“The Kings of Summer” is the story of three teenage boys who run away from home and build a house in the woods, and it is one of my favorite films of the year. One of the boys is played by Gabriel Basso, who talked to me about making the film.
I suspect that it was not nearly as comfortable to be out there in the woods as it looked in the movie.
Yeah. I grew up in the woods so it was fairly easy for me to readjust to living there. At the same time it was my first time in the Midwest, where it’s super humid and the mosquitoes are out. It was a hard working environment. But we adjusted to the surroundings and we were able to work really hard and produce a good movie.
Jordan Vogt-Roberts [the director] was out there for two months maybe two and a half and I was there for a month. We started I think July 5th and ended at the end of August.
Tell me a little bit about the audition process. How did you come to be in this film?
I saw the script and I immediately fell in love with the script immediately. I went in and a couple days went by and I went in again and then I was called back in again and there was a mix and match and that’s when I met Nick Robinson who plays Joe and we read opposite one another. It was a real pleasure to work with them and thank God they asked me.
You and Nick play lifelong friends and it really comes across that way on screen. Tell me a little bit about what the two of you had done so that you would come across as having known each other all your lives.
Jordan had us in an improv class before we flew out to Ohio. It gave us a chance to really to spend time with one another. In Ohio where we were staying we were kind of forced to spend time around one another and it was a pleasure. The first couple of days we were out there we had to find ways to occupy ourselves. Just because it was so boring and then the work kicked in. It gave us so much time to catch up and be boys in the woods. That you know thank God it came across as though we knew each other for a long time on camera but we really are friends. It was a pleasure to spend time with one another.
Your character has to do everything with his foot all taped up. Did that make it more difficult?
Yeah. I had to do everything with that boot. Sometimes it was just impossible. No kid should do what I did with a boot, sprinting, jumping. It was pretty ridiculous. But it got to be pretty nasty. By the end I had sweat in it. Like it was muddy. It was disgusting. But it was fine. Like I’m not going to sit here and complain about it. It was tough with most of the things with the cumbersome weight on your leg.
I loved your character’s frustration with his parents. The way that you responded to them is very real and authentic.
My parents were played by Megan Mullally and Mark Evan Jackson and they probably are two of the funniest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. It was very hard to work with them just because I had to keep a straight fact the entire time. And that one dinner scene where they are just talking and talking I was dying. Like when the camera was not on me I could not keep a straight face. They are just so funny. Whenever I was about to laugh I would have to eat the burger. And not laugh. But I held my own for most of that scene. And I did the best I could at keeping it together. But it was just so difficult. They were a pleasure to work with. It was really amazing.
I think all teenagers have at one time or another the fantasy of running off and building a house for themselves. What do you think teenagers will think of this film or what do you want them to think about it?
I really hope that teenagers get outside after seeing this film. Rarely do you walk down the street doing anything that my grandparent’s generation did. And half of that comes with the technology advances. You’d have to appreciate the outdoors. And you really have to get out there and see things. I really want to experience that and like live in the woods and be able to appreciate nature just because it’s such a beautiful thing. You just sit there and appreciate even the heat and the mosquitoes. In its own way it’s something special. And hopefully after someone sees this film they can appreciate what we went through to make this film. And where we shot it. And there were times where we were shooting the film and I was like I’m so glad to be back in the Midwest. And to be here in the woods and see stuff like this because it really is amazing. And I would strongly advise someone to get out there and see what is nature and experience that. Yeah I think as much as we rely on technology, part of us wants to escape our dependence on them. And I think this film really captures like what we don’t need. We don’t need those things in order to be successful and have fun. And it’s important to not rely on those things.