Hillcoat Talks The Road

by Anne Thompson
November 19, 2009 9:23 AM
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Thompson on Hollywood
It's been a long haul for the film adaptation of the 2006 Cormac McCarthy bestseller The Road, which producer Nick Wechsler acquired before it was published. With backing from 2929 Entertainment and distributor The Weinstein Co., he approached Australian director John Hillcoat after he had made the much-admired 2005 western The Proposition, a stylishly gritty take on the genre written by Nick Cave and starring Guy Pearce and Danny Huston as estranged brothers.

For his part, actor Viggo Mortensen was anxious about the naked exposure the movie would require: the man and his boy are on their own in a world stripped of all life but for roaming bands of violent human scavengers many of whom resort to cannibalism to survive. Mortensen was also worried about finding a child actor capable of carrying it off. But Kodi Smit-McPhee fit the bill. (Here's my video Mortensen interview.)

After a rigorous shoot which was delayed by weather around Mt. St. Helens, the movie went through a lengthy edit. Hillcoat reluctantly submitted himself to the preview process, showed the film to many filmmakers and friends, took input and notes from the Weinsteins, and finally worked his way through to something everyone was reasonably happy with, including McCarthy. While certain things wound up on the cutting room floor--deemed too tough for audiences to handle on the big screen --the novelist said he liked the film and asked only that four lines from the novel be reinstated.

The four parts of my Hillcoat interview from Telluride are on the jump:


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