EXCLUSIVE: The U.S. may have a few more weeks to wait before “Calvary” opens on August 1st (our review is here meantime), but we were lucky enough to get to meet the director, John Michael McDonagh, of “The Guard” and “brother of playwright and director Martin” fame, at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. A lot of what we chatted about was more germane to “Calvary” and so we’ll save that up for a date closer to August, but McDonagh was also extremely forthcoming about the other projects on his horizon, and included a little bit of new casting information for his next directorial outing “War On Everyone.”
As reported earlier this year, Michael Pena and Garret Hedlund are attached, and the film will be “shot hopefully in Texas or New Mexico, about two corrupt cops who go around blackmailing criminals and ripping them off. And they eventually cross a criminal who’s more dangerous than they are...or is he? So it’s 'The French Connection' but with more jokes,” explained McDonagh.
However, last we’d heard the part of the villain was up for grabs, with McDonagh reportedly looking for a British actor to play the role. But when we asked about that, it seems he may have slightly shifted the goalposts there:
“I haven’t actually cast it yet…” he said, “But it’s funny—I’m not a big fan of actors who do accents, I always think you should get the nationality, if it’s British get a British guy. But there are some actors who’ve got a great facility for accents, and so actually I’ve been talking to Guy Pearce. I’ve found a lot of Australian actors have a great facility for both English and American accents, whereas a lot of English actors doing American accents, it just sounds odd.”
“Australians though,” he continued, “I guess that’s why they can be so successful in Hollywood, people like Chris Hemsworth… So yeah, talking to Guy Pearce. The villain is basically a completely degenerate Lord who takes heroin and sets up robberies, but then he turns out to be a lot darker than we thought and it goes into a very dark area towards the end of the movie. So that would be tonally a trick line to walk.”
No stranger to tricky tonal lines, McDonagh tapping Pearce for the role certainly piques our interest: we’re fans of the actor, and are always glad to see his name in the mix on promising projects. But whether the casting comes about or not, “War on Everyone” will be something new for McDonagh, who is curious to work outside Ireland for the first time. “I want to experience making a movie in another country, seeing what the crews are like, seeing what the actors are like, and it could be that it’s disastrous, who knows. But I think you should push yourself into a more uncomfortable situation."
His brother Martin, after the success of "In Bruges," came stateside with “Seven Psychopaths,” and though that film was rather unfairly maligned, perhaps the older John Michael will have more luck. Certainly, the caliber of the idiosyncratic cast he’s attracted promises something unusual and if Pearce is added to that mix, all the better.
One frequent collaborator we won’t see this time out, however? “The Guard” and “Calvary” star and Irish national treasure Brendan Gleeson. McDonagh is planning a third film in self-dubbed “Glorified Suicide” trilogy which will star Gleeson, but for right now they’re taking a short breather from each other. “I don’t want Brendan to get too reliant on me writing great scripts just for him,” deadpanned McDonagh. “I want him to go away and work on a couple of bad movies and then come back begging me to do the final part of the trilogy.”
We’ll have more from our Karlovy Vary interview with McDonagh soon.