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photo by Matthew J. Lloyd
Hays Wellford (left) and James Freedson-Jackson in "Cop Car." (Photo by Matthew J. Lloyd, courtesy of Sundance Institute)
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photo by Chris Buongiorno, courtesy of Sundance Institute
Kevin Bacon in "Cop Car"
A young Richmond-area actor has a big role in a film that created a buzz at the recent 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
Hays Wellford, 11, plays one of two 10-year-old boys who find what appears to be an abandoned police car and decide to take it for a ride in the Jon Watts film Cop Car. Trouble ensues when it turns out that the car is, in fact, not abandoned, but belongs to the corrupt sheriff played by Bacon, who then begins a chase to retrieve the stolen vehicle.
Considered a coming-of-age movie, Cop Car already has received multiple positive reviews and has been picked up by Focus World (the alternative distribution arm of Focus Features) for theatrical and video-on-demand (VOD) release, according to reports in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Nylon.com and TheWrap.com even mention Hays, whose character is named Harrison, and his young companion, James Freedson-Jackson, in a list of top breakout stars from Sundance.
An honor student at Robious Middle School in Chesterfield County, Hays has appeared in multiple short films and is featured in the upcoming independent movie, Before the Snow. Written and directed by Mark Clauburg and Peter Lisowsky, the film follows a man who is diagnosed with a terminal disease as he struggles to come to terms with his past through dreams and hallucinations triggered by his disease in combination with medication.
Cop Car was shot in Colorado, and in an interview at Sundance with the online web series Click on This, the two young actors commented that they were wearing winter clothes in a hot car in 90-degree weather. (Hays’ family tells Richmond magazine that he is not able to do additional interviews about the film at this time.) In another Sundance interview, Hays told The Hollywood Reporter that he and James learned “many different techniques from an older and wiser age of actors,” referring to their co-stars, including Camryn Manheim as a traveler who crosses paths with the boys. In the interview, Bacon notes that his young co-stars “definitely brought some energy,” but adds that he tried not to think of them as younger. “We have to be in the scenes together, we have to be listening to each other and talking to each other in the same way that we would if we were exactly the same age.”