Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, The Kings of Summer is an indie dramedy about three young men who escape their oppressive parents and live in a makeshift shack in the woods. Working alongside young actors Moises Arias, Gabriel Basso, and Nick Robinson are a group of comedians, which include Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, Tony Hale, Kumail Nanjiani, Hannibal Buress, and more.
Arias has previously starred in "Hannah Montana," and provided voice work to The Secret World of Arrietty. In the near future, he will voice a character in Despicable Me 2, and appear in Ender's Game. Basso has appeared in Super 8, and the show "The Big C." Lead Kings actor Robinson has appeared on "Boardwalk Empire," and also "Melissa & Joey."
I sat down with Arias, Basso, and Robinson to discuss their film, learning about masculinity from Nick Offerman, whether parents do or don't understand, and more.
The Kings of Summer opens in Chicago on June 7.
There's a line of dialogue at the end of the film from Nick Offerman's character, in which his explanation for stopping a certain thing in his life is that it didn't make him nervous. How important is it to you to do things that make you nervous, in terms of your career, and your lives?
Moises Arias: You should always live outside your comfort zone. [The character of] Biaggio made me nervous. It is a role that is very difficult to not make a gimmick, or some random kid saying ridiculous lines. I have always been a fan of doing things that are outside of my comfort zone, and challenge me as an actor or a person, whatever.
What makes you nervous now?
Arias: I think when this movie comes out, I think I am excited to just see how people react to it, and where it could go from here. We've gotten great acclaim at Sundance, and other festivals. I'm just excited to see if more people will be able to see it, and if it will become what Moonrise Kingdom was last year. It could be anything. It could easily just be a memorable indie at Sundance, or it could be a lot more than that.
Working with Nick Offerman, did you learn to be appreciate good facial hair? Or masculinity?
Arias: He is the definition of masculine. He's a carpenter, he plays guitar, and has a manly-ass beard.
Gabriel Basso: He had everything.
Arias: It taught me that I should probably shave more, and see if it grows my facial hair out. I think that's a myth.
Nick Robinson: I'll never be as much as a man of Nick Offerman. If I could grow a beard, or even a mustache, I would do it. But I can't.
What did you learn from interacting with, or simply watching, the work of this movie's list of talented comedians?
Arias: I wasn't in very many scenes with those guys. I could see those moments where it wasn't scripted, and you can see the back and forth, and you learn a lot and you try to keep up with people like that.
Robinson: All those guys are just ridiculously talented. I had the pleasure of working with Offerman. I witnessed Kumail who is genius as the Chinese delivery man. The actual scene was originally 20 minutes long, and they were just riffing forever. Very funny people.
Basso: Megan Mullally's just ... they're all on a different level. The way they think of things and how quick they are, it's to the point of absurdity. You can really see them working at all times. Even Nick Offerman, despite his face being still 90 percent of the time, you can tell he is always thinking. You learn a lot from these people by observation.
Can anyone explain the meaning of the post-credits scene?
Robinson: That's just Jordan having a personal joke and making himself laugh. It's from a deserted steel mill that was near the retirement community we were staying at. There were no apartments near the set, so we got acquainted with the local elderly.
In terms of the famous Will Smith song "Parent's Just Don't Understand," do you guys think parents forget they understand, or is it that kids do not understand?
Arias: I think it's a hybrid. Kids want to be adults, and adults don't remember how it is to be a kid.
Basso: And they know how shitty it is to be an adult.
Arias: I think that adults as kids, they never had power. Now that they do, they want to be in control of the power, and it has to do with you loving your kid. Kids just want to be adults. It's just a tough thing. I am not looking forward to being an adult, and raising my kid. If I have a daughter, I know the ages of 14, 15, 16 are just going to be brutal. I have a sister.
Do you fear adulthood?
Robinson: I think I am an adult, at least according to the law.
Basso: It still freaks me out. It's just a lot of responsibility. It's just weird to think that one day you'll be in the position where my parents are.
Robinson: Make decisions and shit.
Basso: Pay taxes.
Do you feel like you're an adult with this business?
Arias: It matures you quick.
Is this industry like pre-adulthood?
Arias: I think we matured quickly. You have to know hours, and know all that. I think that in situations we can be adults, but in situations we can dumbass kids. I don't ever want to stop being a kid. I think that's where I should be. I'm not completely immature, but I definitely do what I want.
Was it refreshing for you then, to go back and be a kid again?
Arias: 15 wasn't that long ago. I'm 19.
Basso: They wanted us to do that, and find that chemistry and see. We were a lot closer to 15 than the writer was, or than Jordan was. That's why they hired us. And when they threw us in the woods and said, "Be kids," it was like we had that freedom. Was it refreshing working in conditions that allowed you to be a kid again?
Basso: It was awesome. And it was really cool to actually get along with these guys, and not have to fake chemistry or anything. It was really cool being paid to be a kid.
What did you have for breakfast this morning? Arias: Oatmeal. Robinson: Eggs benedict. Basso: I had one of those white cheddar pretzels in my room.
Favorite fruit? Arias: Apple. Basso: Mango, probably. Robinson: Nectarine up in this shit.
Favorite summer movie? Arias: I'm trying to think of what came out last summer ... Basso: Can you just say one movie you liked during the summer? Arias: I liked Django Unchained, but that was in the winter. I can't think of any. Basso: I can't either.
Age of first kiss? Arias: Nine. Robinson: Baller man, shit! Basso: My first kiss was on camera. It was horrible. I was 14, 15. Robinson: Seventh grade, 12 or 13.