Exclusive Interview: Taylor Sheridan Talks Wind River And Soldado

Can you talk about directing the actors in the film? You got some incredible performances from Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen.

Taylor Sheridan: Well, having been an actor I understand the essence of the characters and I know how to talk to actors. A lot of directors speak to actors in result, in other words, saying I need more here or less here. But actors don’t think like that. Actors think in process. They have to know why they’re doing something. To do it they have to understand the motivation at that very specific moment and what’s going through their mind. Having been the writer of this and having acted I know the answers and I know how to explain them.

I think it’s probably one of the reasons you see Ben (Affleck) has become a phenomenal director and I would imagine he would say the same thing. That shorthand and that understanding of how to speak to someone as you’re filming and being able to lock into that moment and the experience and help them articulate it in a way that they can execute, I think is helpful.

Absolutely. I think it works the other way around, as well, where because you’ve had that acting experience that the actors would tend to give more trust in your direction.

Taylor Sheridan: Yeah, I think there’s a trust and I’m a big believer on set that no one gets to say no. I mean no one, me included. So if there’s something an actor wants to try, they can try it. The same is true for my DP. If there’s something that he wants to try that we haven’t discussed, time permitting, we’ll always try it because you never know.

Wind River is the third film in your thematic trilogy. Did this idea evolve along the way or was it the plan from the start?

Taylor Sheridan: I had finished a first draft of Sicario and I was going back through and that’s when the idea struck me to make this a trilogy and continue exploring things these characters have experienced and these other worlds in our frontier. So the decision was the next one would be tethered to this one and then the next is going to be tethered to that and I want to answer questions in the third one that I raised in the first. I think if one were to sit down and watch all three, they would see line connections. A thing that was said by Alejandro at the end of Sicario is counter pointed by Cory at the end of Wind River. These worlds connect and they’re bonded in their own suffering.

That would be one hell of a Criterion Collection set.

Taylor Sheridan: [laughs] Alright, put it together because Lionsgate owns two of them and the Weinsteins own one. So, I don’t know how they’ll figure that out but I’m sure they will.

If Wind River is the closing of the trilogy then where does that leave Soldado? Is it its own thing or the start of something new?

Taylor Sheridan: The interesting thing about Alejandro and Matt is that the characters are so distinct. In Matt you have such a patriot that believes fully in the end justifying the means and in Alejandro you have someone that’s so far removed. He’s so apolitical. It’s so personal for him. Enacting terror on the people who killed his family is the only way he can keep their name alive. So these two people that have no business are bound together and it’s such an interesting sad odd couple and it’s interesting to drop them in new worlds. I’m mystified that it’s turning into some kind of franchise. Mystified! But as long as they’ll let me keep telling the story the way I want to tell it and I have something to say, I’ll do it.

When Denis Villeneuve became unavailable to direct Soldado, was there any point where you thought you might do it?

Taylor Sheridan: Well, there was discussion. The problem was I was still very early in post-production on Wind River and it just wasn’t possible. They would have had to push too far and when Stefano Sollima was available and he’s a really interesting director, it just made more sense. I didn’t want them to wait for me and they didn’t want to wait. When Stefano appeared it just answered everyone’s questions.

Hey, maybe the third one then?

Taylor Sheridan: We’ll see.

That concludes our interview, but many thanks to Taylor Sheridan for his time. Be sure to catch Wind River, in theaters now!