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‘Red Right Hand’ Exclusive Interview: Garret Dillahunt

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Garret Dillahunt in 'Red Right Hand,' a Magnolia Pictures release.

Garret Dillahunt in ‘Red Right Hand,’ a Magnolia Pictures release. © Red Right Hand Productions LLC, Steve Squall. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Opening in theaters and on digital February 23rd is the new action thriller ‘Right Hand Man,’ which stars Orlando Bloom (‘Black Hawk Down’), Andie MacDowell (‘Hudson Hawk’), Scott Haze (‘Venom’) and Garret Dillahunt (‘No Country for Old Men’) and was directed by Ian and Eshom Nelms (‘Fatman’).

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with veteran actor Garret Dillahunt about his work on ‘Red Right Hand,’ his first reaction to the screenplay, his approach to playing a preacher, his character’s struggle with his faith, why he helps Cash, working with Orlando Bloom, Andie MacDowell’s villain, and working with the Nelms brothers, as well as taking a look back at his work on the groundbreaking short-lived series ‘Life’ starring Damian Lewis.

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Garret Dillahunt in 'Red Right Hand,' a Magnolia Pictures release.

Garret Dillahunt in ‘Red Right Hand,’ a Magnolia Pictures release. © Red Right Hand Productions LLC, Steve Squall. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Moviefone: To begin with, can you talk about your first reaction to the screenplay and why you wanted to be part of this project?

Garret Dillahunt: Well, this was one of those cool ones where someone just gives you a call and says, “Hey, you want to be in this thing?” That saves us all a lot of time and eases a poor actor’s mind when he is wondering what’s next. I’d heard of the Nelms brothers, I’d seen a few of their movies and I’ve had some friends work with them. John Hawkes, who I knew from ‘Deadwood,’ worked with them and Walton Goggins did. They both had really nice things to say about them, Ian and Eshom. I was looking forward to it and I liked this character. I thought he was complex. I thought it was weird, and I was a little scared to play a preacher who preaches, so that was very nerve wracking. I had to talk to a few of those guys. He’s also a guy that does some violence and that’s a hard thing to reconcile. What are we saying here? Are we trying to justify this violence? I thought it was a good challenge to play this guy who’s flawed. This could be a mistake he’s making, but it’s still part of the old person he was. His main goal was to protect his flock, and I was anxious to see if I could pull that off in a human manner.

Garret Dillahunt in 'Red Right Hand,' a Magnolia Pictures release.

Garret Dillahunt in ‘Red Right Hand,’ a Magnolia Pictures release. © Red Right Hand Productions LLC, Steve Squall. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

MF: Can you talk about your approach to playing the character?

GD: I’ve always been drawn to themes of shame, guilt and redemption. I don’t know what that says about me, maybe I need some kind of therapy. I’m always excited when people get another shot, and they get a chance and often fail again. But it’s about the getting up, isn’t it? I think this guy has failed a lot in his life, but if there’s one thing you could say about him, it’s that he takes care of his friends. He probably had a drug problem. He probably was a real addictive personality. He certainly had a rage problem and a violence problem, but he’s trying to be a different person. The way that he is doing that is through religion. A lot of people find religion and become a different person. I don’t know that it would work for me, but you must find something to hang your hat on to keep your demons at bay, don’t you? Sometimes this guy’s demons come out still, but that’s interesting to me.

Garret Dillahunt in 'Red Right Hand,' a Magnolia Pictures release.

Garret Dillahunt in ‘Red Right Hand,’ a Magnolia Pictures release. © Red Right Hand Productions LLC, Steve Squall. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

MF: While not a lot is said about your character’s backstory in the movie, his history and personality does come across in your performance. Did you create an extensive backstory for your character or just go off what was written in the script?

GD: Well, certainly I look to the script for most of the clues but it kind of depends on the parts. Some people you just know what to do, you’re like, “I know this guy.” I always try to make a chronological outline of what happens to me, so I know what I know and what I don’t know in each scene because you don’t want to play the end. There are some people I never meet, so I can’t pretend I know something that’s not in my character’s orbit. For this one, like I said, I did work with a few preachers, more Pentecostal kind of preachers, just to learn the way they think and the way they talk to their people. I tried to draw on my own childhood. I remember different churches my family would go to and how it would make me feel or the tone they would take when they talk to us. There are some scenes that were cut that were very informative to me as a character. Just for time I’m sure, you never know why things don’t make it in, and you can’t worry about it. But those, even though they’re not there, I’m sure inform what is. It just depends on the project. Usually if there’s a scene, there’s just one incident maybe you need to come up with on your own that will just be reflective in your eyes, just to have something else going on that makes him a rounded person and not just some kind of cutout.

Andie MacDowell in 'Red Right Hand,' a Magnolia Pictures release.

Andie MacDowell in ‘Red Right Hand,’ a Magnolia Pictures release. © Red Right Hand Productions LLC, Steve Squall. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

MF: Can you talk about the power that Big Cat has over this town, as well as Andie MacDowell’s surprising performance?

GD: Yeah, it was a nice departure for her. I think she was nervous about it a little bit. I didn’t get to work with her as much as I hoped, but there was obviously that one section where we all meet. You asked about her grip on this whole community, and particularly on Cash. I think Cash was very special to her. Cash is Orlando Bloom’s character. You saw what happens to us all when we leave her service. She marks us with the red right hand. That’s a bond that Orlando and I share in the movie is we’re both former employees. I think his character is one that she really misses having around because he was capable, he was scary, he was good at his job, and so she’s doing anything in her power to get him back in the fold, including blackmailing him with the safety of his own family. But he won’t put up with that, so he calls his friends, and we go get them.

Garret Dillahunt in 'Red Right Hand,' a Magnolia Pictures release.

Garret Dillahunt in ‘Red Right Hand,’ a Magnolia Pictures release. © Red Right Hand Productions LLC, Steve Squall. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

MF: Can you talk about Wilder’s struggle with his own faith and why he ultimately decides to help Cash?

GD: I don’t know if it would hold up in a court of law. He puts on a ski mask and kidnaps. It’s not any kind of behavior that we would ever put up with outside of a movie, is it? But for some reason we like this kind of thing in our entertainment. I’m justifying it in the way that it’s a mistake in a lot of ways. This is not the way to go about it probably, but he’s a simple man by his own words. He’s an Old Testament kind of preacher, and he’s not afraid to throw a punch or a kick or pick up a gun. I think he’s also really upset that he failed. He failed in protecting this girl. He failed in protecting his friend’s family. That’s something he prides himself on, so he’s determined to go get them back. Cash is like, “I like your plan”, which is no plan at all. I think he’s one of those people. There’s a little bit of the zealot in him, isn’t there, which is dangerous because they’re not afraid to die. He’s like an old Ford pickup. He’s not a Ferrari but are you ready to redline your Ferrari because I’m ready to redline my Ford truck. He’s a hammer. In his world if he stands before the maker I don’t know if he’ll have good words to say about his actions, but I know he believes he’s doing what’s right.

Orlando Bloom in 'Red Right Hand,' a Magnolia Pictures release.

Orlando Bloom in ‘Red Right Hand,’ a Magnolia Pictures release. © Red Right Hand Productions LLC, Steve Squall. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

MF: What was it like working with Orlando Bloom?

GD: Orlando’s great. I’d never met him before, but I found him to be really kind and really welcoming. Look, I work all the time and I get recognized plenty, but I don’t have to alter my life really. I can walk down the street; I can eat in a restaurant. I don’t know what it must be like for him and Katy (Perry) to move through the world. Two people, just massive stars, who everyone knows their names and their faces, and knows an awful lot about them. For him to still be patient, kind and giving with everybody else, it was cool. We talked a lot about the accent. He’s British, and so he’s playing a Kentucky guy, and he’s just the best kind of star to work with because he wants you to be good. He wants the whole thing to be good, and he surrounds himself with good people to make that happen. He doesn’t care where the good idea comes from, just that it’s a good idea and that it helps the film, and that just takes a lot of pressure off everybody else. We don’t have to change our behavior around him. We just got to be good at our jobs because he’s bringing it, so we better bring it too. He’s a good number one.

Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms, co-directors of 'Red Right Hand,' a Magnolia Pictures release.

(L to R) Eshom Nelms and Ian Nelms, co-directors of ‘Red Right Hand,’ a Magnolia Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

MF: What was it like collaborating on set with the Nelms brothers and watching them execute their vision for this film?

GD: I really liked them. I work a lot and sometimes I’m a workaholic a bit. There’s a downside. Not only you don’t see your own family a ton, but you’re such a pro that you start to feel alone in a way, almost like you don’t need anything else. It’s a mistake, but it’s how you start feeling. You start feeling like, “Ah, what’s this? Okay, got it. Roll it. Let’s go. I got to be on a plane at 2:00pm for the next on.” It becomes this thing, and you don’t know everybody’s name. I expect the worst sometimes when I show up, which is unfair but there’s a lot of actors that don’t know what they’re doing. There’s a lot of directors that don’t know what they’re doing. You develop a thick skin, calluses and techniques so that you can survive and thrive even if you have no help. Sometimes you get to a place where you start expecting to have no help, and you’re like, “Okay, I’m on my own here. If I don’t want to show my ass public on this thing, then I better come up with a good idea.” It’s a great relief and reminder to sometimes let other people in and maybe you don’t know everything and let a new idea in. There was something about these two guys that I just trusted immediately. I don’t know if it’s because there’s two of them and they seemed like their strengths were both parts of my own personality, I thought. They’re very different, Ian and Eshom, but they’re great together. I think I like working with brother combos. The Cohenbrothers were kind of similar. You have two minds. It’s like there’s this extra brain on set also coming up with ideas. They’re like comic book nerds who are also kind of jocks. Eshom is this incredible, almost pro-level paintballer. All the gunfight sequences make sense, and he knows about finding cover, so that was a load off. Ian was a former MMA fighter, so he did all the hand-to-hand stuff. He has a good eye. He’s got good things to say. But on top of that, they love making movies. They’re like cinephiles. They’re always watching movies. They’re always talking about movies. They’re excited about movies. I was like, “Oh yeah, this is fun. They’re having fun, aren’t they?” And they are. It makes you want to please them. It makes you want to do good for them. I just found myself totally at ease. You want to come up with ways to help them solve a problem, and they’re receptive to that. I look forward to working with them again.

Adam Arkin, Damian Lewis, Sarah Shahi, Donal Logue and Brent Sexton on 'Life.'

(L to R) Adam Arkin, Damian Lewis, Sarah Shahi, Donal Logue and Brent Sexton on ‘Life.’ Photo: NBC Universal Television Studio.

MF: Finally, you had a pivotal role in a groundbreaking, yet short-lived TV series called ‘Life’ starring Damian Lewis, where you played the main villain, a Russian gangster named Roman Nevikov. What are your memories of making that series and working with Lewis and the rest of the cast?

GD: It’s funny. That’s one of my wife’s favorite characters. I’m a shy person, especially when I was younger, and that came along at a time where I still was a little uncomfortable playing people with power. I always say, “I’m a good first mate. I’m not sure I’m a good captain.” Then when someone finally gives you an opportunity to lead, you’re like, “Oh, I don’t know if anyone’s going to buy this”, because you have an opinion of yourself that no one else has, but you believe that. It was a real breakthrough moment for me to play someone powerful like that. He was evil, but he was powerful, assured and calm. I had a style that I’d never had with this white outfit, but I had a good dialogue coach, and I felt good about the Russian accent. Some Russians were asking me where I was from on set, and I was like, “I’m from Yakima, Washington.” They’re like, “Oh, I thought you were Russian.” That made me feel good. But for just having a few episodes, a lot of people remember that and Damian Lewis, he’s a great actor. I haven’t seen him in a long time, but I really like him. I’ve stayed in touch with Sarah Shahi, probably the most gorgeous person on the planet, and we keep trying to work together and find something else to do, but it hasn’t worked out yet, but I hope we can. I think that was a good show.

What is the Plot of ‘Red Right Hand’?

Cash (Orlando Bloom) is trying to live an honest and quiet life taking care of his recently orphaned niece Savannah (Chapel Oaks) in the Appalachian town of Odim County. When the sadistic kingpin Big Cat (Andie MacDowell) who runs the town forces him back into her services, Cash learns he’s capable of anything – even killing – to protect the town and the only family he has left. As the journey gets harder, Cash is drawn into a nightmare that blurs the lines between good and evil.

Who is in the cast of ‘Red Right Hand’?

Orlando Bloom in 'Red Right Hand,' a Magnolia Pictures release.

Orlando Bloom in ‘Red Right Hand,’ a Magnolia Pictures release. © Red Right Hand Productions LLC, Steve Squall. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.

Other Garret Dillahunt Movies:

Buy Tickets: ‘Red Right Hand’ Movie Showtimes

Buy Garret Dillahunt Movies on Amazon

 

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