best films of sxsw 2016

Or, “Why can’t he be normal?” Roy never says anything like that. 

Yeah. I think if parents are confronted with a homosexual child, for instance, it’s absurd to me that they could say, “I just wish you’d be normal.” It seems ridiculous to me, but parents do it all the time. Even if they know that homosexuality is genetic and it has nothing to do with a social choice, they still might secretly wish that their child hadn’t turned out that way.

In this particular instance, I think these parents, because of the situation, they don’t have even the mild luxury of saying, “Well, I wish he was normal.” They know he’s not, but they just need to know what he is, what he’s meant for so that they can help him, so they can keep him healthy, and safe, and happy—all the things that we want as parents.

So that belief system for them, their life is dominated not by: Is there a god? Their life is dominated by: What is my son? So they believe blindly that he is meant for something more than they understand.

The first hour of the film is surprisingly bleak. In the scene where Roy and Alton’s mother are holding hands and watching Alton, that’s as close as they are going to get to being a normal family — with Lucas cleaning his gun in the background.

Yeah. My wife never liked the line that Joel delivers in a hallway. Kirsten [Dunst] says, “Tuck the boy in.” And Joel is making his first kind of argument for, like, “Maybe we should take this kid to a doctor,” which Mike’s character doesn’t allow. And Kirsten agrees with Mike. And Joel says, “It’s a shame. I don’t know if there’s a way out of all of this for you all, but it’s a shame because you’d make a nice family otherwise.” My wife never liked that line, but I really liked it, because it’s true. It’s like if these people hadn’t been confronted with this situation, I think they were good people. I think they would have tried their best in the situations they found themselves in to love each other. And they aren’t allowed to do that.

Like you said, you made a very thorough outline. Some of the characters, like Lucas, reveal themselves over the course of the story. Say, in the case of Lucas, did you make any discoveries about who he was in the writing process? 

It develops at some point, but not so much on the script page. Definitely when you give a script to an actor, it’s like dropping a capsule in water and the fizzing starts. That’s when the thing starts to live and breathe. And Joel just fleshed out the parts of that guy that I really wanted.

Not that he ever would have done it, but you go to these studio meetings and they’re like, “Who do you guys want to have play Lucas?” I had a list of people and Joel was at the top of that list. They’re like, “What about Tom Hardy?” You’re like, “OK. That would be a much darker portrayal.” Tom Hardy is a great actor. He can do anything he wants. But what Joel brought was this likability. You want to be Joel’s friend. Just as a person you want to be Joel’s friend. That comes through in his acting as well.

Kind of what I wanted, it’s the same as what I was just saying about the family unit. If Joel wasn’t in this situation, he’d be having a beer and cooking a burger in his backyard and watching football and being a pretty normal, good guy.

I think, though, to go a little bit deeper into that and that character, I’ve got a friend that’s a police officer. They just see horrible shit all the time. Like that’s just their job is to go clean up horrible shit. I just imagine being a state trooper being out on the road coming across a wreck, nobody else involved, it’s a minivan. It blew a tire, flipped over. And he’s the first one on the site. He leans in there’s a family that’s been killed and he’s looking at them, and this is it. There’s no reason to it. There’s no justice in it. There’s no good in it. There’s no bad in it. This is just…this is it.

I think that would start to form a worldview. That would start to form a system of belief where you are confronted with this guy who is like, “My son is meant for something. He’s meant for something.” Lucas is like, “I don’t give a shit what you think your son is meant for. He can die right there on the grass. That can happen, because I know it can, because I’ve seen it.” That to me felt like an interesting kind of foil to throw into his mix, because you’ve got, from Joel’s point of view, a very right, a very rational mind.

But at every turn he is confronted with this crazy image of this boy. You know, light, and satellites, and all this other stuff. And so, Joel is kind of the audience from that perspective. He is constantly having to debate with his own rational mind about continuing along this journey.

Continue Reading ‘Midnight Special’ Jeff Nichols Interview >>

Cool Posts From Around the Web: