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Hillcoat Talks The Road

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 19, 2009 at 9:23AM

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.
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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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This article is related to: Genres, Independents, Video, Drama, Weinsteins, Interviews


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.