Kodi Smit-McPhee, who plays Peter, the gawky, effeminate son of Kirsten Dunst‘s Rose Gordon in Jane Campion‘s The Power of the Dog is up for the Best Supporting Actor prize a this year’s Academy Awards. Although Kodi has appeared in several films before his Oscar-nominated turn, fans may not know too much about the actor and how he got to where he is.
Below we break down five things to know about the 25-year-old who’s been in the entertainment industry most of his life.
He hails from Australia
Kodi Smit-McPhee was born June 13, 1996 in Adelaide, South Australia. He is the son of Andy McPhee, an actor and former professional wrestler, and Sonja Smit. His older sister, Sianoa Smit-McPhee, is also an actress and singer.
“My dad has always been my coach and my mentor,” Kodi told The Guardian in a 2021 interview around the release of The Power of the Dog. “We are so close. But he’s 6ft 6in, he’s got a goatee, he has ridden with outlaw motorcycle clubs most of his life. As I started to approach adolescence, I wondered when I was going to bloom into this masculine thing. Do I have to go to the gym? Do I have to speak a different way? One day there was a bit of a breakthrough and I realized I don’t have to be any of that. I’m an ectomorph. I’m interested in philosophy. I’m an artist, and that’s beautiful.”
His career began to take off in 2007
Kodi’s first feature film was the 2007 Australian drama Romulus, My Father, for which he received the AFI Best Young Actor award. That win gained him recognition, as he went on to star in 2010’s vampire thriller Let Me In and subsequently veered into action films like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Dark Phoenix, and X-Men: Apocalypse.
Kodi really made a breakthrough, however, with 2009’s apocalyptic drama The Road, based on Cormac McCarthy‘s novel. Kodi co-starred alongside one of his acting idols, Viggo Mortensen, and the actor heaped his praises on the then-12-year-old boy. “Kodi is amazing in the movie, he’s an extraordinary individual,” he told the Independent upon the film’s release. “I think that’s a measure not just of his talent, but his humanity. He was able to be joyful every day at work, like a kid. I was worried when I got cast because this boy in the story breaks your heart, so I thought how are they going to find that boy? And luckily we did.”
He continued, “It wouldn’t work if I didn’t have a partner like Kodi who could pull certain things out of me and then I could return it. That simplicity, that relationship that was forged through hardship and also through having a good time, frankly. And you feel that on the screen.”
He was diagnosed with Ankylosing spondylitis at age 16
At age 16, Kodi was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative form of arthritis which causes vertebrae in the spine to fuse together, leading to chronic pain and loss of vision. As a result of this condition, Kodi is unfortunately blind in his left eye. Speaking with GQ in 2021, the actor shared that doctors predicted the illness would get worse for him when he turned 20. Unfortunately, it did, as he often became bedridden due to the pain.
“It really hurt and shocked me to find that while I was on this amazing run of success and joy, I was hit with something that was seemingly the end of that,” he told the outlet. “My life and my career have always been kind of like, ‘You’re almost there, you’re almost there.’ I thought, I’m screwed. I’m not going to actually get there.”
He was able, however, to not only move through the physical pain from the disease, but was helped with the mental anguish because of it with the help of his girlfriend, Rebecca Phillipou, praising her with “mentally giving me the power to see why it was worth striving forward, and to not stay in apathy.”
He’s already garnered numerous accolades
Kodi may be up for the big prize at this year’s Oscars, but it isn’t the first time the young actor has received some serious critical attention. After his first feature film role in Romulus, My Father, Kodi won the 2007 AFI Award for Best Young Actor. Subsequently, he received a Critic’s Choice Award nomination for Best Young Actor in 2009’s The Road as well as 2010’s Let Me In.
Kodi has also received BAFTA, Australian Film Institute, and SAG nominations for his acting roles, garnering a plethora of nominations and wins from various local film festivals and critic circuits. Moreover, the Australian native won the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role at the 2022 Golden Globes, so he’s primed to be a major contestant for the subsequent Oscars!
He has various interests outside of acting
In addition to his acting career, Kodi has expressed intrigue with other subjects, like customizing cars and motorbikes, making music, and playing video games. Moreover, he’s also developed an interest in Eastern, Western, and esoteric philosophy, tattooing “777” on his hand due to it being an “angelic” number.
“It represents God for many but for me it was to mark a point of transition in my life,” he told The Guardian in a Nov. 2021 interview. “I can’t say what because it’s so personal to me but I think everyone can relate to it. You get to that point in your life where you realize you’ve become stagnant. You just need to grow and change, and then you cut off certain people.”