I love the hilarious Cox commercials, with Nick Robinson as the perpetually-humiliated teenager whose father thinks he is super-cool as he shows off all of the great features of Cox television, internet, and phone. And I love “The Kings of Summer,” the hit independent film about three boys who run away and build a house in the woods. He also appears on “Melissa and Joey” and is getting ready to go to college. So I was especially pleased to get a chance to talk with Nick Robinson about the movie.
It must have been really hot filming in the woods in the summer.
It was hot and it was the humidity that killed me. But the natural beauty in Ohio made up for it. The locations were amazing. The best day was when we got to swim around in the quarry.
What made you want to play this role?
I fell in love with the sensibility of the script. It really captured the experience of being 15, stuck in that weird no-man’s-land between childhood and adulthood. It’s awkward, no one really knows how to treat you, you’re aware of the world and know all kinds of things but still have this childlike wonder and imagination and creativity.
It looked like you guys really were friends who had known each other forever.
It’s hard to fake chemistry. Everything you saw on screen was very real. Jordan Vogt-Roberts [the director] gave us improv training beforehand to let us get to know one another and get ready to go toe-to-toe with some of the funniest people on the planet. Have of the film is improv. Jordan would just take us out to the woods with the camera. The pipe scene, where we’re all banging on the pipe, that was completely improvised. They just said, “Go for it,” and we stared messing around. The sound is just iPhone sound.
How do you keep a straight face acting opposite Nick Offerman, who plays your dad?
I don’t! I ruined I don’t know how many takes. It was intimidating when I first met him, but once you get to know him he’s a complete teddy bear. Also, just one of the most talented and funniest people I’ve ever worked with. He has that stonewall, straight-drive delivery and it just kills me. I could hardly keep it together. That was me biting my tongue to keep from laughing.
What did your character, Joe, and the other boys want to find when they went to the woods?
They really just wanted to be independent for once in their lives, to be free from their parents, who were overbearing or in Joe’s case downright mean sometimes, to be their own men and kind of find themselves and find their potential. They wanted to live off the land free from any societal pressures and free from their parents especially.
But not free from Boston Market!
No, thank goodness! Without Boston Market it would have been more like “Lord of the Flies.”
What would you bring if you were going to live in the woods?
A tent, a pocket-knife, and some matches or flint, just the essentials. You can find water and food.
What’s the best advice you ever got about acting?
Acting’s not particularly complicated. But the great thing is you can step into somebody else’s shoes without dealing with the consequences. It’s very therapeutic in that way.