Atlanta actor Tye Olson gets his feet wet with ‘Watercolors,’ ‘Tara’ TV roles

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In an attempt to learn more about the woman playing the pivotal role of the art teacher in his feature film debut, “Watercolors” actor Tye Olson concedes to doing what most 18-year-olds do these days.

He Googled Karen Black.

After all, the majority of the 70-year-old’s best-known roles in “Airport ’75,” “Five Easy Pieces” and “Nashville” hit the Googleplex long before Olson was even born.

“I began watching her scenes on Youtube and I was mesmerized,” Olson tells Intel.

“We had such a great time working together. She was a real mentor to me.”

As part of the city’s ongoing gay and lesbian-themed Out on Film series, “Watercolors” will have its Atlanta premiere tonight at 7 at the Ansley Park Playhouse in Midtown.

Olson, now 22 and an Atlanta resident and “Watercolors” director and writer David Oliveras will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A.

The festival-lauded film co-starring Kyle Clare chronicles the unlikely high school romance between Danny, a gifted artist and a substance abusing swim team jock.

The two students face homophobic team mates, alcoholic parents and the threat of epileptic seizures while wrestling with their mutual attraction.

Given the film’s content and the emotional weight of the gay bashing at the center of “Watercolors,” Olson’s agent advised him to pass on the part.

“But I knew that I had to play Danny,” Olson recalls. “Danny really helped me. I needed to learn from his confidence. I wasn’t comfortable with myself. I wasn’t ready to be gay in public yet. Danny was open and proud about his sexuality.”

Olson also credits Oliveras and Clare for helping him tackle Danny’s complicated and often messy emotional core.

“Kyle and I became really close friends,” Olson says. “I can see a lot of that bond in our scenes together in the film.”

Given the graphic and technically complex nature of their love scene together in “Watercolors,” Olson says Clare’s complete commitment to the project impressed him.

“Recalls Olson laughing: I mean, here’s a straight guy with a girlfriend playing a gay character and we’re naked together for hours wearing just pasties and trying not to freeze to death in this cold rain water with 40 people watching us. He taught me a lot about acting. It was a bit like filming a ballet.”

Next up for Olson?

A multiple episode guest shot on season two of the Emmy-winning Showtime hit, “The United States of Tara” from executive producer Steven Spielberg and Oscar-winning “Juno” writer Diablo Cody.

“To have those names floating around you on the set is just amazing,” Olson says. “Plus, I was such a fan of the show before I was cast on it. Toni Collette is just an amazing actress.”

He plays a not-so-nice classmate of Collette’s conflicted TV son Marshall on the series.

And Olson says “Tara” fans should buckle up.

“This season, the first season’s subtleties give way to a lot of interesting areas,” he previews. “Marshall’s life is really put out there. It will shock you. I think there will be a lot of firsts for television. They’re really stepping it up. It was exciting to be a part of that.”

For more info, go to Out on Film’s official website.

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