Much like it says in the title, Hot Summer Nights, at its core, is a good ol’ summer flick that manages to weave complex and compelling character dynamics with the tone of a 90s flick that’s one hell of a time.
Hot Summer Nights is a coming-of-age story set in the 1990s Cape Cod, where two guys get involved in some pretty serious trouble involving drugs. It’s a story that preaches the power of friendship, love, lust, family, and understanding. Not to mention it really embraces its roots in delivering a story that’s downright fun.
“I wanted this so much, the second I read the script,” said Alex Roe. “I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to get a role this badly. It was the way that the script was written. And Elijah, he’s got a really amazing way of describing places and describing characters. The in between moments, between the dialogue and the characters that you see on screen. It really is, it paints the picture in your head, on first read. We’re reading scripts all the time so when one pops, it’s really amazing. So when I read it, obviously the character is an amazing character, too. I think any actor would like to play this character. So, I fought tooth and nail to play this character and I’m really glad that I did it.”
Roe plays Hunter Strawberry, the town’s resident bad boy with the tragic good looks to match his tragic backstory. Throughout the film, viewers get to watch him evolve past the façade that he hides behind.
“He’s a slow burner and has the layers that are uncovered and that you find out not all is at it seems,” Roe told us. “There’s some depths to him that was really cool to play as an actor, to peel open those layers.”
Hot Summer Nights revolves around the unlikely partnership between Cape Cod transplant Daniel (Timothee Chalamet) and resident bad boy, Hunter, as they team-up to become the Cape’s go-to drug suppliers. The partnership works so well because of how different Hunter and Daniel are. And underneath the partnership exists a deep-rooted friendship that opens both characters up in a unique way.
“I think they’ve got an amazing chemistry with each other, off the bat,” Roe said. “Hunter’s kind of the muscle of the situation and Daniel’s the brains of the operation. So they both kind of understand what their roles are. And I think that they effect each others lives forever, basically. And Hunter opens Daniel up to a side of himself he didn’t realize existed. Daniel opens Hunter up in some ways. They are quite polar opposites. but sometimes opposites attract and theyre quite a cool duo. I enjoyed their relationship.”
The amazing thing about Hot Summer Nights are the varying relationships that define this story, for Hunter and Daniel alike. There are so many great character dynamics that continue to peel back the layers and help you understand these characters, including Hunter, so much better.
Another relationship that really opens Hunter up is his romance with the town’s girl-next-door, Amy. The daughter of a cop, Amy initially is immune to Hunter’s charms, but she soon finds herself opening up to him and finding a way to open him up. For Hunter, it’s a game-changing relationship that forces him to examine himself in a different way.
“She causes him to do a bit of a 180, really,” Roe said. “I think she is the daughter of the town sheriff. And yeah, she’s pretty straight laced. But he sees something in her that other people don’t see. And she sees something in him that other people don’t see. She like allows him to open up a little more, become a little more vulnerable and want to change in some way. And I think that makes this story all the more, not to spoil anything, but it makes for more drama.”
But perhaps one of my favorite dynamics in the film stems from the estranged brother/sister dynamic with Hunter and Makayla, who also happens to be dating Hunter’s BFF Daniel, which naturally stirs the pot.
Roe said that, essentially, it’s Hunter’s relationship with Makayla that really drives most of the things that Hunter does – good or bad. And while their relationship might be estranged, there’s no denying the love between the two and the hard work that would have to go into rebuilding that relationship.
“I think he loves his sister above everything,” Roe said. “I think that’s what causes him to be incredibly overprotective. And I think both of them losing their mom at a young age and having an alcoholic father, I think it gives them a lot to deal with at their young ages. For me, when I was acting it, that relationship was a big drive, for sure.”
It’s those three relationships – with Daniel, with Amy, and with Makayla – that help flesh out Hunter’s character. But there is also a lot of baggage that comes with Hunter, which stems from his upbringing and what life has thrown his way.
“I think that in the place that he’s from, the parents that he has, his existence as a townie, and seeing these summer birds roll in and be his mates, deal weed to them and whatever, and they go off to their colleges and completely different lives,” Roe said. “They just come to enjoy his home town for a little while and then they leave. I think he doesn’t have the same opportunities as some of those guys do. He doesn’t have, or at least doesn’t feel as if he does, that he doesn’t believe that she’s smart enough. He believes that she’s had to do whatever needs to be done to survive. And he’s definitely street smart. He’s not book smart. And yeah, I think that it’s quite a big question, ‘Why does he foresee that in the future?’ I don’t think he fully knows. I think all of those things play a part in why he is kind of resigned to this ending, almost want it in some way.”
Why should people see Hot Summer Nights?
“I think people should see Hot Summer Nights because it’s a movie that I’m incredibly excited about,” Roe said. “I would want all of my mates to go and see this. And any of my fans to go and see this too. I think it’s an amazing coming of age story. I think it talks about so much stuff; as far as friendships, relationships, love, lust, and characters not being what they seem. And all set in this amazing 90’s Cape Cod setting with some of the best and upcoming young talent.”
Hot Summer Nights hits theaters July 27.