When Blake Sheldon got his first role on a cable television show, he was too overwhelmed to tell all of his friends.

When Blake Sheldon got his first role on a cable television show, he was too overwhelmed to tell all of his friends.

Sheldon, an Olentangy High School graduate, said he told only his family and a few acquaintances when he appeared as Cooper, a teenage psychopath, in FX's American Horror Story in 2012. Now 22, the actor, who was working in a sandwich shop at the time, said he was a little nervous due to the pace of production on a TV show.

"When you have 24 hours to prepare for a role that's going to broadcast on (millions of) televisions internationally, it kind of freaks you out," he said.

Sheldon has no such qualms about his first starring film role. The former Lewis Center resident hopes to see a large group of family and friends at a screening of The Age of Reason at 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, at the Gateway Film Center in Columbus.

In the independent coming-of-age tale, Sheldon plays one of two recent high school graduates trying to decide what to do with their lives.

In real life, Sheldon had no trouble figuring out his post-graduation path. He said he fell in love with performing after scheduling a theater class for what he thought would be an "easy arts credit" in high school.

Sheldon credits Olentangy High School teacher Sarah Zettler with inspiring his love of acting. He said she added contemporary touches to plays such as The Crucible and Romeo and Juliet that made them appealing to youthful casts and audiences.

"She had taste and something to say about the work that she put on stage," Sheldon said.

After high school, Sheldon said he had a choice of going to art school, community college or taking sporadic classes while working in California. He eventually decided on the latter.

"The art schools were a lot of money," he said. "You were paying a lot to live in New York or L.A."

After moving to Los Angeles, Sheldon said he was not picky when it came to acting work. He said whether it was an independent film, a television series or even a student film, he looked at the work as a chance to get better.

"The more work that you do, it's just making you better in the long run," he said.

He said he would advise young actors to "start grasping at anything and everything that comes your way," viewing each opportunity as a chance to improve.

On two of Sheldon's most-recent projects, two industry veterans gave him advice on how to improve his craft.

Sheldon said he learned a lot about acting while working with Tom Sizemore on The Age of Reason. Sheldon said Sizemore's preparation techniques, including dunking his head in a bucket of ice water before scenes, were unconventional but reportedly helped him deliver great performances in front of the camera.

Sheldon said Sizemore -- best known for his roles in Saving Private Ryan and Natural Born Killers -- was a bit unpredictable, but a "great human being" whom he hoped to work with again.

Sheldon said he also was thrilled to play a bit role in Gone Girl, director David Fincher's film adaptation of the best-selling novel. The movie, which stars Ben Affleck, will be released in October.

Sheldon said Fincher, the director of Fight Club, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network, was exacting and knew just what he wanted, even from actors playing smaller roles.

"He's one of those directors that just keeps pumping out new and exciting stuff," Sheldon said.

As Sheldon continues to grow as an actor, he said he's happy to return to the place where his love of acting took root. He said the Gateway Film Center screening will give him a chance to contemplate how far he's come in the four years since he graduated high school.

"It's really surreal to think about," he said. "I remember being 13 and going with my family there to watch a picture show."