Liam James Interview on The Way Way Back

This Wednesday, 28 August, sees the UK release of coming-of-age comedy-drama The Way Way Back.

Tony Colette, Steve Carrell - The Way Way BackWarm, funny, and benefiting from a perfectly picked cast, the film follows 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) as he reluctantly sets off on holiday to the New England coast with his mum (Toni Collette) and her overbearing boyfriend (Steve Carell).

Duncan thinks it’s going to be the worst summer ever. Until, that is, he chances upon a local water park run by the charismatic and eccentric Owen (Sam Rockwell).

Flicks And The City were lucky enough to chat with the film’s young star, 16-year-old Liam James, who you’ll recognise from TV police drama The Killing and apocalyptic disaster movie 2012.

Check out what Liam had to say below about summer vacations, water slides, mentors, the Entourage movie, Star Wars and much more!

The Way Way Back - Toni Collette, Liam JamesAre there any parallels between you and Duncan?

I think there’s nothing but parallels between me and Duncan!

Including Duncan’s awkward dancing scene at the water park where he hangs out?

Yes, they were all my own dance moves!

How did you enjoy filming that dance scene, or was it a moment of terror for you?

I think that moment was a particular moment of terror in an otherwise fun water park!

Duncan really comes alive when he starts working at the water park. Do you enjoy spending time at places like that?

I do, yeah. We have some friends who have a place on the Sunshine Coast, in Vancouver, and a lot of times the water’s too cold to go in and there’s a pool right close by. So even though there’s a big ocean, we always end up going to the pool. I think those places are still popular.

The Way Way Back - Sam Rockwell, Liam JamesSam Rockwell’s character Owen is a sort of mentor to Duncan. Who do you look to as a mentor in real life?

Someone who’s always been there for me, who I don’t always like to listen to but I try to, is my dad. He makes sure that I’m very smart with all my school and stuff. And he’s always been there for me in that.

What was it like working with a cast like Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Toni Collette, and Allison Janney?  

When I realised I was going to be working with all those people, I was really excited, and when I got to meet them I was doubly excited as they’re such amazing people. They’re very talented but also they’re just good people.

We had a really fun time at the water park. After work we would all go down the water slides together. There was one day when Toni was at the water park and so was Sam as well as directors Nat and Jim and we all went down the water slide together and had a great time after work!

Working with such experienced actors, what did you learn from them?

They’re so generous in the way they act, on screen and off screen, and so professional that you feel comfortable enough to do whatever you need to do on screen. So what I learned, almost subliminally, was to always make sure you have a level head and are being very generous to the other person acting with you. And all of these actors are huge actors and they still do that to this day. They’re so good at what they do and I really appreciate everything they did for me.

The Way Way Back Directors, Nat Faxon, Jim Rush, Liam JamesThe film’s writer-directors, Nat and Jim, have a comedy improv background, as do cast members like Steve Carell. How did that influence the way the film was shot?

They do have a lot of comedy improv background, so Nat and Jim did have those moments where they’d say, ‘you can try it this way’, or they’d throw a funny line in with Sam or even me sometimes. There was some room to do improv and it was really fun. And they’re just fun guys to hang out with too.

Did making a movie about a family’s summer vacation bring back memories of your own favourite summer vacation?

I’d even say that shooting this movie was one of the favourite summer vacations I’d ever had! I’d never been to that side of the coast, so getting to film in Boston on the east coast with all those amazing people was an amazing vacation.

What’s next for you?

I’ve been auditioning for various things, so hopefully something soon.

I heard that Entourage is one of your favourite TV shows, so if you could be in the Entourage movie, who would you like to play?

I would love anything in that movie! I’d even play myself, though I don’t know how interesting a character that would be [laughs]. I would do anything to be part of Entourage, one of my favourite shows!

Would you be up for a big sci-fi movie like Star Wars: Episode VII? And, if so, what kind of part would you like?

I love those movies; I had an amazing time on 2012. I’d love to jump back into something that crazy! I think a villain would be very cool to play!

Don’t miss The Way Way Back in UK cinemas on 28 August!