chicago and then to TV work in Hollywood. These days, he calls Wyoming home though he has considered moving back to Texas. As he said last year, “You know I probably already would have moved back except my wife is from up here and her family is here. I always figured I’d be back. I’m kind of surprised I’m not. Wyoming is kind of like Texas but with snow and longer winters.”