Colin Hanks’ new film chronicles Eagles of Death Metal’s return to Paris after deadly attacks

By Kate Murphy

On Nov. 13, 2015, terrorist attacks around the city of Paris claimed the lives of 130 people, 89 of them at the Eagles of Death Metal rock concert at the Bataclan Theatre. Just three months later, the band returned to the city to perform once again. The new HBO documentary Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends) chronicles the experiences of the American rock band before and after that tragic night and examines the deep bond between the band’s co-founders, Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme, who is also a member of Queens of the Stone Age.

The film’s director, Colin Hanks, spoke to Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric about this emotional and intense documentary, which debuts on HBO on Feb. 13.

Hanks, who was at work filming the CBS show “Life in Pieces” on the day of the attacks, recalled when he first learned about the tragic events in Paris.

“For whatever reason that day, I was in my trailer, and they weren’t calling my name yet. And normally we shoot pretty quick.” He went on to say, “All of a sudden, I saw a bunch of stuff on social media saying an attack had happened in Paris.”

Hanks knew that the Eagles of Death Metal, a band that he had met while filming his first documentary, All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records, was performing in Paris, and he reached out to the band’s manager to find out what was going on. “It’s unfortunately become an all-too-common occurrence, hearing about attacks like this, but you’re never prepared when it’s your friends that are directly involved,” he told Couric.

The film unfolds the events of that tragic night, weaving the intense accounts of band members with those of devoted fans who survived the attacks. The intimate look at these harrowing moments and the heartbreaking aftermath reveals a raw and challenging journey, particularly for the band’s front man, Jesse Hughes. Upon returning to Paris to perform once again, Hughes sat down with the French news channel, iTELE, and said, “I haven’t had any nightmares, and I’ve slept fine, but when I’m awake is when I see things that are nightmares.”

The attacks in Paris heightened fears that Muslim extremists could carry out similar attacks elsewhere, including in the United States. On Friday, Jan. 27, President Trump signed an executive order implementing a temporary immigration ban, sparking protests with many citizens and activists declaring the action to be, in effect, a “Muslim ban.”

Asked about his reaction to Trump’s executive order, Hanks said, “America was built by immigrants. It was built by hard-working people trying to escape dire circumstances, and I would say that we already have rather extreme measures in place to make sure the people who are trying to hurt us can’t get here. We didn’t do this after 9-11, so I don’t quite understand why we’re doing it now.”

The actress Meryl Streep recently spoke out against President Trump’s character at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony, specifically calling him out for making fun of a disabled reporter. Couric asked Hanks whether or not he believes Hollywood should speak out on the president. “I would never tell someone that they can’t express themselves or give their political opinion based on anything,” he responded, “So if an actor or whomever has an opportunity to say something, I think well, this is the United States of America, they’re allowed to do it.”

Related: Colin Hanks on speculation surrounding Season 3 of ‘Fargo’ and on the cast of ‘Life in Pieces’: ‘We love what we do’