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Why Peter From Power Of The Dog Looks So Familiar

The name Benedict Cumberbatch may draw people to watch Netflix's 1920s Montana drama "The Power of the Dog," or perhaps the director, Jane Campion, known for writing and directing "The Piano," but once they watch the film, the conversation is really all about Peter. The character is the son of Kirsten Dunst's Rose Gordon, and he stands out amidst the ranch community for his departure from traditional masculine stereotypes.

The young actor playing him, Kodi Smit-McPhee, delivers a "scene-stealing performance," according to the New York Times, and he has everyone wondering if he'll win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, but he's far from a household name. Neither is he one most people would recognize on the street. In fact, Smit-McPhee told GQ, "I literally don't get recognized." While that's certainly about to change, he's been acting long enough that audiences are bound to have seen him in something.

He's grown up a lot since his first role, so here's a refresher on why Smit-McPhee, a.k.a. Peter, looks so familiar.

Kodi Smit-McPhee's first Hollywood movie was The Road

Kodi Smit-McPhee has been acting from a young age, carving out a space for himself as a child actor capable of doing drama that leans into darker themes. His performance in the 2007 Australian drama "Romulus, My Father" is what garnered him enough attention to start getting Hollywood roles, beginning with 2009's "The Road." Director John Hillcoat told Collider they were originally looking for American actors for the young role of "Boy" because of concern about a child being able to do the accent, but Smit-McPhee quickly picked up an American accent without needing a dialogue coach.

He and Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn in "Lord of the Rings") play a father and son trying to survive in a desolate post-apocalyptic world. Critics praised Smit-McPhee's acting, with Roger Ebert writing that the characters couldn't be played better. "Kodi Smit-McPhee is convincing as a child stunned by destruction," he wrote. However, it wasn't all gloom and doom on set: In between takes, Hillcoat said that Mortensen taught Smit-McPhee sword fighting moves he'd learned from working on "Lord of the Rings."

"The Road" kicked off a series of loner, "weird kid" type roles for Smit-McPhee that have endured to his most recent part in "The Power of the Dog." In an interview with Document, he said about playing these kinds of characters: "I like it, because they're usually quiet, with a lot going on inside. So the acting is not all in the talking. It's more subtle."

Smit-McPhee got a vampire girlfriend in Let Me In

In 2010, Kodi Smit-McPhee starred in "Let Me In," the English-language remake of the Swedish vampire film "Let The Right One In," based on the book by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It's a mix of both horror and romance, centering on the viciously bullied boy Owen (Smit-McPhee), who meets the child vampire Abby, played by Chloë Grace Moretz.

Director Matt Reeves, when talking about casting the film with Den of Geek, remarked that he appreciated Smit-McPhee's authentic non-verbal acting in "Romulus, My Father," and thus cast him in "Let Me In." It was a good choice, evidently, as both leads' acting was praised by critics. Overall, "Let Me In" succeeded in the difficult task of being a good enough remake in comparison to its predecessor to justify its existence. 

In fact, "Let Me In" did better than good enough, as The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Key to the remake's ultimate success is the casting of the troubled young leads. Smit-McPhee and Moretz possess the soulful depth and pre-adolescent vulnerability necessary to keep it compellingly real." Or, as Smit-McPhee told Document, he's been pegged as the young actor capable of doing "the sad and deep stuff."

Smit-McPhee bonded with apes in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Many people probably heard Kodi Smit-McPhee as the lead voice of 2012's animated film "ParaNorman," but it wasn't until 2014 that he truly got put in front of a wider audience with his first big studio film, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes." It's the sequel to "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," the first of a series rebooting the "Planet of the Apes" films originally from the '60s and '70s. For Smit-McPhee, it was a reunion with "Let Me In" director Matt Reeves, who's also writing and directing the upcoming "The Batman."

While "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" details the origin of a virus that kills humans and increases ape intelligence, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" jumps ahead several years to when human society has mostly collapsed from said virus. Several of the ape characters return, but the human cast changes and we meet a new group of humans, including Jason Clarke's Malcolm, who have tense relations with the hyper-intelligent ape community run by Andy Serkis' chimpanzee Caesar. Smit-McPhee plays Malcolm's son, Alexander, who spends time with the apes, bonding with them, and even tries teaching Maurice the orangutan (Karin Konoval) to read.

He's Nightcrawler in the X-Men film series

Kodi Smit-McPhee is perhaps less likely to be recognized for his role in the X-Men franchise, as his features are totally transformed into the blue-skinned, teleporting mutant Nightcrawler, a.k.a. Kurt Wagner. Smit-McPhee's version of the character is first introduced in 2016's "X-Men: Apocalypse," cage fighting against another mutant, when Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) recruits him to the X-Men. Together, they have to save the world from the ancient mutant named Apocalypse, and Nightcrawler lends his powers to the effort. Smit-McPhee reprises the role in 2019's "X-Men: Dark Phoenix" and has a small cameo in "Deadpool 2."

Disney, and subsequently the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has acquired the rights to make further "X-Men" movies. It's currently unclear where they'll go from here, but Smit-McPhee has expressed interest in playing Nightcrawler again. He told GQ, "All these movies that they're coming out with recently are to do with dimensions that are opening up, and portals and stuff like that, that Dr. Strange is doing." With actors from pre-MCU "Spider-Man" movies — like Alfred Molina's Doc Ock — coming into the MCU, there's certainly the possibility for the same with the "X-Men" actors.

"Hopefully, they can utilize that opportunity to reinvent Nightcrawler and reintroduce him to their cinematic universe," he said. "I think there was so much more to explore with him, and I think they might do it in a more comic-book accurate way, that I would love to be a part of that." If Smit-McPhee does win the Oscar for "The Power of the Dog," you can bet Marvel will try and snap him back up.