1980’s set from In Focus Features time of armageddon, Banks Repeta plays Paul Graff, a Jewish boy living in Queens with his close-knit family. Paul, an aspiring artist, is at an age where the expectations that his parents (played by Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong) place on him are becoming more serious and intense. But while young Paul couldn’t care less about what the future holds for him as an adult (especially when he’s just starting sixth grade), he slowly discovers that the world around him isn’t the same for everyone, a hard lesson he learns. . he learns after befriending Johnny (Jaylin Webb), a black classmate.
Based on the childhood memories of writer-director James Grey, time of armageddon is a portrait of two boys who realize their differences unfairly put them on competitive life paths. Repeta, 14, and Webb, 16, sat with THR to discuss how they connected with each other and their characters, looking at co-star Strong’s infamous acting process and what they knew, and later learned, about life in the 1980s.
How did the project come about and what were your first thoughts on the script?
REPEAT BANKS I got the audition from my agent, and my mom and I did a self-recording. We get a callback from James, and [he] he sent us the full script. I had about two hours to read everything. Then we did the Zoom with him, and I put it all together. I saw what he could bring to the table, and then James saw what he wanted from me. And then we had to play and play with a scene over Zoom, and that’s where I got an idea.
jaylin webb I had just left the set in The wonderful years, and my mom told me she had an audition for this untitled project. We were coming back from Georgia, which is where The wonderful years is filmed, to Florida. In the car, she was going through all the pages, analyzing the script. We auditioned and about two weeks later, James wanted to have a director’s session with me. In that session, we went through the scenes and he made me do weird things like shuffle a deck of Uno while he said my lines. At the end, he said, “I’ll hear from you soon,” but I thought that was something every kid does, I just thought he was being nice. But the next day after school, my mom told me that I got the part. I was like, “Wow, she really meant it!”
What was it like for you two to meet for the first time?
REPEAT We had a window of just under two weeks to get to know everyone, and that’s where we hit it off. And it was great because when I met Jaylin, we had this kind of classroom feel, which made it feel a little bit like home.
I have read itin theThe classroom used in the movie was actually your school on set.
REPEAT It was special, because I was able to work with other child actors.
WEBB And we had an amazing teacher. He really made school fun and made the most of our time learning. [And during that two-week period before shooting began,] we explored different things in New York City like the Empire State Building and the Oculus [at the World Trade Center]. That was my first time in New York. That really helped us bond, so on the first day of shooting we didn’t have to fake a friendship or anything.
REPEAT it was natural
likedyDo you connect with your characters?
WEBB Johnny and I have a lot in common. We both have a very close relationship with our grandmothers. We are artistic and creative. And Johnny, he’s a bit of a rebel. I’m not going to say that I am, but… Let’s just say that sometimes I like to have fun. (laughs.)
REPEAT I can relate to what Jaylin just said. Just by shooting this, I was able to play around and see how I could bring the words of the script to life and see what I could bring to the table when shooting these scenes. Paul can relate to that because he’s an artist and he has these big dreams and ideas.
the lineMisset in the early 1980s. Did you know anything about that time period?
WEBB I’ve only worked on period pieces, but I’ve never done the ’80s before. It’s like I stepped into a time machine: just the style, the fashion, the vibe, the way people dressed, the cars, everything. .
REPEAT None of this would have happened without Happy Massee, the production designer. He knew nothing of the time, apart from knowing that there was no internet. It’s like a different dimension.
You worked with some amazing actors. Was THIs there anything you learned from observing their process?
WEBB I had a particular scene with Jeremy [Strong], and just watching him work, was very, very respectful and inspiring, and I learned a lot that day. I think it will definitely help me in the future.
REPEAT I think I learned a lot from all of them. Before we started filming, I was able to walk with Annie [Hathaway] in the central Park. He told me about the poet Rumi and we learned a TikTok dance together. with anthony [Hopkins], he was able to walk on set with such authority and wisdom – he told James what to do. Jeremy has a unique acting style that I think is very special and independent. It’s great that he likes to stay in character, and that helped his co-stars become Johnny, Paul, Esther and Irving.
WEBB Jeremy has a lot of respect for his craft and I respect him for it.
We areand meAre you tempted to stay in character too?
REPEAT I’m not going to say that I felt like I wanted to do that, because it’s a completely different acting style than how I like to act. It is very special and unique. I guess you could say…it made me want to do the scene better.
WEBB I have never tried anything like this before. I love that he was so focused and that really inspired me to do the same. The energy, it was hitting me.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in a December standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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