The Road

The Road: Interview with Cormac McCarthy & John Hillcoat, new clips

Dread Central has several new clips from the film. Some of them are short versions of the clips that were released about a month ago and others are new. You can check them out here. If you haven’t seen the one with Garret, it’s on the page for The Road.

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent interview with Cormac McCarthy and John Hillcoat, posted in two parts. I’m posting a few snippets below. To read the whole thing, follow the WSJ links. The Road opens in 10 days.

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WSJ: When you first went to the film set, how did it compare with how you saw “The Road” in your head?

CM: I guess my notion of what was going on in “The Road” did not include 60 to 80 people and a bunch of cameras. [Director] Dick Pearce and I made a film in North Carolina about 30 years ago and I thought, “This is just hell. Who would do this?” Instead, I get up and have a cup of coffee and wander around and read a little bit, sit down and type a few words and look out the window.

WSJ: But is there something compelling about the collaborative process compared to the solitary job of writing?

CM: Yes, it would compel you to avoid it at all costs.

WSJ: When you discussed making “The Road” into a movie with John, did he press you on what had caused the disaster in the story?

CM: A lot of people ask me. I don’t have an opinion. At the Santa Fe Institute I’m with scientists of all disciplines, and some of them in geology said it looked like a meteor to them. But it could be anything—volcanic activity or it could be nuclear war. It is not really important. The whole thing now is, what do you do? The last time the caldera in Yellowstone blew, the entire North American continent was under about a foot of ash. People who’ve gone diving in Yellowstone Lake say that there is a bulge in the floor that is now about 100 feet high and the whole thing is just sort of pulsing. From different people you get different answers, but it could go in another three to four thousand years or it could go on Thursday. No one knows. (…)

WSJ: “The Road” is this love story between father and son, but they never say, “I love you.”

CM: No. I didn’t think that would add anything to the story at all. But a lot of the lines that are in there are verbatim conversations my son John and I had. I mean just that when I say that he’s the co-author of the book. A lot of the things that the kid [in the book] says are things that John said. John said, “Papa, what would you do if I died?” I said, “I’d want to die, too,” and he said, “So you could be with me?” I said, “Yes, so I could be with you.” Just a conversation that two guys would have. (…)

WSJ: What was your relationship like with the Coen brothers on “No Country for Old Men“?

CM: We met and chatted a few times. I enjoyed their company. They’re smart and they’re very talented. Like John, they didn’t need any help from me to make a movie.

WSJ: “All the Pretty Horses” was also turned into a film [starring Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz]. Were you happy with the way it came out?

CM: It could’ve been better. As it stands today it could be cut and made into a pretty good movie. The director had the notion that he could put the entire book up on the screen. Well, you can’t do that. You have to pick out the story that you want to tell and put that on the screen. And so he made this four-hour film and then he found that if he was actually going to get it released, he would have to cut it down to two hours. (…)

WSJ: People have said “Blood Meridian” is unfilmable because of the sheer darkness and violence of the story.

CM: That’s all crap. The fact that’s it’s a bleak and bloody story has nothing to do with whether or not you can put it on the screen. That’s not the issue. The issue is it would be very difficult to do and would require someone with a bountiful imagination and a lot of balls. But the payoff could be extraordinary. (…)

WSJ: Because “The Road” is so personal, did you have any hesitations about seeing it adapted?

CM: No. I’ve seen John’s film [“The Proposition”] and I knew him somewhat by reputation and I thought he’d probably do a good job in respect to the material. Also, my agent [Amanda Urban], she’s just the best. She wasn’t going to sell the book to somebody unless she had some confidence in what they would do with it. It’s not just a matter of money.

JH: Didn’t you start “No Country for Old Men” as a screenplay?

CM: Yeah, I wrote it. I showed it to a few people and they didn’t seem to be interested. In fact, they said, “That will never work.” Years later I got it out and turned it into a novel. Didn’t take long. I was at the Academy Awards with the Coens. They had a table full of awards before the evening was over, sitting there like beer cans. One of the first awards that they got was for Best Screenplay, and Ethan came back and he said to me, “Well, I didn’t do anything, but I’m keeping it.”

WSJ: For novels such as “Blood Meridian,” you did extensive historical research. What kind of research did you do for “The Road”?

CM: I don’t know. Just talking to people about what things might look like under various catastrophic situations, but not a lot of research. I have these conversations on the phone with my brother Dennis, and quite often we get around to some sort of hideous end-of-the-world scenario and we always wind up just laughing. Anyone listening to this would say, “Why don’t you just go home and get into a warm tub and open a vein.” We talked about if there was a small percentage of the human population left, what would they do? They’d probably divide up into little tribes and when everything’s gone, the only thing left to eat is each other. We know that’s true historically. (…)

WSJ: Is there a difference in the way humanity is portrayed in “The Road” as compared to “Blood Meridian”?

CM: There’s not a lot of good guys in “Blood Meridian,” whereas good guys is what “The Road” is about. That’s the subject at hand.

JH: I remember you said to me that “Blood Meridian” is about human evil, whereas “The Road” is about human goodness. It wasn’t until I had my own son that I realized a personality was just innate in a person. You can see it forming. In “The Road,” the boy has been born into a world where morals and ethics are out the window, almost like a science experiment. But he is the most moral character. Do you think people start as innately good?

CM: I don’t think goodness is something that you learn. If you’re left adrift in the world to learn goodness from it, you would be in trouble. But people tell me from time to time that my son John is just a wonderful kid. I tell people that he is so morally superior to me that I feel foolish correcting him about things, but I’ve got to do something–I’m his father. There’s not much you can do to try to make a child into something that he’s not. But whatever he is, you can sure destroy it. Just be mean and cruel and you can destroy the best person. [WSJ 1]

There is a moment in “The Road” where the man discovers a can of Coke and gives it to the boy. McCarthy was asked why that particular brand name shows up in the book.

“Well, it just struck me. It’s the iconic American product,” he said. “The one thing that everybody knows about America, the one thing above cowboys and Indians, above everything else that you can think of, is Coca-Cola. You can’t go to a village of 18 people in the remotest part of Africa that they don’t know about Coca-Cola.

Hillcoat interjected. “Here’s the irony,” he said. “There’s some people who don’t know the book and have picked up on this in the film and say, Why did they go for such a blatant product placement?’ Of course, we had to get permission, and every soft drink company was saying, ‘We’re a family brand and we do not want to be associated with cannibalism.’ That’s what they all said.” [WSJ 2]

The Road gets special mention from London jury

The Road got a special mention from the London Film Festival jury at the awards ceremony on Wednesday. The award for best film went to Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet.”


John Hillcoat’s “The Road” drew a special mention from the jury, which included thesp Charlotte Rampling, directors John Akomfrah and Iain Softley, Gallic multihyphenate Mathieu Kassovitz and musician Jarvis Cocker. [Variety]

[Jury chair Anjelica Huston] paused to give a special mention to John Hillcoat’s apocalyptic father and son drama “The Road” for its devastating political statement and bleak but important message. [THR]

The official site for the film has finally been updated with cast and crew bios, production notes, pictures and other stuff. They even launched a game, Survive the Road.

The film will next be screened at the Night Visions festival in Helsinki (Oct. 31, 11.15PM) and at the AFI Fest in Los Angeles (Graumann’s Chinese Theater, Nov. 4 at 7PM). The U.S. release date is still November 25.

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