Chances are you’ve seen John Carroll Lynch, a veteran character actor for almost 25 years. He’s appeared in everything from Fargo to The Founder to The Drew Carey Show to The Walking Dead. Recently, Lynch made the decision to step behind the camera to direct Lucky, a semi-fictionalized account of the life of 90-year-old Hollywood legend Harry Dean Stanton. The film made its world-premiere this year during SXSW, and we got the chance to sit down with the first-time director about bringing the mythos of Stanton to the big screen.
What was it that drew you to Lucky for your directorial debut?
I was asked by the writers of the movie [Logan Sparks and Drago Samonja]. They were starting to put it together. I had known Drago for a long time, Logan I had known for a few years too, and they brought me the script as an actor. They wanted me to attach myself to act in the movie, and I liked the script and I was like, “Yeah, cool. No problem. If it helps you at all, attach my name.”
For years, [Drago had] known I had a desire to direct, and that I’d followed people and trailed people, and it just hadn’t quite come together. A couple of months later, they asked me if I wanted to direct the piece. I was like, “Well, yeah. I do.” I told them the story of the movie, what I thought it was. We worked on it for a while together, walking through it to move things around a little bit and to talk about what each scene was. Then we started going out to cast and financiers, and ended up making the movie pretty quickly, because everybody knew there was a time crunch.
What was your shooting schedule?
18 days, with a 19th satellite day in Arizona. And we had staggered weeks. So we started with a two day week, and then started on Thursday [and] Friday, and then gave Harry two days off. Then three days, and then we gave Harry two days off. We did it that way because I had just finished a shoot as an 18-day shoot as an actor, that I was in every day, and I knew how exhausting it was. And I’m a little over half Harry’s age.
So we knew we had to husband his energy, wanted to make sure he could go home every night. We wanted to get him out and so there was that kind of economy was necessary, both budgetarily and also structure-wise, because we wanted to make sure that Harry could do what he needed to do.