“Waves” star Alexa Demie had never seen a script quite like the one for director Trey Edward Shults’ drama.
While many directors have methods of making their scripts stand out from the hundreds that pass desks everyday, Demie was specifically drawn to the distinct fonts, colors and cinematic details that helped it jump out.
“What initially attracted me to the project was the strength and the vulnerability in Alexis and her willingness to put her foot down and stand up for what she believes in and set boundaries,” Demie told TheWrap’s Beatrice Verhoeven. “I’m a very visual person and love music, and the script had beautiful music in it, and in terms of the script, he had aspect ratios in it and was using different size fonts and colors, and it was a full experience. And you don’t ever get that in scripts. He made it creative and he made it his own.”
Demie and her co-star in the film Kelvin Harrison Jr. each gravitated to Shults’ tragic love story set within the community of sunny, suburban, South Florida, and they quickly and intimately got to know each other.
“We jam packed a Get-To-Know-You 101, we watched a lot of videos on co-dependent relationships, and I like to draw upon personal experience,” Demie said of her character and of working with Harrison Jr. “We did a lot together and then went off and did our own thing and then brought all of that out on the day.”
Harrison Jr. had previously worked on Shults’ breakout horror film “It Comes at Night,” and when it came time for “Waves,” he pushed Shults into giving him whichever role would be the most challenging. He opted for the role of a high school wrestler, even though Shults knew he’s not exactly the athletic type.
“I don’t like sports, I don’t play them, I don’t watch them, except the Saints,” Harrison Jr. said. “Music is what I understand, sports is not. But I find myself for some reason trying to be in every sports movie I can be in. I did three months of wrestling training, I would go to Crossfit in the morning, wrestling in the afternoon and wrestling in the evening, and I did that for three months. I went from 115 lbs to 160 lbs — it was eating, eating, eating and wrestling.”
Harrison Jr. said with each of his roles he’s trying to push the boundaries of what an acceptable narrative would be for young boys, and Demie says that she’s been moved at the many stories of families coming together based on the film’s emotional impact.
“‘Waves’ is all about feeling and the things that we don’t say, what we know and understand on a deeper level,” he said. “It’s really a movie about 2019 and family and understanding; how do we communicate better, how do we love ourselves better, how do we learn not to fear the world and each other so that we can nurture those connections?”
Demie calls “Waves” a film of humanity and communication and forgiveness in a time where society is quick to cancel somebody or end their career because they made a mistake. “Obviously there are some mistakes that are unforgivable,” Demie said. “I think that it’s important that we all communicate and we all kind of support each other and be a little easier on each other. The world is already so difficult, and just connecting more than disconnecting.”
“Waves” is in theaters now. Watch the video interview with Harrison Jr. and Demie above.
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