In addition to Verbinski, you’ve had the chance to work with some really great directors these past couple of years. David Fincher, Clint Eastwood, Tarsem Singh… did you ever notice any kind of through-lines in between the way that they work? Do you see connections between them?
Yeah, but what I’m paying attention to, more than anything else, are the differences. What does this guy do differently and how does that make his movies end up differently? So, he does it like this. How does that affect what happens on the screen? It’s like film school, it’s essentially like I’m just in the most fun film school in the world.
What did Gore Verbinski introduce new that you hadn’t seen on previous sets?
Gore does all of his own storyboarding and he draws it out super, super simply, like literally just stick figures, to the point where no one knows at all what is going on on the story boards. It just looks like a bunch of scribble.
As long as he gets it.
It’s like a Rorschach test. I mean, I think, “What’s going on there, with the chicken?” and then you’ll do this shot and you’ll do this scene and he’ll take a still out of it and put it right over the story board and it’s like, you’ll lift and go, “Oh...that’s the guy. That’s the... Well, that’s perfect,” and it always worked out perfectly. So, that’s, you know, I don’t know if I’ll have the ability to do that, but he made it look easy.
A couple weeks ago there was a featurette that came online about you on the spirit platform and it, you looked fairly terrified…which is completely understandable.
I was fairly terrified.
At the same time, though, this is a very action heavy role for you, and we see you pull off a lot stunts in this movie. What would you say was the most challenging day on set?
There were a couple night shoots, that we would just shoot all night, but in a river, like freezing our asses off, all night, nowhere to get warm, because it’s like you get out and you just get colder. There’s no sun and you’re just cold.
In the middle of the desert.
In the middle of nowhere, Utah. That was hard. Being dragged behind the horse probably, bring dragged behind the horse was probably like the moment where I came the closest to being like, “I’m out. Someone else do this. I’m done.”
Were you fighting to do your own stunts? Is most of it is you versus using a stunt double?
I think everybody was fighting for me to do it. I was. I know Gore was. I think it’s a big part of this movie. I think, you know, to have a big action sequence happen and not have a hand or the back of my head in the frame, you know, “Oh, this is really going on. This is happening.” It makes the audience feel like they’re in it and that they’re part of it more.
Just to kind of touch on the western genre in a more general sense - over the last century the popularity of the western has come in waves, but has long been a part of filmmaking history. What do you connect to in the western genre and what makes it such an important film tradition?
I mean, as an American, Westerns are a very specifically American form of storytelling, much like Bourbon has to be made in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Champagne has to be made in France. Whiskey you can make anywhere. Scotch you can, well Scotland, mostly, but I mean you’ve got Japanese scotch and stuff like that, and it’s ok, but Westerns have to take place in America. I mean, obviously you’ve got Spaghetti Westerns and Sergio Leone, I mean arguably one of the best Western directors wasn’t even American, but every one of his Western movies took place in America, because this was the last place where there was that most unclaimed open frontier, where you could just go and do whatever the piss you wanted to do, and it’s like, that thing of seeing the good guy wake up and do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do, and he’s got to feed his family. He’s got to fix that fence. He’s just got to do it. He doesn’t have a choice. That’s good, that’s like good American stock.
As you’ve learned, an extremely hard lifestyle.
The most difficult, I mean, I don’t know how they all made it. We’re lucky we’re all here.
It’s true. They could have all just died out there in the desert.
I’m surprised they didn’t.
Were you kind of a western kid? Were you kind of the kid who played with Western...?
Yeah, I did Indian Guides as a kid, which is kind of like Boy Scouts but with a more Native American slant to it, always outdoors, always playing outside.