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First time director talks new film, death of lead actor at E Street Cinema event

Ethan Stoler | Contributing Photo Editor
John Carroll Lynch, who directed the film “Lucky” in his directing debut, discussed the film at E Street Cinema Tuesday.

John Carroll Lynch, the director of the film “Lucky,” brought insights on the fragility of life and took a somber but positive look at the late actor Harry Dean Stanton, who starred in the film, at E Street Cinema’s advanced showing Tuesday night.

“Lucky” will be released Sept. 29 and tells the story of a 91-year-old man coming to terms with the inevitability of death. The lead actor in the film, Stanton, died last Friday at the age of 91 – the same age as the character he plays in the film.

If you missed the director’s take on the film during the Q&A, here’s what Lynch had to say:

1. Fate of the film’s lead actor

Lynch began the panel by recognizing the death of Stanton. He said the movie was written by Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja, who were friends with Stanton, so the film did closely relate to the actor’s life. Lynch said although the rest of the cast and crew saw similarities between the actor and his character, Stanton used to say that he “didn’t see it.”

Lynch, who discussed what it was like to work side by side with Stanton, said that as an actor, he delved into his roles fully. The lead actor took part in writing the film and the core production team would go over to Stanton’s house every Sunday to work, he said.

“Nobody I knew wasted less time than Harry,” Lynch said.

Lynch revealed that Stanton never got to see the film before he died.

Stanton was a seasoned actor who had been featured in 199 films. Stanton’s legacy was brought up throughout the panel from mentioning his role from “Alien” to his work in “Pretty in Pink.” His most notable work is in the movie and television show “Twin Peaks.”

Lynch added that there has been has “an outpouring of affection from people” since Stanton’s death last week.

2. First time director

The film is Lynch’s directorial debut. Lynch, who has worked as an actor in notable roles in “Fargo” and “Shutter Island,” said while he was on set it was difficult at times to remember he was a director now, not just an actor. Lynch said it was Stanton who called him out in a lighthearted way on set when he forgot to do his job.

“Camera is rolling, speed, there’s a long pause and then Harry says ‘say action, man. This is the reason you’re doing the deal!’” Lynch said. “I forgot it was me!”

While on the “Lucky” set, Lynch was working alongside actor David Lynch, who plays the character Howard in the film, who is a director himself. When asked if he was intimidated by the experienced actors, he said he was “intimidated by Harry” but not by David Lynch.

3. Unexpected characters hit the big screen

Throughout the indie film itself, there are many quirky details like strange pet names and surprise cameos. One of the breakout stars of the movie is a tortoise named President Roosevelt — one of the character’s pets that goes missing. The tortoise is only present in the beginning and the end of the film.

The tortoise “shows you how to watch the movie,” Lynch said, because the film is slow-paced but comes full circle, just like the tortoise’s pace and the fact that he shows up only at the beginning and end.

Lynch added that making the movie made him think about his dad, who makes a cameo in the movie. His father is 86 years old and Lynch said his aging father is healthy, but the film still hit close to home and made him think about his father’s future.

“He is fine, but for how long?” Lynch said.

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