Lewis Pullman's new movie The Starling Girl is playing in select theaters now
Lewis Pullman soared the skies alongside Tom Cruise and Miles Teller in Top Gun: Maverick, but the 30-year-old actor and son of Hollywood star Bill Pullman keeps it grounded in his new indie drama The Starling Girl, co-starring Eliza Scanlen (Little Women).
"It's definitely a different character than I've played before," he tells PEOPLE of his role as a youth pastor within a fundamentalist Christian community in Kentucky. "I just started with trying to define what my purpose was in this story. It's the same with anything. As big as Top Gun was, it's the same kind of approach — just, 'Where do I fit into the Tetris of it all and how can I best elevate this story?' "
The Los Angeles native's famous father Bill, 69, has an extensive list of Hollywood credits that include blockbusters like Independence Day and comedies like Spaceballs. Lewis says his dad and his mother, dancer Tamara Hurwitz, never put any pressure on him to follow Bill's footsteps into acting.
"We're a real creative family," he says, noting that he and older siblings, Jack and Mesa, are "all performers in some realm."
"Once I decided that's what I wanted to do, my dad was never like, 'You've got to do it,' or 'You shouldn't do this,' " he says of making the decision to pursue acting. "He was just like 'Give it a shot. Whatever kaleidoscope you want to look at life through, if it feels good, do it.' "
Lewis admits that he was initially reluctant to seek his father's help navigating a career in acting, noting he was at first "ignorant in being like, 'I need to do it my own way.' "
"I quite quickly realized it was incredibly foolish not to utilize this remarkable resource that I had who happened to be my dad," he tells PEOPLE, adding that Bill's advice "is pretty invaluable because he knows me so well as a person."
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"He knows what gets me excited, what makes me nervous, what scares me," Lewis says. "And then he also has so much experience in the business and with the craft. So all of his advice is catered towards me. I don't know where I'd be at without it."
Lewis' new movie follows a teenager named Jem (Scanlen) who "struggles to define her place within" her religious community as she finds her everyday hobbies "caught between a burgeoning awareness of her own sexuality and her religious devotion," per an official synopsis for the movie.
When youth pastor Owen (Lewis) returns to Jem's community, he "draws her into a dangerous relationship that could upend their entire community," the synopsis reads.
In addition to Lewis and Scanlen, the debut feature film from filmmaker Laurel Parmet also stars Jimmi Simpson, Wrenn Schmidt, Claire Elizabeth Green and Ellie May.
The Starling Girl is playing in select theaters now.
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Read the original article on People.