Conversation with the writer-director of the new movie ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’.
Kate Hagen, Director of Community at @theblcklst, goes into depth in this interview with writer-director Martin McConagh about his latest film: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, starring Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, and Woody Harrelson.
What inspired this film?
I saw something similar to what we see on the billboards about seventeen years ago on a bus trip through the states, and it passed me by in, like, a second, but it stayed in my mind — the idea of what kind of pain, or rage, or bravery would cause a person to put up some kind of signage like that, because it was similarly calling out the cops about a crime. And I wanted to write something for a female lead, a strong female lead, for a while — I’d done that in plays, but I hadn’t really done that at all in the films I’ve made. Once I coupled those two ideas together and once I made that person a mother, it felt like Mildred kind of sprang fully-formed onto the page.
How do you go about creating such well-rounded characters that grow? You have this knack of redeeming characters who initially seem like complete scum-of-the-earth assholes, but you somehow manage to make them lovable and relatable to everyone in the audience.
Well, in answer to the second question, you just kind of have to see the humanity in everyone. And it’s not simple Hollywood heroes and villains — it’s hopefully something more interesting and more surprising than that, because if you’re not adhering to, “the heroes are the heroes and the villains are the villains,” you can go to anywhere, any place with them. The hero can become more villainous, and the villain can become more heroic, I guess. But in terms of the well-rounded characters, I think the thing is to think that every character could be the lead character in their own movie, as we all are the lead characters in our own movie. Like Peter Dinklage’s character, he’s really interesting and you kind of think, “what do you do in your daily life, are you thinking about Mildred all the time?” He could have a film of his own, and most of the characters are that way. And then you just reduce those people to two or three scenes, but their personality and their joy for the world is big. So it’s about that, I think, just seeing no one as secondary.
A trailer for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri:
For the rest of the Black List interview with Martin McDonagh, go here.