A visit from the stars of Good Boys is enough to turn any interviewer into a blushing grandparent. These young men are so sweet, so sincere, so well-mannered. Twelve-and-a-half-year-old Jacob Tremblay shakes your hand, looks you in the eye, and says “Hi, I’m Jacob,” like he’s not a two-time nominee (and onetime winner) at the Critics Choice Awards. Twelve-year-old Keith L. Williams politely restates each question before answering. Thirteen-year-old Brady Noon sips on a glass of milk. Each boy is a real credit to their actual parents, who are also here. (In a fun turnaround, it’s mostly the adults who spend the whole conversation fiddling on their phones.)
The premise of Good Boys is simple: What if a teenage sex comedy, but with sixth-graders? Noon, Tremblay, and Williams play a trio of friends who know to say “fuck,” but are still not quite sure what it means, and the mere prospect of kissing a girl make them very excited, and very, very scared. With their first spin-the-bottle party looming, the tweens embark on a series of hijinks that begins with a broken drone and expands to include sex toys, blow-up dolls, college girls on molly, dislocated limbs, a frat-house shoot-’em-up, and one desperate sprint across a highway. (Seth Rogen, who knows a few things about youthful misadventures, is a producer.) On the eve of the film’s release, the boys and their assorted family members, publicists, and managers stopped by the Vulture offices to discuss their favorite scenes, their biggest fears, and lots of Canadian mountains.
What’s the most dangerous thing you guys have done in real life?
Jacob Tremblay: I remember I almost fell off a really steep cliff when I was snowboarding. It was from like 20 meters.
Brady Noon: Meters, that’s metric system. What’s that in feet?
It’s like 65 feet.
Jacob: Actually, no, not 65 feet. I meant to say 20 feet.
That’s more manageable. You’re still alive.
Brady: Mine was when I was in Vancouver around one of our last days of shooting. Me and my mother went ziplining over a 600-foot gap. It was straight across for like a quarter of a mile, and I almost got stuck in the middle because I didn’t weigh enough to push myself up. I had to like, wiggle. It was beautiful, but it was dangerous too. If you fell off, you would die.
I’m glad you didn’t.
Keith L. Williams: I did the Grouse Grind in Canada. It’s a really steep mountain that you hike up, with staircases and everything. I almost slipped five times.
Brady: Jacob is the mountain expert. He knows, like, every mountain in Canada.
How did you come by this knowledge?
Jacob: I have this app called Google Earth and I like to visit Mount Everest and mountains like that. I think they look cool. Whenever I look at a mountain, I always imagine what it would look like skiing down it.
Which one of you three would you say is the bravest?
Jacob: Probably Brady.
Brady: It’s easily Jacob. He’s a skier, and he goes on gigantic mountains. I’ll be sitting on the bunny hill, wiping out; he’s doing black diamond mountains.
Jacob: I don’t do black diamonds just yet. I can kind of do black diamond on snowboard, but not skis yet.
Brady: Jacob’s definitely the daredevil. You ziplined across the jungle gym where we were playing hide-and-seek tag! You’re the bravest.
Jacob, why do you say Brady?
Jacob: He’s, like, fearless.
Brady: I’ll do stuff, but I would never go down a black diamond on anything. I just … no.
What would each of you say is your biggest fear?
Keith: My biggest fear is … death. Not for me, but for anybody that I care about.
Jacob: I can relate to Keith’s a bit. And also, like, demons. Curses and demons possessing things. It’s scary, I don’t like it at all.
Brady: I’m scared of drowning. I’m a decent swimmer, but imagining myself not being able to reach the air is just so scary to me. No one can hear you screaming for help or anything from the water.
Jacob: That is horrifying.
Keith: I’m also scared of somebody punching me in the throat, breaking my collarbone, or breaking my neck. Any time somebody touches my neck I just … ugh.
When I was your age, the girl whose locker was next to mine accidentally dropped her binder on my neck.
Keith: Oh my god! That’s the type of stuff I think about!
What was you guys’ favorite scene in the movie?
Jacob: My favorite scene would be the paintball scene because we kind of did it in one shot, almost. Everyone was dodging, running under the tables, and the pots and plates were smashing everywhere! And I remember when I was preparing for that, I watched that one scene from the first Matrix, when Neo is shooting the guns and doing the slow-motion flips. You can tell I’m harnessing Keanu Reeves in that one scene.
Brady: Mine was definitely the paintball scene as well, ’cause I got to break a board over someone’s back. And it was cool, ’cause, like, I got to break a board over someone’s back.
When you were flipping the frat boys, Keith, was that you or was it a stuntman?
Keith: Oh yeah, that wasn’t me.
Jacob: That wasn’t you?
Keith: Uh, it was actually a female.
Keith: Yeah, I had a female double. Her name was Maya. You don’t know who she is?
Brady: No, I thought that was you on set!
You had a female double? How old was she?
Keith: She was actually 27. She was also the one who ran into the truck.
Did she have to get your haircut in the movie?
Keith: No, she wore a wig. She had a head full of hair under that wig.
What part of this movie made your parents most nervous?
Jacob: Maybe the kissing, ’cause I probably didn’t want to do it more than my parents didn’t want to do it. My parents were like, “It’s gonna be so cute and adorable.” I was like, “I don’t wanna do it at all!” I was scared. I was dreading it the whole shoot pretty much.
Brady: I don’t know …
Brady’s mom: The cursing.
Brady: There are two words in particular my mom doesn’t like. She’d always be like, “Oh God no, just change that.”
Keith: I had approval, so my mom wasn’t really scared of anything. She was like, “I let him do this, so …”
Keith’s mom: It was the scene when you had to run into the Dumpster.
Keith: Oh no, you said it was the gag-ball scene!
[Keith’s mom laughs nervously.]
Luckily, Keith, you play the most well-behaved character.
Brady: We call him the dad. He’s like our conscience.
Jacob: Keith is really responsible in real life.
Brady: Definitely. For being the youngest, he’s really mature.
How did you become so mature at such a young age?
Keith: I don’t know. Probably because my mom promised me a phone if I was mature. And I tried being mature. And my little brother reminded me all the time, “Keith, you’re not being mature.” He says match-yure.
Is it weird seeing this movie now, a year after you shot it? At your age, a year feels like such a big part of your life.
Brady: We all hung out and we watched our interviews from the set.
Keith: Our voices were so high.
Brady: Even our appearances. Everyone got taller. Keith definitely slimmed out. He looks better now.
[Various adults in the room chuckle incredulously.]
Brady: It’s a compliment!
Keith: That’s true, actually. I say that all the time.
Brady: Keith’s a baller now.
Jacob: I will look back at my younger self and I’ll be like, “Ugh, he was so cringy!”
Keith: Jacob still looks the exact same as he did when he was in Room. Your face doesn’t change.
Brady: We watched the behind-the-scenes videos, and we saw us like, flossing, and shooting, and hitting the dab.
Wait, are those not cool anymore?
Keith: No. Not at all.
That’s good to know.
Keith: He’s like, “I did those yesterday.”