Every so often a film comes out of no where to knock peoples socks off. This year it’s the thinking man’s revenge flick, Blue Ruin that is getting critics heads nodding in approval. From it’s inauspicious start as a Kickstarter project all the way to it’s eventual release on VOD, Blue Ruin has been getting rave reviews, for daring to be different. One of the reasons it has picked up so many accolades is Macon Blair’s performance as quiet, scared, every man Dwight, an ordinary guy looking to exact revenge on the people who killed his parents.
I recently enquired whether I could shoot some questions at Macon, to which he generously agreed. So, for our Q&A, please see below. Please also read my review of Blue Ruin here. It really is a must see film and is in theatres, on VOD and on iTunes now.
Q. For the uninitiated, explain the premise of Blue Ruin.
A. It’s a revenge story about a homeless man who returns to his home town to carry out an act of vengeance but it turns out he’s fairly inept at the job. Mayhem and tragedy ensues.
Q. I understand yourself and the director Jeremy Saulnier go way back, and used to make movies as kids. Is this where the seeds of Blue Ruin were formed?
A. Blue Ruin sprang from an idea Jeremy had about a mysterious beach bum character but, yes, he and I and several other guys we grew up with had been trying to get another movie made for years and this was our last ditch effort to either break into the industry or quietly retire. The script was largely born out of practicality: Jeremy wrote around our available resources, locations and cars and things like that we could get for free. We knew we probably wouldn’t have outside funding so we needed to keep it cheap but, hopefully, not cheap-looking.
Q. Were there any films in particular that informed the look and feel of Blue Ruin?
A. It was pitched as ”No Country For Old Men’ with an idiot at the helm.’ The Coen’s overall style and approach to genres was an influence. Also early Michael Mann films, ‘Thief’ in particular. Procedural detail and atmosphere.
Q. The film is a revenge thriller with a difference, it subverts what we usually expect from that type of film. Your character, Dwight, isn’t a gung-ho all action hero like we usually see. Were you more comfortable playing an ordinary guy, or were you secretly hoping Jeremy would make you a ‘Charles Bronson in Death Wish’ type character?!
A. Not at all, I told him there was no way that I could ever be credible as a Charles Bronson type. What a terrible movie that would be. Laughable. No, that was the whole point: he knew I was going to be the lead so the character was based around the idea that I SHOULD NOT be a classic movie tough guy. Dwight has turned up in the wrong kind of movie for him.
Q. There is some fairly brutal violence within the film. What is it like to film that kind of stuff? It has to be quite disconcerting to look down at your leg and see an arrow head sticking out?!
A. It was delightful. We all grew up trying to do our own special effects and pyro and stunts. That’s what got us into moviemaking in the first place. So all of that was a fun, welcome return to our roots. It was disconcerting to have long, dialogue-driven, emotional acting scenes. But an arrow in the leg? That’s a treat.
Q. Blue Ruin appeared, and won an award, at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Did you attend, and if so, how was that experience?!
A. I did. It was extremely surreal. We spent so much time and energy and effort on the movie, hoping an audience would enjoy it…but then when they actually did seem to enjoy it, I was kind of shocked. In a good way, but still. We felt very grateful, very excited, but wildly out of our element.
Q. The film was partly funded by Kickstarter. There has been a lot of press, good and bad, about Kickstarter and movie making. What is your stance? Would the film have had a chance of being made without it?
A. It absolutely would not have been made. It was literally a kickstart for the film. Jeremy and Skei (his wife and the executive producer) had spent every penny they had and ran up a really dangerous amount of credit card debt, but we still needed a certain amount of cash to pay the crew. Kickstarter bridged that gap for us. No Kickstarter cash = no crew = no movie. We were hesitant about doing the campaign at first–asking for money from strangers feels uncomfortable. But it forced Jeremy to really articulate what he was trying to do here. People heard his pitch and could decide on their own if it was something they might want to see. It was their choice. I think it’s a great platform, in that it allows projects that might be more outside of the mainstream to see the light of day. It’s up to the people, they can decide what they want to support or not, it’s democratized. And asking for twenty bucks from many people often makes more sense than asking for a million bucks from one.
Q. Acting wise, who are your big influences?
A. Animal, from The Muppets.
Q. The beard was pretty impressive, was that a relief or a sad day when that came off?!
A. We had a shaving party. It was a giant relief.
A. Unsure right now. Reading scripts, writing scripts, auditioning, developing other projects with Jeremy, developing other projects with other people. Hoping I don’t screw up the opportunity I’ve been given, mainly.
Q. What three movies could you happily watch again and again?
A. Sherman’s March. To Live And Die In L.A. Frankenstein.
Thanks so much, Tom! Appreciate it!