Hollywood stars

Interview with Ryder McLaughlin, North Hollywood stars, Nico Haraga Aramis Hudson

Today looks like a party. Out now on VOD is North Hollywood, the long-awaited feature debut from Mikey Alfred. The story behind how this movie got here is intriguing, and it was great to be able to check out the movie when it was released for limited release last month, but now that we’re here, we’re just glad the rest of the world can see it!

The premise of the film seems simple: it’s about a kid named Michael who dreams of becoming a professional skateboarder. We find him at odds with his father (played by Vince Vaughn) over the decision, and examine how he juggles a budding romance (with Miranda Cosgrove), as well as his relationship with his pals. Alfred enlisted Illegal Civ representatives Ryder McLaughlin (Mid 90s), Nico Haraga (Library), and Aramis Hudson to help execute his script, based on his own relationship with his father. Their bond as friends helped make this process a fun learning experience it seems, and after the trials and tribulations of the cast, it’s great to see the team did.

Complex recently caught up with McLaughlin, Haraga, and Hudson to talk about Hudson’s acclaimed performance, with McLaughlin putting the film on his back, helping execute Alfred’s vision, the audition process during quarantine, and more.

I was waiting for the moment to say “North Hollywood is finally out”, but I wonder, what was it like for you guys?
Ryder McLaughlin
: I’m glad it’s out. That’s really just the main thing; I’m glad it’s out in the world and other people can experience it. So I’m just happy.

Nico, you are probably one of the most experienced actors on the team. How has it been for you, going through what has been a crazy process and finally being able to come out the other side.
Nico Haraga
: That was cool, man. It was nice. I appreciated the feedback. It was really great. The thing is, I saw feedback from a lot of fans who were already big IC fans, and myself, Aramis, and Ryder. So it’s not a biased opinion, but if you already fuck with IC, then you’re gonna fuck with the movie, right? I’m curious to see what some guys in the crypto world would think about it. I’m curious to see feedback on this. I wonder if they would get it and resonate with it.

I feel you on this, but it also cracks me up. When I spoke with Mikey, we talked about the feedback he would get from distributors. I was always surprised that they thought it wouldn’t work for a wider audience. I feel like the story, at its core, is very relatable. There is a love story. There’s a guy on a mission and he’s trying to do this shit by any means necessary. I do not know. I feel like people should be able to relate to it if you had any kind of dream. Now Aramis, I recently read Mikey’s QG profile, and I’m glad they specifically called you a star in the movie. I’m glad someone said it, because I wanted to echo that. I really felt your performance, especially when the tension rises in the film. I was looking like, “This man is really hyped about what’s going on with Michael.” Do you hear a lot about your performance in the film?

Aramis Hudson: Yeah, actually, I met Vince Vaughn once, after the first little premiere we had, and he said I was his favorite character in the movie. Hearing that from him was crazy. And I was just… I’m not into any of that, so I don’t really know how to feel about things sometimes, but just to know what people think [that] not only can I skate, but they also respect me for doing other things, it’s crazy for me to hear that. I still don’t like to hear it, but it was like “Oh shit, I guess.”

How was it for you to be able to work alongside your mates who have that skill?
: Working with my friends felt natural at the end of the day. I knew these guys before Library and all that. It wasn’t really a crazy experience for me because I just felt comfortable in the situations, but to see him come out and now these guys are on TV shows and stuff. It’s like, “yeah, it was the homies, I worked with them.” I can always say that.

I loved the scenes in the movie where we just saw you skate. I imagine in other skateboarding movies you might have a few clips here or there but Ryder we see Michael doing lap after lap and some of those scenes seemed to be outs of GODSPEED, just to see the amount of work you were doing. Did it help make things easier for you on set to be able to have those moments of release and be able to relax doing what you normally do? Was that a big help for those days on set?
: Yeah. The only day I didn’t want to skate was the last day, the end of the film where it’s the big climax. It’s hard to skate, but all that park stuff and just the way it was filmed, it was so… It’s pretty. And it was as if someone from afar was watching the natural skaters in their habitat. Not fisheye, “it’s the clips, let’s get on the rail.” It’s just someone standing in the bush watching from afar. So yeah, it was great fun. Being with your friends makes everything so much better.

Image via Illegal Civ

Are there particular scenes or moments that people talk about specifically?
: No. I feel like it’s a lot of “Good job, I love the movie.”

Aramis: More specifically, they talk about our scene towards the end of the film. You and me, Ryder. That last scene between you and me was so powerful for some people. They really connected with it, because I think everyone in their lives had a fight with their friends at a time when they thought they weren’t going to be friends anymore.

And you, Nico?
Nico: Yeah, I would say that ending scene. I heard stuff about me throwing my butt.

Your ass was definitely out, man. Your ass was definitely out.
: (Laughs) It’s usually just the whole movie sequence.

I will say, Mikey did the damn thing I will say. You could say… I don’t mean, “he’s a young, up-and-coming Spike Lee,” because he’s himself, but you could see that this man has his own vision. The style.
: Yeah, he has a vision.

Ryder: We know exactly what you mean, and he always had that. Whether he draws, he has his own style of drawing. Whether he makes clothes, he has a very specific way of doing things. I think it was really important to him. When we went to the fittings and remembered that we went to the fittings, it was important for him to choose these clothes exactly as he wanted them.

There are also a lot of dope musical cues in the film. Was it stuff that was in the script? Did things in the script end up changing at the time of filming?
: He has definitely changed.

Nico: Yeah. I remember one time, me and Aram were like, “Man, does that sound good?” Like, “No, we’re not really fucking with that right now.” And Mikey would say, “Turn it on.” And we would light it. It gradually worked much better. He made it more grounded in who we are as a group of friends, because that’s really what it is. It’s not like we put on too much facade. Our roles were a little easier to play because it was us.

Aramis: A lot of these scripts… I wouldn’t say the script was new and 100% edited, but some days it looked good on paper, but when you see it in person, it was like, “Oh, it’s not cut this.” And sometimes we snowball; sometimes it works, [but[ he’d be like, “Oh yeah, say that. Switch that, but say that.” That’s how some of these scenes came about.

Ryder, I have to admit that I wasn’t prepared for how much of this film you had on your back. There’s a big transformation with Michael. How difficult was that? Do you have aspirations to be that leading man in a film in the future?

: Definitely. I think this was definitely like a big, big learning everything. I mean, everything’s always learning. You’re always learning. If you’re not learning, what are you doing? A lot of days it definitely seems like a lot of work, but literally going there every day having to… In Mid90s, I’m not in every scene. With North Hollywood, it’s every day I’m showing up to set. I’m in the scene from start of the day to end of the day. Nico and Aramis go home, I’m still…

Nico: Me and Aramis, our day is just starting when we get off work.

Ryder: It definitely was just a lot of learning.

'North Hollywood'
Image via Illegal Civ

It being a learning experience is probably the most important part for whatever future projects you guys have going on. Speaking of which, I know we’re still in quarantine, but we’re working our way towards getting out of it. Have you guys been doing any auditioning? Any future gigs you coming up?

: Well, I’ve just been doing self-tapings. That’s about it. Not too many places are letting people come in and go and try out. Hopefully that’ll change soon, though.

Ryder: Yeah. I like going in. The self-tapes or so…

Aramis: It feels so awkward.

Ryder: So weird.

Nico: I like the self-tapes; just throw yourself down on tape and be like, “OK, cool. Let me just send that in.”

Well, Nico, you also seem like a guy who kind of doesn’t give a shit either way, no disrespect, but I mean, you really just let it roll off your back, whatever the case is. (Laughs)

: Yeah, for sure. (Laughs) I keep it 100, for sure. I’ll be fine. So it’s just like, if I go into an audition, I’m not sucking up to anybody or anything. I’m just going in. I just got back from doing a project in London. I  went into that audition in a crop top and some crazy ‘fit. You just keep it 100. I think it works more…

Ryder: That’s what I’m saying though. You’re pulling up in the room. “Oh, hey, I’m Nico.” They know exactly who you are.

Aramis: It’s kind of weird. You just sit there and then you’ve got to act out to be this guy. When you walk into a room and people can see your [face], feel your presence and know what type of guy you are, a bit like your smell. It’s just better for me.

Ryder: I like it a lot more.

Before I let you go, I meant, because the three of you were in it, I probably ran back GODSPEED a few times on its first outing. I just loved it back and forth. Are there any other tapes coming out soon, something you can see from that side?
: I don’t know, but I think Ryder and I owe the world something.

Ryder: I haven’t skated for a long time.

Aramis: Me neither, so it would be perfect timing.

Nico: I haven’t skated in a while either, I’ve been injured and I’ve been to London, but [Davonte] Jolly is always working on something.

North Hollywood is streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, and wherever else there’s a good movie.