jeremy saulnier interview

Macon Blair, who has been in all of your movies so far, is an incredible actor. I was told he originally wasn’t going to be in this and had to audition.

Yeah. I just didn’t know how to… I was with Macon through Blue Ruin and we got so tight and we were best friends. So with me knowing him in that role, I just couldn’t get [Blue Ruin protagonist] Dwight out of my head. I couldn’t shake that character. Macon has been a leading man in all of my movies. He’s sort of my muse. But I didn’t quite see where he fit in. He’s a fantastic actor, but sometimes even I need a little distance. I also have an aversion to the whole nepotistic automatic role-giving that people give actors. I didn’t think he’d fit in. But he just proved me wrong. He went out on his own and did a self-taped audition. He got in wardrobe and had to get some temporary tattoos made on the internet. He had to prove he was an actor because the company that made them didn’t want to do Nazi insignias. He had to convince them he was an actor and show them his IMDB page. He went all-in and gave a great read and won the role on his own. That’s why I love him. He doesn’t expect anything to be handed to him. I hope he forgives me for not initially thinking of him, but he won it fair and square. As soon as I see it, I’m not going to doubt it.

The role of Gabe is one of the underlings of Patrick Stewart’s Darcy and he’s the venue manager. So he’s trusting and he’s smart but he’s also a little bit reluctant with the ideology and the violence associated with this gang culture. So he has this deep humanity and vulnerability, but he was able to transform physically for us, too. He was just perfect. He was a huge asset, not only as an actor but he’s someone I loved having by my side throughout this process. This was my first time making a movie in a union world and it was a whole different set of rules and regulations and challenges. He helped me stay creative and make choices that were for the best for the story. He’s also a deep well of knowledge about movie trivia. I was a battering ram. I kind of broke through the industry having to be a jack of all trades. I write shoot, edit, direct, whatever I have to do. Macon has been amassing this amazing knowledge, so he’s my guy when I need to know who an actor is, because I don’t watch a lot of TV and I stopped watching movies because I had to get my own off the ground. We’re a great team.

When I watch this movie, I see a filmmaker who should be doing whatever the hell he wants. What’s next? Are offers coming in?

Oh, yeah. There are lots of offers. The key is to stay true, but not be governed by anything other than an intuitive attraction to stories. I’m considering some big studio movies, I’m considering these really amazing dark genre films, and a lot of them are on the cusp of becoming real and becoming produced. One of them might even shoot this summer, but I don’t want to jinx it. I know I want to take a break from writing and try to do some material that’s been generated by someone else just so I can focus on directing and practice my craft. I don’t want to wear too many hats and be spread too thin. I want to do one thing and do it really well. But I will always circle back to writing because I think writing is the most pure and joyful experience as far as creating stories go. There are no boundaries, there are no foreign sales estimates, there’s nothing that gets in your way. It’s really fun to problem solve. I just want to enjoy the fact that I do get opportunities and not be too precious and maybe take some chances and just keep rocking and rolling.

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