A version of story first appeared in the June 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Nick Robinson wasn’t alive yet when Steven Spielberg‘s Jurassic Park hit theaters in 1993. But now the young actor (he booked ABC Family’s Melissa & Joey in 2009 and won acclaim for the 2013 Sundance hit The Kings of Summer) is growing up in a big way, starring in Jurassic World (June 12) with Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, Sony’s YA adaptation The 5th Wave (Jan. 15) and Rob Reiner‘s next film, Being Charlie.
What memories do you have of the original Jurassic Park film?
I’ve got memories of sitting in a lake house with my family in Washington. It was one of the only movies we had in the cabin. And I rewatched it once I started prepping for the role. It’s great filmmaking.
Jurassic World is by far your biggest film. What was shooting like?
Most of the dinosaurs were either tennis balls or lightbulbs on sticks held by a very sweaty grip. But it was really helpful that we had beautiful locations. We did all our jungle stuff in Hawaii and it was breathtaking. And in New Orleans, there were practical sets built to scale, so that really helped when you’re dealing with tennis balls.
Did you meet Spielberg?
I did, and I geeked out a little bit. I didn’t know what to say. The dude has had his hand in everything.
You began acting at age 9. How did you get your start?
I grew up [in Seattle] being outside a lot and you’d pick up a stick and it could become anything. I had a great imagination. And we had a big collection of VHS [tapes], so I’d watch all these movies. I picked it up as I went along. Plus, I was not good at baseball or anything like that, so when I had to get out of the house, I went to act.
Do you have a secret talent?
I can make a really good omelet.
What has been your biggest adjustment to working in Hollywood films?
I think the biggest challenge is sometimes it can be hard to really get to know yourself because there’s a lot of background noise. It’s a strange thing to navigate. I still have a lot to learn. I dread that day when you don’t realize you’re being an asshole. It’s scary. (Laughs.)
What do you want to do next in your career?
I’m looking for something a little bit smaller, and I’d like to go back on the festival circuit. I feel like I can’t do any more franchises. There’s got to be some kind of rule about that right? I’m open to whatever comes my way; I’m figuring it out as I go along.
Big break: 2013 Sundance hit The Kings of Summer
Reps: UTA, Savage Agency, Principato Young, Felker Toczek