Excerpts from roundtable interview by Ronald P. Salfen (“Presbyterian Outlook”) with Jordan Vogt-Roberts, director and Gabriel Basso & Moises Arias, stars of “The Kings of Summer”
Interviewed at Dallas, Texas, on April 11, 2013
Jordan Vogt-Roberts: This is my first time doing a big roundtable like this. Questions?
Presbyterian Outlook: So which one spoiled Eden, the snake or the woman?
JVR: What’s the difference? (everyone laughs)
JVR: Ah, uh, the woman, absolutely. 100 percent (laughs). Uh, now we’re getting all biblical about this.
PO: I have to, I’m required. … but you don’t have to answer it! J
JVR: Uh, speaking as a lapsed Jew, I mean, if we want to get real about it, didn’t God technically spoil it by giving them free will, and therefore giving them the choice?
I don’t know, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten into … I’m not in high school any more, so I’m not really into debating religion and things like that….
PO: So how about here?
JVR: In the case of this story?
JVR: I think they spoiled it for themselves. It’s not bringing the woman into the situation, that’s not what screwed it up. Bringing the snake into the situation, that’s not what screwed it up. You know, we’re never really doing it. I love the scene where they gut the rabbit. No one goes into the movie, like, “You know what I want to see? A little kid cut a rabbit open.” (Everyone laughs.) No one wants to see that. But by the time you get there, ideally, it’s earned it, and it’s warranted enough, and that’s the reality of what they’ve been talking about this entire time. The movie is “Stand By Me” for a video game generation. And like, they spoil it for themselves by not doing it properly, and the simultaneous wonder and despair of living in your own world. You know, like there are high highs and low lows associated with that. So, to create your own world, you obviously get to live however you want, but that’s not the reality. He set himself up for failure … . At the end of the day, they didn’t have any real reason to run away, anyway.
PO: Moises, did you ever think of yourself as a kind of boy Friday to the other guys’ Robinson Crusoe?
Moses Arias: I don’t get that reference.
JVR: You guys need to understand. Nothing will make you feel older in your life than spending a summer with a bunch of 18-year-old kids. At one point, I’m playing Super Nintendo Street Fighter, which is probably the most influential thing in my childhood, period, and I hand them the controller, and their response is “How do I do this?” Careful with your references. You might date yourself, as I did, many times, on the shoot.
PO: Gabe, one of my teenage awkward moments was kissing a girl on stage in a middle school play. How comfortable for you was that scene with Erin?
JVR: Yeah, speaking of laughing on set, I think I had to pull him aside and say, “That’s not how you kiss a girl.” (Everyone laughs.)
Gabe Basso: No, no, the first time it happened, the mustache and facial hair was fake, and that made it uncomfortable, because they’d say “Cut!” and we’d pull apart and she’d have these little hairs in her mouth. (Laughs) Yeah, it was weird. But it’s always uncomfortable, you know? Kisses in nature are supposed to be intimate. And to share that with people in general, it’s uncomfortable in its own way, but it’s never like “I can’t do this.”
JVR: In that scene where they kiss, I’m using every single take, because after every cut they just start laughing, and so I’m using right into the last frame before they just burst into laughter.
Ronald P. Salfen is the minister at St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Irving, Texas.