I was very impressed with We Are What We Are helmer Jim Mickle’s latest film, Texas-set noir thriller Cold In July. Boasting terrific performances from the likes of Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard and Don Johnson, as well as stylish direction and a devilish sense of humor, it’s an excellent, highly entertaining thriller. And in true Mickle style, it’s sure to divide audiences when it opens in limited release later this month.
Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Mickle (pictured above) about Cold In July. We spoke about his xperiences working with such a fine cast, how he approached working on his first bona fide thriller, what’s next for the director, and much more.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
First off, I want to congratulate you on Cold In July being selected to screen as part of the Director’s Fortnight at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Jim Mickle: Thank you, very much.
Really, this booming stage in your career, with the success of We Are What We Are and now Cold In July, a lot of it started at another film festival – Sundance. What was your experience this year at the festival, compared to previous years?
Jim Mickle: It’s cool, because this year we [Mickle and his long-time collaborator Nick Damici, who co-wrote Cold in July] were in the competition. Last year we were in Midnight, which is also an awesome program – any program at Sundance is amazing – but Midnight is a little bit of stuff for the weirdo, which is cool. I’m used to that, I like that, I love those movies.
It was a different thing this time around though, because we had something that was really out of that genre, so, yeah, it was being held side by side with some of their most celebrated entries. And so it was a very cool experience, which brought on different expectations, and there were people not quite knowing what to make of things, and that was all very exciting. Up until then, every time we’ve premiered a movie, it’s always been at midnight, and we’ve always been stuck at 2 a.m. in the middle of a midnight movie marathon. And now we’ve moved to the primetime.
I’m sure this question came up during the various Sundance interviews, but what was it like working with this cast? With Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard, Don Johnson and Vinessa Shaw, Cold In July is really an embarrassment of riches.
Jim Mickle: Yeah, it was amazing, everybody showed up on set, and I was like, “Great.” [laughs] I was lucky, because it took a long time to put together, but when we did, it was with all the perfect pieces of that. Michael C. Hall was coming off Dexter, and you know, he was looking to dive into something, I think he probably would have gone crazy had he left Dexter and just gone to not acting. Or you know, he might have taken a vacation and done something healthy. [laughs] He was very cool. He just came in and, you know, on this movie I was always so impressed with him and his ability to change gears and play different characters. And whatever respect I had for him went through the roof the minute I started working with him and seeing him in action.
And Don and Sam were great; once you get over the initial jitters of meeting guys like that, you realize that they’re there to team up and collaborate and take your ideas and push them further and give your their ideas, and it’s pretty great. Guys like Don are able to throw a million ideas at you and say, “I’ve been in situations like this many times before,” and this may not work the way you want it to, so I want to give you this option too and you can decide. And Don knew I was editing too, so I noticed that he really knew how to talk to a director and talk to an editor. So he’d say, “If you want, you can lop it off here,” and it’s very rare to find that in an actor.