From acclaimed director Trey Edward Shults, Waves is a beautiful, emotional journey of a family as they navigate through the pains and triumphs of life.
Taking place in a suburban town in South Florida, the incredible cast including award winning actor, Sterling K. Brown, as well as Renée Elise Goldsberry, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Alexa Demie, and Taylor Russell explore love, hardships, forgiveness, loss and strength even in the darkest of times. A true reminder that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. The Knockturnal had an exclusive interview with the castmates and director of this heart wrenching film. Check it out below!
The Knockturnal: You guys were tackling some deep and really heavy issues. Were there any times where you felt like you had to take a breather or if a scene ended, you needed to do something to wind down? Or did you stay in character?
Taylor Russell: Every day we needed to wind down, I think.
Alexa Demie: Yeah, every day. A lot of the scenes between Kelvin and I, I was like googling “spa”…nearest spa. Like Taylor, come with me to the spa.
Taylor Russell: We would make lattes. I would make Alexa these night elixirs. I would make these little mushroom potions for her, walk across the hallway and give it to her.
Alexa Demie: They were so comforting, and I need that.Kevlin Harrison Jr, Alexa Demie, Taylor Russell Kevlin Harrison Jr, Alexa Demie, Taylor Russell
The Knockturnal: You were good? Or stayed in character?
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: I wasn’t good. I just went back, the guy that plays one of my friends in the movie, we lived together so we were just in the hotel room chilling. Just chilling, playing fake basketball.
Alexa Demie: That was your wind down.
Taylor Russell: A little hoop on the wall? Cute.
The Knockturnal: In several interviews you guys have said how collaborative this production was and how Trey really trusted you to form your character but were there times where you kind of wanted more direction or were you happy to have this freedom?
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: Oh yeah, we never get this freedom.
Alexa Demie: I was happy, I think we were all happy to have this freedom. Trey is so trusting, and we trusted him, so it just felt energetically aligned and so it’s the thing where you don’t have to say much to feel. And sometimes that’s like the best directing, it’s like an energy exchange. So, I think that we were all feeling that and in this like, zone together. It felt good.
Taylor Russell: Yeah, I think that it was really good directing. He’s not so hands off that he’s like, I don’t care what happens, like be crazy with the character and run off the script. It’s a controlled freedom. It’s in a vacuum where you can run around but there still is a parameter so it’s a specifically safe and free environment that you just don’t get and that’s why it’s so special to be free in that way.
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: Trust, just like you said. Trust is a huge, big thing. He trusted us and I don’t think anyone was going to walk in there and try to butcher the movie, everyone had a lot of respect for the material, so it just adds to a safe space.
The Knockturnal: And I know you guys shot a lot and then a lot was cut, were there any scenes that were cut that you were hoping to see?
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: So much! We had so much epic stuff that happened in the beginning.
Alexa Demie: Yeah, there’s a lot. I know what was cut from our half and I hope one day it’s released.
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: She’s so good in it, she’s like, she’s so good in it.
Alexa Demie: Thank you.
The Knockturnal: I know you guys have emerging careers and bright futures so are there any type of roles that you’re trying to pursue?
Alexa Demie: A comedy, bring me a comedy.
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: She deserves a comedy, she needs it.
Alexa Demie: I think, anything that’s good. Come through.
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: Maybe a sci fi.
Alexa Demie: Something with a sword! I love a Samurai sword. I played with one recently for a shoot and I really connected to the sword so maybe something with a Samurai sword.
Taylor Russell: Ooh, that’s good.
The Knockturnal: I think that people can relate to this film in some type of aspect. It feels very personal. So, was any part of the film based off of your real-life experience?
Trey Edwards Shults: Definitely, a lot. I think the whole narrative functions like autobiography or semi autobiography to fictional narrative back to autobiography and it keeps going like a kind of pattern through the whole thing.
The Knockturnal: It’s definitely a really profound and impactful film and it addresses really heavy topics, we got abortion, drug abuse, grief. Was there a specific reason you chose characters that are teenagers to deal with these issues?
Trey Edwards Shults: That’s a good question. Honestly it happened really organically over a kind of long amount of time. I think a big part of that is also when you’re that age, you know you’re not an adult and you’re not a kid and you feel everything. I felt, it can feel like the weight of the world and so emotional and you experience a lot, so I think that combined with other things, it just naturally became that.
The Knockturnal: I also think you did an incredible job with creating a healthy, authentic black family. Was this always the idea that you would be following this black family’s journey?
Trey Edwards Shults: It’s because of Kelvin. I had; you know this had been brewing for a really long time, but I couldn’t click it all into place. It was a family, and there was a brother and sister and this tragedy and all this good stuff but every time I tried to write something, it didn’t all come together and I met Kel on our last movie and we loved each other and wanted to work together again and I think it was that and you know I went through some things in my life to where it all clicked into place for the nuance and specificity of a black family. It’s all because of Kel so when I actually started writing it, we were almost doing mini therapy sessions and there were phone calls and texts because he was off working on other movies and I was just in Florida and it was talking about a lot of our past, when we were that age you know, relationships with our fathers, with our mothers, with any lovers and pressures we felt, commonalities, differences, all that good stuff so that was really incredible. And we were kind of doing that and I was writing and then I sent him a draft and then he was one of the first people to get a draft, he got it probably eight months before we started shooting and then the collaboration continued to build throughout everything. And then it continued with our incredible cast. It was amazing.
The Knockturnal: This film had a kind of fly on the wall type of feel, I felt like a silent observer and it kind of reminded me of the 90s film, Kids, in just how raw it was. So, I just wanted to know, did you pull inspiration from other movies or directors?
Trey Edwards Shults: Yeah, definitely. I think another big part of it is, you know I’m obsessed with movies and love them and elements of this had been brewing for so long, I think a lot of that just naturally embeds its way in there. It’s funny you mention Kids because Harmony Karine has a voice cameo in this movie. When Tay, or Emily is in class, you can hear his voice. He lives down in South Florida, so he just came to shoot with us for a day. To be honest, when I actually started writing it was a lot of, it was music more so and Florida and just drawing on some real life stuff and the collaboration and everything so it was less movies but I love movies, it’s all embedded in there.
Be sure to check Waves out in theaters on November 15.