“Mid90s” teems with more than “big-pants, little-wheels” nostalgia––it cleverly plays with the liminality of adolescence, where identity and purpose are existential Play-Doh.
As Jonah Hill’s directorial debut makes clear, skating for dudes isn’t just about malt liquor, getting with girls, and senseless hedonism. It is about finding a constant in our lives that we can always rely on, even when everything around us is dilapidating into chaos.
The Knockturnal attended the 56th New York Film Festival secret screening for Mid90s last Thursday. Check out our exclusive interviews below with the cast and director himself.
The Knockturnal: In what ways do you think the community of skating is like the community of film? What are the parallels there?
Lucas Hedges: Oh, wow. That’s very interesting. Well, both are kind of cult-like in some respect. My character is not as much apart of the skating community in the movie, and I honestly don’t know much about skating––my brother skated when he grew up. It seems like that if you are truly in love with film or truly in love with skating, it becomes your whole life. These people live for their art. Skating is everything to these skaters. Jonah seems like he really lives for this art form.
The Knockturnal: There’s a lot of tension between you and Sunny’s character in the film. Were there any memories you drew from in order to better inhabit your character?
Lucas Hedges: No, I think I mostly drew from…I don’t relate to having an abusive relationship with anyone in my life, but I do relate to having a abusive relationship with myself. So, it was mostly about drawing from those voices in my head and how I attack myself and externalize that.
The Knockturnal: Did you learn any tricks from the boys on set?
Lucas Hedges: Do you know much about skating?
The Knockturnal: Yeah!
Lucas Hedges: Do you know who Rodney Mullen is?
The Knockturnal: Of course, he’s a legend.
Lucas Hedges: Well, one of the hair people on set was dating Rodney Mullen and he came by and built me a board, and he gave me a private skate lesson after.
The Knockturnal: Dude, that’s crazy.
Lucas Hedges: I know, man. It was magical. What a special man.
The Knockturnal: Music has always been a big part of skating, especially in parts. I think it says something about that particular skater’s worldview.
Jonah Hill: One-hundred percent. Music is the ethic and the aesthetic.
The Knockturnal: How did you go about choosing the soundtrack to Mid90s, and were you influenced by any particular videos you used to watch as a kid?
Jonah Hill: There’s a really big nod to a part in Mouse where we use “Watermelon Man,” and that was the only one that was a real, like, if you skate, you’ll know, and if you don’t, it’s still a good choice for the scene. That was our big hat tip to my favorite video at that time.
The Knockturnal: How did you approach becoming a skate rat?
Sunny Suljic: My character didn’t really play as a skater in the beginning of the movie, just because I am finding out who I am in my friend group. I didn’t know what I was doing at that point, and then I slowly started becoming a skater––me understanding the skate culture and skating for such a long time, I didn’t really put much thought process into. It was, like, oh, I mean now I can just act like a skater. In the beginning, I wasn’t really outgoing whatsoever. I didn’t have any passion for anything, and I was just trying to find the front door.
The Knockturnal: You take any heavy slams while you were filming?
Olan Prenatt: Nah, we had to, like, do a certain type of skating, which was street skating from the 90s. We were limited on the tricks we had to do. We just had fun, man.
The Knockturnal: What was the dopest part of the project?
Olan Prenatt: The dopest part about the project was just having fun and chilling with everybody in the skate shop scenes. In the skate shop scenes, it was just so fun sitting on the couch and just having fun and joking around with everybody. I think that really helped our performances––that energy that was created on set.
The Knockturnal: How does being a skateboarder influence you on a day-to-day basis––the community, the spirit of it?
Olan Prenatt: For sure! I know almost everything I know from skateboarding. Skateboarding showed me at a young age what the world is, or at least a part of it, you know. I wasn’t the type of skateboarder that got dropped off by their parents. I was taking buses to downtown L.A. and skating all around with my brothers ad my friends. It definitely showed me a part of the world I grew from.
The film hits theaters on Oct 19, 2018.