We were on the red carpet for the 2019 IFP Gotham Awards this week.
A24’s Waves was nominated for Best Feature and Taylor Russell won the award for Breakthrough Actor. She sadly couldn’t attend the gala so her co-star Kelvin Harrison Jr. accepted the award on her behalf. Check out our exclusive red carpet interviews with Kelvin and writer/director Trey Edward Shults.
The Knockturnal: Tell me what does it mean to be here?
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: Such an honor. I love Trey Edward Shults so much and he’s so smart and he is one of my brothers. So to be here, me and Taylor Russell just moved to New York, so to be at the Gotham awards is super cool.
The Knockturnal: So you’re based in NYC now?
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: I live in Williamsburg now.
The Knockturnal: That’s exciting. What prompted the move?
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: All of our friends are here. Everyone’s here. So my best friend’s here, my other buddies are here, and it just made sense to me. I was living in LA for a while and I was sad. So NYC is the best.
The Knockturnal: Before you moved to NYC, did you spend a lot of time here?
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: Most of the jobs I’ve had are here, so I would always come here and then the moment I moved here I ended up working out in LA all summer.
The Knockturnal: You have two performances that are being talked about this season: Waves and Luce. Speak about portraying these two characters.
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: I think Luce is in a position where he has more privilege and more power in his conversations, so he can articulate himself better. He’s been in brought up in a home that allows him to have an identity of his own, even if it wasn’t the identity that he necessarily should have taken on. And I think Tyler is in a place where he doesn’t have that same voice … that same agency. So as these boys are both trying to fight for their humanity and try to fight against this idea of black exceptionalism, the two have different outcomes because of opportunity and privilege and how power works in our country. So it’s interesting.
The Knockturnal: I feel like you and Sterling bonded IRL. I see you posting him on social. Can you share what you admire about him?
Kelvin Harrison Jr.: I love Sterl. I love SKB. I love making fun of him. I love messing with him. He’s so smart. He’s so funny. And he’s just such a sweet dude. So to just to be in this movie with him and just to be on on this tour and ride with them. It’s just such a gift to be able to watch how he does it.
The Knockturnal: So tell me what it means to be honored here today.
Trey Edward Shults: It’s just humbling. It’s really, really humbling. I think the films here are so incredible. So just to be one in the pack is really amazing.
The Knockturnal: The film is loosely inspired by personal experiences and observations. What is it like when you screen it for friends in family?
Trey Edward Shults: Yeah, it’s interesting. It’s a really organic thing of starting with your loved ones. Then it grows outside of that. When I’m collaborating with Kelvin, when I’m talking to my girlfriend, when I’m trying to understand a greater perspective outside of myself. So where it ends is this really specific personal, but also connected personal, if that makes sense between your collaborators … So yeah I’ve been showing the movie to family and my stepdad just saw it for the first time. It’s really interesting. Really interesting. It’s hard to talk about, but it’s a lot. My parents are therapists … I think it’s shaped me into the human being I am and the kind of movies I want to make, so especially them watching personal movies that they can connect to. We have stuff to talk about after for sure.
The Knockturnal: Why did you decide to film the movie in Florida?
Trey Edward Shults: I live there. I love it. Florida was first place I moved after I left Texas. We shot in my girlfriend’s hometown where we lived … and I would even be riding my bike around crying, thinking of ideas in a movie. So it was just meant to be Florida.
The Knockturnal: Can you speak about assembling your cast?
Trey Edward Shults: Yeah, I think they’re the best in the world. It started with Kelvin’s energy of a person I love and trust and [I said] let’s build that out. So even a guy like Sterling, he seems like an incredible human being. He’s so talented. Let me reach out and see if there’s a connection and then it will be the same. Like if it’s Taylor and Alexa auditioning someone I’ve never seen, being blown away by their audition and then talking to them and just connecting with them.
The Knockturnal: Had Alexa filmed Euphoria before this movie? I am sure you have heard the characters are similar.
Trey Edward Shults: No. I know, right? I don’t know what that’s about, but yeah.
The Premier Sponsor of the 2019 IFP Gotham Awards is The New York Times, and the Philanthropic Supporter is The Rockefeller Foundation. The Official Water Partner is FIJI Water, the Official Airline Partner is JetBlue, the Official Wine Partner is Robert Hall Winery and the Official Auto Partner is Cadillac.
The film is now playing.