After finding much success with his 2005 film The Proposition, musician, songwriter, screenwriter, novelist and actor Nick Cave is teaming up once again with director John Hillcoat to bring us Lawless.
The film, which stars Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain, opened this week and to stir up some buzz, Cave has been making the press rounds. Recently, we spoke with him at the film’s LA press day, where he discussed working with Hillcoat again, how he became attached to the project and more.
Check out what he had to say below.
We Got This Covered: Can you talk a little about the collaboration between you and John Hillcoat?
Nick Cave: Well, it’s been going since he came out of art school at 19 or 20. We’ve been friends in Melbourne for a long time and have been working on different things since then, rock videos and stuff and some of the films that he made before The Proposition, where I was brought in to write the script.
That film basically came about from a frustration that John was having trying to get an Australian western together. He kept getting these scripts written and they were American westerns arbitrarily dumped in Australia. I would say “These are (expletive), man. They’re not Australian westerns at all. They’re American westerns.” So he said “Well, you write it.” and I wroteThe Proposition script for him.
We Got This Covered: Had you written a screenplay before?
Nick Cave: No, I had no idea how to do that and I think that was primarily why it was quite good. I didn’t know my stuff. Since then, we’ve been trying to write good stuff together.
We Got This Covered: How’d you get attached toLawless?
Nick Cave: Someone had seen The Proposition. They liked what me and John had done together. Doug Wick and Lucy Fisher found this particular book and brought it to us on the strength of that.
At the time, I had no interest in doing someone else’s story, but Matt Bondurant’s book was stunning. It had, very much, the kind of elements that bound me and John together, which was a kind of lyricism and a love of a kind of brute violence. That was very much in that book.
We Got This Covered: With so many characters, was there ever any thought to turn this into a mini-series?
Nick Cave: No, but it’s a good idea, though (laughs). Actually, I’m very interested in doing a TV series and I’m working on getting something off the ground at the moment. I would love to do a ten-parter or something like that, only because what you can do on TV, you simply can’t do in movies anymore. You can go to places that you can’t go in film.
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We Got This Covered: Had you met the author prior to writing the screenplay?
Nick Cave: I just met him just now. I’d never met him before, I didn’t even know who he was. I’m standing there and he’s like “I’m Matt Bondurant.” I’m like “Hi.”
We Got This Covered: You look like you put a lot of heart into your writing. Do you think that’s a prerequisite for an artist?
Nick Cave: You can do it in that way or it can really be a craft. I think that scriptwriting of anything is a craft in a sense that you’re a functionary that’s serving a greater machine. Your heart and soul is not really even wanted. You’ve just got to do the job that’s required to realize the vision of the director and the producers. That’s what you learn as a scriptwriter.
For me, as someone who is directly involved in songwriting, where I’m just sitting in a room on my own night and day when I’m writing songs, to come out and work collaboratively and to work for someone else is a huge relief. That’s how I feel about scriptwriting. It’s something that I have some kind o af talent for and it’s not really my vision, but it’s the director’s vision that I’m trying to find out what that is. I’m not saying that to be humble or anything. It’s actually a huge relief to have that responsibility and do something for somebody else. It’s not what I want to do all my life, but it offers me some relief from songwriting and that sort of thing.
We Got This Covered: Is screenwriting your new career?
Nick Cave: It isn’t my present career. It’s kind of an extracurricular thing that goes on. My career is my band and music and that sort of stuff.
We Got This Covered: Does it bother you if people think of you as a dark or brooding guy based on your music?
Nick Cave: Oh, I’m just doing an interview. You wait until the sun goes down (laughs).
I don’t know what people think about me. I’ve been doing this for a long time. I don’t really care, to be honest. At the end of the day, I’ve got to get on with it and do what I’ve got to do. The whole dark, gothic thing, I don’t know. It’s only an image that I have to people who aren’t really acquainted with what I do, in a way. People who know my music and know what I’ve been doing for the last whatever, understand that what I do is full of humor and light and this sort of stuff. There’s a dark element as well, but there’s more to it than that.
That concludes our interview but we’d like to thank Nick very much for talking with us. Be sure to check out Lawless, now in theatres.Previous