‘Lawless’ director John Hillcoat talks about Nick Cave, on-set fights, and Guy Pearce’s hair
Photo: The Wenstein Company
John Hillcoat's breakout movie "The Proposition" was a gritty Western set in the Australian outback written by postpunk legend and Bad Seed Nick Cave. The movie was a critical hit, and soon Hollywood came knocking. His follow-up movie was the screen adaptation of Cormac MacCarthy's bleak masterpiece "The Road," starring Viggo Mortensen.
Hillcoat's latest movie "Lawless," again penned by Cave, is a two-fisted gangster tale set in the backwoods of Virginia during Prohibition. The movie is based on the true-life bootlegging exploits of the Bondurant brothers as detailed in bestselling book "The Wettest County in the World" and stars Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf, and Jessica Chastain. While the movie features the requisite amount of violence, fisticuffs, and manly comradery — Hardy somehow manages to make a cardigan sweater look badass -- "Lawless" is also striking for the depth and strength of its female characters, a rarity in the gangster genre. Jessica Chastain, as always, is particularly good as Maggie, an ex-dancer who sees through Hardy's character's flinty exterior. But the real standout of the movie is Guy Pearce who plays Charlie Rakes, a corrupt sheriff/dandy sociopath who loves flamboyant suits, fine cologne, and sadism. There have been few villains in recent years more fun to root against than Rakes.
The movie's distributor, the Weinstein Company, has high hopes for this movie come Oscar season, and given its track record, it might very well get some. My bet would be on Pearce for best supporting actor.
I had a chance to talk to John Hillcoat recently. He speaks in a very careful, measured manner as if weighing each of his words, though when the conversation turned to Cave, he became very animated, talking about him with obvious affection. We discussed Cave's contribution to the movie, a rumored fistfight between Hardy and LaBeouf, and the Guy Pearce's hair.
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Jonathan Crow: I very much enjoyed the film. It's a lot of fun. How did you get attached to it?
Director John Hillcoat (Photo by Samir Hussien/Getty Images)
I love genre films, but I like to try and find something fresh about them. Movies about Prohibition are always set in Chicago city or Atlantic City or some city. I haven't really seen what was going on behind the scenes in the backwoods.