The 16-year-old actor has been working for five years and has already held down several lead roles and shared sets with Bryan Cranston, Jonah Hill and Tim Meadows. He’s stood in audition rooms with James Franco and shaken hands with Diane Lane, and he already has the confidence and groundedness of a seasoned performer. He’ll step onto a massive, high-budget set like Iron Fist or American Horror Story, but he won’t let the production level get in his head.
“It’s cool, but it’s never intimidating, because if they hire you, there’s nothing to freak you out,” he says. “They’re already paying me. I just have to do my job.”
He’s not easily moved, except to laugh at a joke about how his preference for Marvel’s Netflix shows versus the movies shows his bias. (He plays Danny Rand’s younger self on Netflix’s Iron Fist.) He’s about to start watching Game of Thrones, in which his fellow Iron Fist actor Finn Jones also stars.
1. Toby has trained at local acting coach Debby Gaudet’s Young Screen Actor’s Studio. Peyton Wich (Troy of Stranger Things) also studies with Gaudet.
2. One of the most impressive actors he says he’s worked with was Bryan Cranston, who played Toby’s onscreen father in Trumbo. To prepare for the 1950s-set role, Cranston spent time between takes reading a Dalton Trumbo biography and ’50s newspapers.
3. Nichols played opposite Saturday Night Live alum Tim Meadows on his first leading role in the film Chasing Ghosts. The experience sharpened his improv skills and sparked a dream to write for SNL one day.
4. He improvised most of his scene in 22 Jump Street, in which Jonah Hill threw rocks at him near a lake. Most of what Toby and Hill came up with together was too vulgar to make the cut. (Toby was 11 at the time.)
5. Toby’s latest release, Desolation, hit Netflix Dec. 15. The horror flick was shot on location in the Adirondacks. The Dark, a thriller in which he plays a kidnapped and mutilated boy, required a month of shooting in the woods while blinded by prosthetics for 12 hours a day. It is currently in post-production and due later in 2018.
Click here to read about the rest of the People To Watch in 2018.
This article was originally published in theJanuary 2018 issue of 225 Magazine.