Kyle Gallner has been a working actor for two decades now. A child actor who got his big breaks on TV shows Veronica Mars and Smallville, Gallner has stayed busy working on a range of commercial films, television shows, and indie projects choosing unconventional roles that challenge his audience.
His latest film Dinner In America hit Sundance last month to rave reviews, and this month his new show Interrogation, a choose-your-own-adventure crime drama with Gallner as the lead, premiered on CBS All Access. Be sure to sign up for CBS’s free one-week trial to check it out.
9 The Finest Hours (2016) – 63%
Based on the true story, The Finest Hours is about the rescue of an oil tanker that split apart during a cyclone off the coast of New England. The disaster-thriller from Disney starred Chris Pine, Casey Affleck and Eric Bana. Critics surmised it as a traditional, old-fashioned rescue-drama, and the film was a box-office flop failing to compete with other summer-titles such as The Revenant and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Gallner had a supporting role as Andrew Fitzgerald, an engineman who joins the volunteer rescue crew alongside Pines and Bana.
8 Beautiful Boy (2011) – 70%
Not the 2018 film starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet, Beautiful Boy (2011) stars Michael Sheen and Maria Bello as a married couple whose teenage son commits a mass school-shooting/suicide. Their marriage is tested by the pressure cooker of media onslaught, community scrutiny, and the unanswered question of why their son would do something so evil.
Gallner played the aforementioned son, during a stage in his career where he tended to be cast as dark, violently troubled youths. Since then, he’s done well to not let himself be pigeonholed by these roles and has experimented with a range of genres.
7 American Sniper (2015) – 72%
Another film based on a true story, American Sniper is a biographical war-drama directed by Clint Eastwood. Bradley Cooper stars as Chris Kyle, a US Navy SEALs sniper who served four tours in Iraq and became the deadliest marksman in the US military. The film had multiple wins and nominations, including the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay.
Gallner played fellow SEAL Goat-Winston, a man with contrasting attitudes to wartime and empathy for “kills” compared to Cooper’s character.
6 Band of Robbers (2016) – 78%
A fun, hidden gem in Netflix’s catalog, Band of Robbers is a modern retelling of the classic Mark Twain novels about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Gallner stars as Huck Finn, now an adult who has just been released from jail, alongside Adam Nee (the film’s co-writer and co-director) as deadbeat cop Tom Sawyer.
Wrangling together a group of their childhood friends, the iconic-duo set out to find the elusive Murrell’s treasure – and along the way, make the change from crooks to heroes.
5 Red Eye (2005) – 75%
From legendary horror director Wes Craven, Red Eye may start out as a seemingly innocent romantic film about two attractive strangers who meet while on a red-eye flight to Miami. The charm and shy flirting is a ploy, lulling us into a false sense of security before the film takes a sudden turn towards claustrophobic thriller.
Rachel McAdams stars as Lisa Reisert, a hotel manager taken hostage by domestic terrorist Jack Rippner, played by Cillian Murphy in one of his first US roles. Gallner played one of the fellow passengers on board the plan, credited as “Headphone Kid’s Brother”, and would later go on to star in the remake of Craven’s classic A Nightmare on Elm St.
4 The Cleanse (2018) – 82%
This one is a unique – and for some, hard to swallow – blend of dark fantasy, comedy, philosophical soul searching, and horror. At times reminisce of Cronenberg, for its use of practical body-horror style effect. And at other times whimsical, like 80s fantasy-style ugly-cute creatures. The Cleanse follows a group of four strangers who embark on a strange spiritual retreat, with no real knowledge of what the retreat entails other than a chance to cleanse them from their inner demons.
Gallner plays Eric, a sarcastic and cynical alcoholic who has only agreed to go on the retreat to appease his strung-out girlfriend.
3 Smashed (2012) – 83%
Smashed received high praise from audiences and critics, as did Mary Elizabeth Winstead for her subtle and sincere portrayal of school teacher and secret alcoholic Kate. Opposite Winstead, Aaron Paul plays Charlie, Kate’s husband and other half to their dysfunctional, alcohol and substance abuse fueled relationship.
Gallner plays Owen, Charlie’s younger brother and party mate for their nights out at the bars and dingey garage parties. When Owen accidentally let’s slip his brother shared with him Kate has recently tried meth, it puts her on the trajectory for getting sober – even if it puts her marriage in jeopardy.
2 Dear White People (2014) – 91%
Another film that isn’t for everyone, Dear White People (and it’s spin-off Netflix series) has received just as much high praise from critics and audiences as it has backlash and criticism. Gallner reunited with fellow Veronica Mars alum Tessa Thompson.
Thompson played Sam White, an outspoken student whose radio show Dear White People causes controversy at her prestigious university. Her radio show drew criticism to the university’s culture surrounding white privilege, racial diversity, and racist transgressions, and heightened the tense divide between white and black students on campus.
Gallner played Kurt, the son of the school’s president, a cocky fratboy who has his club turn up to a campus party in blackface.
1 Dinner In America (2020) – 100%
A hit at Sundance earlier this year, Dinner In America is the punk-rock romantic comedy we didn’t know we needed until now. Gallner gives a knockout lead performance as Simon, an agro punk rocker wanted by the police. Alongside Gallner is the incredibly cute Emily Skeggs as Patty, an odd young woman obsessed with Simon’s band Psyops – or rather, his masked persona Johnny Q.
When Simon and Patty cross paths, and she blackmails him to take her to meet the infamous Johnny Q, they embark on a wild journey across Midwestern America and unexpectedly fall in love. Surely to become a cult classic the likes of Napolean Dynamite, be sure to look out for a wide release.
NEXT: 10 Must-See Movies That Played At Sundance 2020