Are you shooting today?
Sam: Yep. I have shot already.
Were you in the scene with Willem and Casey that we
saw? Or were you in a separate location?
No, I was with Christian and Tom [Bower] in the bar.
Can you tell us whatís happening in that scene?
Shepard: [laughs] Very boring. Very, very boring. Just
information. Itís really just an information scene that
motivates us to go to the Ramapo Mountains to look for
the younger brother when we find out that heís in debt
And you play their uncle?
Are you from the steel mill background as well?
I think everybody is, yeah. I donít work in it directly
in the film. Iím sort of retired.
Were you at the steel mill that closed? Is that part
of your backstory?
Possibly, yeah, but thatís not part of the story.
What was it about this film that drew you to the
The script, it was a good script.
As a director in your own right, whatís it been like
working with Scott Cooper and are you impressed with
I mainly direct theater, plays and stuff. I couldnít put
myself in the same category as him being a filmmaker. My
whole approach to acting is through theater, so itís a
quite different take, so itís hard to compare.
How is he with working with the actors?
Oh, very good. Heís full of enthusiasm, for sure. He has
tons of enthusiasm. Heís always very helpful and he
knows the script inside and out, which always helps. He
knows the storyline, he knows the characters, he wrote
the damn thing, so he really knows it very well. Itís
always useful to talk with him prior to shooting so you
understand the sequence and where youíre going, which I
have a hard time keeping track sometimes.
As a writer, what spoke to you about the script?
I love the script. Itís very original. The characters
are well-drawn. The situation, the predicament of it,
having to deal with bare-knuckle fighting Ö I donít know
how much of it you want to give away. Itís a unique
script. I see a lot of scripts and very few of them leap
off the page at you.
And this did?
Oh yeah. Itís full of very well-defined characters.
Consequently, with fantastic actors to play the role.
For this role, did you have to do a lot of research?
I think we did make a stab at trying some of the
colloquialisms, trying some of the vernacular. Itís a
strange little neck of the woods. I donít know if you
all are from Pittsburgh or not, but there are some words
that are very Southern and almost Irish, for example
ďflourĒ, and stuff like that. ďYinzĒ for ďyíallĒ like in
the deeper South theyíd say, ďyíallĒ, here they say
ďyinzĒ. Things like that that are useful in organizing
the way you speak and itís not simply for authenticity,
itís also the rhythm and the structure that gives a
How would you describe your relationship with both
Casey and Christian, and their characters?
Well Iíve done a film with Casey, the Jesse James film,
so I know him pretty well, I mean I know him better than
most of the other actors. Iíve never worked with
Christian before, but heís very easy to work with and
heís very single-minded, you might say. Caseyís a little
harder to pin down.
Is that good, as an actor? Single-minded?
I really admire his forthrightness in the way he
approaches the character. Iím not a method actor, so I
sometimes have a hard time manipulating around that
thing. I donít even know if heís a method actor or not,
but I know that his approach is quite different than
How much improv have you guys been doing?
Very little. And thatís another token of the script
being good. You sometimes improvise because there isnít
anything on the page, or whatís on the page doesnít
really work. Itís not the case with this.
Given the setting of this and the fact that it deals
with a war veteran, it seems like thereís a sense of
ďAmerican-nessĒ to this story, in that middle-of-America
story that doesnít get told a lot. Does that resonate
with you in any way?
Oh yes, itís an extremely American movie. I canít think
of it being done Ö I suppose there are some similarities
in Ireland or northern England, the industrialized areas
that have collapsed, but itís extremely American.
Is that part of the appeal for you?
Yeah, I love doing American movies. [laughs]
But there are some American movies that arenít about
real Americans. This feels much more honest.
Yeah, theyíre American Hollywood movies. Theyíre cartoon
You say thereís not a lot of improv. We saw a scene
with Casey and Willem earlierÖ
Casey loves to improv.
We heard Scott saying that he wanted Casey to try
Yeah, Caseyís very clever at that. Iím not so good at
that. Heís very good at that.
Has he been doing that in scenes with you and Casey?
I think Iíve only had one scene with Casey when we were
actually in the same scene.
This takes place over quite a few years. Itís
something Iíve had a hard time [visualizing].
Well, itís fairly condensed. There are generations that
come and go, but itís not like Doctor Zhivago or
How would you describe the relationship between your
character and Christianís character?
Iím his uncle, Iím kinda like an older brother to him.
Heís the real responsible character in the story. Heís
trying to clean up around his brother.