Interview: Nick Robinson “Kings of Summer”

Isabella Bejar

In anticipation of the release of Kings of Summer The Pretentious Film Majors got the opportunity to talk to one of the stars, Nick Robinson. The film centers on Robinson’s character Joe as he and two of his friends escape their unsatisfying home-lives for a summer by building a house in the nearby forest. There was a refreshing take on the coming-of-age tale that mixed humor with very down-to-earth situations. Alongside stars such as Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) and Community’s Alison Brie we wanted to find out a little more about his experiences on set as well as what it was like having his first lead in a feature film.

How did you first get involved with Kings of Summer?

Nick Robinson: It was during their audition process, for me, I was sent the script I took a look at it, I read it and fell in love with it. It  had such a unique voice, it was very fresh full set of abilities. It was written by Chris Galletta and it was his first screenplay actually and he’s a genius,  I was laughing my ass off it was so funny, the script. And it had more grounded moments and more deeper themes that wove through it. Also the characters were very well crafted even if they did go to some farcical places, it still stayed real. It was a great script. So, I went in, met Jordan [Vogt-Roberts], I auditioned- didn’t hear anything for a long time and then I got a call to come back in and do some  camera shooting. About a week later I got a call saying “Alright, we’ll see you in Ohio!”

You have a lot of history working on TV, what was it like having the lead in a feature film?

NR: It was very very cool. It was intimidating at first with everyone looking at me, but once i got on set all those nerves went away. It was a very new experience. I’d done single camera work before and so it wasn’t completely but yeah being in a feature you have a lot more freedom and you’re kind of left to your own devices and it was a lot of fun. Jordan our director, Chris our writer and Ross [Reige] our director of photography they were all sharing the same brain, and had a great vision the whole time. Any nervousness I had just went away.

How much of yourself did you find in your character, Joe? What sort of personal experience did you bring to the role?

NR: Quite a lot of myself. I think that Joe is pretty much a version of myself. I mean he’s kind of an every-man, you know? I grew up camping a lot, I grew up playing outdoors in the woods and I also grew up with a very active imagination so those things combined sort of form the core of Joe in the film. Although you’re still mature and trying to act like an adult you’re still a kid learning how to live.

Do you think the greatest challenge was on set or was it with the script?

NR: I think that the greatest challenge was just the time crunch. We had a very small budget and a very small amount of time to shoot. We shot the whole thing in 23 days I believe, and that was probably the biggest challenge. We were working very very long hours everyday from 12, 13, 14 hour days. Beyond that everyone got along swimmingly on set and the script there were no issues there.

Now, we have to ask. What was it like working with Nick Offerman and Alison Brie?

NR: It was crazy-ass cool. I was very very excited when I heard that they were attached originally. And more than a little bit intimidated but when Nick Offerman first showed up on set – from faraway he looks very intimidating, the beard is very commanding and he’s just a big guy. But he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, one of the funniest I’ve ever met and he was really talented. They really brought their A-game and really elevated the movie and you, you had to step your game up.

What were some of the things you learned from these veteran actors while working with them on set?

NR: I learned a lot just by watching him (Offerman) to be honest. There wasn’t  so much “imparted wisdom” on me but I just watched and learned. His comedic timing is so spot on, I couldn’t keep a straight face. I learned how to  ruin every scene in the movie by laughing, he’s the funniest guy I’ve ever met.

What was the experience like with your co-stars and being out in the woods and all the shooting?

NR: It was great. We filmed in Ohio and believe it or not Ohio is incredibly beautiful. The location there, Archer, was amazing  and once we got out there in the woods I think the film, really for me, it became real. That was where I really found the character I guess, it was in the woods. It was a lot of fun – it was hot though. Ohio in July, it’s very very humid and muggy and kind of disgusting in parts. The woods were like a whole other character.

We heard you and your co-stars had a lot of improv while on set, and in the woods. What was that like? Did the director give you anything to do or give you ideas on what to do, or you guys plan it out?

NR: Well, there was no planning – that goes against the whole idea of the improv. But yeah, the pipe scene is the one story that we always tell people when they ask about the improv. That was on our day off and Jordan, Chris and Ross, our director of Photography took us out into the woods. Jordan had found this pipe earlier on a location scout but hadn’t found a reason to use it so we went out there and Jordan told us to mess around and do something. We started banging on the pipe and Moises, who is Biaggio jumped up on top and started tribal dancing and I had no idea that it was going to become like a thread that ties the film together. Nick, Megan and Marco are probably some of the best improvisers on the planet so I learned the most from them, from watching them and watching how they work. They’re geniuses.

What do you hope to get out of this experience? Do you want to do more movies or continue with television?

NR: The main thing is just finding projects that I’m passionate about regardless of what format it’s in. I would love to work in more features and eventually direct someday but for right now I’m working on graduating high school.

Check out Kings of Summer, which releases to Philadelphia on June 7th at the Ritz V. The film will also be playing at Awesomefest this summer.  
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