By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 30, 2011 at 8:28AM
Lionsgate purposely opted to take an under-the-radar approach with Gavin O'Connor's Warrior, an original drama (a rarity these days) that pits two brothers against each other in an MMA tournament. Commendably, Lionsgate financed this $25-million picture starring two on-the-rise stars: Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, as well as Nick Nolte as the father they both hate. While the movie is strong enough to warrant festival inclusion, Lionsgate's strategy isn't off-base--the movie will prove a discovery for many critics; expect raves.
The trailer should wow plenty of males. But if the studio can lure women who can take the violent pummeling, they may respond to the heartfelt family drama. All three actors are superb, and veteran Nolte could land a supporting actor Oscar nomination (it would be his third; he was nominated for best actor in Affliction and The Prince of Tides) . His pain is as naked as Mickey Rourke's in The Wrestler. I interview Hardy, Edgerton and writer-director O'Connor (Pride and Glory, Miracle) below. Whether Lionsgate encouraged him or not, O'Connor's year-long stint in the editing room helped the film, which is as lean, mean and vulnerable as its two belligerent anti-heroes.
Lionsgate is also looking to boost advance word-of-mouth via sneak previews of Warrior across the country on September 4, prior to the film's September 9 release. Advance tickets for 7 pm screenings can be purchased here, and you also follow on Twitter with #WARRIORMovieSneakPreview.
Inside Hollywood, Hardy broke out with passed-around screeners of Nicolas Winding Refn's Bronson, which revealed an extraordinary actor. Casting agents took notice, and he landed back-to-back roles in Christopher Nolan's Inception and The Dark Knight Rises as well as fest offering Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and the upcoming Mad Max sequel Fury Road. But none of this had happened when O'Connor convinced Lionsgate to put him in Warrior, nor had Australian theater actor Edgerton earned raves in Animal Kingdom. Back in Sydney he starred as Stanley opposite Cate Blanchett in her production of Streetcar Named Desire, actually smashing her in the face with a radio during one intense scene, stopping the show for one night. Now he has landed the prize role of Tom Buchanan in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby opposite Leonardo DiCaprio.
Hardy Part 1
Hardy Part 2
Edgerton Part 1
Edgerton Part 2
O'Connor Part 1
O'Connor Part 2