Lawless: Starring Tom Hardy
Lawless, John Hillcoat’s Western-Gangster opnes August 29, 2012
Shia LaBeouf had been looking for opportunities to work with acclaimed English actor Tom Hardy. The two had struck up a friendship after LaBeouf sent Hardy a fan email about his arresting performance in the crime biopic BRONSON, and had begun forwarding scripts back and forth to one another. LaBeouf sent Bondurant’s novel to Hardy, followed by Cave’s screenplay. Hardy loved them both, and proved to be ideal casting for the role of quiet, fearless and fearsome Forrest Bondurant.
Director John Hillcoat was also keen to work with Hardy, whose reputation as an exceptional talent preceded him. “I kept hearing about this incredible guy called Tom Hardy. I started watching his work, and I was awestruck – he was amazing. I could also see Tom and Shia as brothers. And Tom’s take on the character was quite audacious – he saw Forrest as the matriarch and the patriarch of the family, in the wake of their parents’ deaths. He wanted to explore Forrest’s softer side and play him in a quiet, contained way. By taking on the roles of the mother and the father of this family, he was really responsible and very caring, especially towards his brothers. But because of the time and the culture, he is unable to articulate it. Tom’s approach was very much about the different emotional textures there were to Forrest and how distilled and controlled he was. It was a unique and fascinating attitude towards the character,” Hillcoat notes.
With LaBeouf and Hardy in place, the casting process steamed forward. Attracting financing, however, was proving to be a struggle, says producer Lucy Fisher “Our material was intrinsically original and idiosyncratic. It was a portrait of three brothers, violent outlaws with fierce family ties; at the same time, it was lyrical and romantic. It didn’t fall into any easy category.”
In the end, it take two years of dedicated work before Red Wagon found the creative, enthusiastic production support they were looking for. In 2011, Annapurna Pictures, a new production company headed by Megan Ellison, and Benaroya Pictures, headed by Michael Benaroya, signed on to finance LAWLESS and produce with Wick and Fisher.
Finding the right combination of actors had been a complicated and lengthy process, but Hillcoat, Fisher, and Wick agree that each of the actors who would ultimately bring the Bondurant tale to life was the perfect artist for the job.
“It’s a weird thing about films; it’s almost like alchemy,” Hillcoat muses. “You’re playing around with all these ingredients and sometimes there’s this combination that finally comes together that’s the perfect one. There were earlier combinations that would have made a different film and would have been amazing and special too, I’m sure. But I do feel like we found the ideal group in the end. It’s tricky with an ensemble because it’s a real balancing act so as soon as one person drops out, it may not be just a matter of replacing them. It’s the combination of people, how they work against the different energies and qualities that they have.”
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