David Lowery Talks about His Western Influences and Writing

By Jason Harris


David Lowery, the writer and director of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, a movie about an outlaw portrayed by Casey Affleck, who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met. He wanted to do something that dealt with the archetypes of the western and outlaw genres. The westerns he finds himself loving are ones that have a different perspective.

“One of the first westerns that I loved was Lonesome Dove. It gave me a great appreciation of the genre and how rich it could be and how characters like this could live on the landscape.”

The western that showed him a deconstruction of the genre was Dead Man by Jim Jarmusch, he said.

Along with movies, even literature had an effect on Lowery. Cormac McCarthy is one writer in particular that affected him.

“When I read The Crossing when I was 19, it had a profound effect on me and pretty much changed the way I view not just literature, but storytelling in general.”

Lowery considers everything that McCarthy has ever written in the western genre some of his favorite literature, he said.

Lowery doesn’t have a writing process, but he does think that whatever his process is, it’s him just being lazy. He considers himself very lazy, which is what he thinks most writers are.

“I always put it off as long as I can and find other things to do, eventually the ideas I have in my head sticks around long enough that I just have to finally write it.”

He forces every idea through a trial by fire in his own mind before writing them down. If the idea is forgotten then it wasn’t worth writing down to begin with and the ones that stick around tend to get bigger and bigger, he said.

His choice of Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Affleck (Gone Baby Gone) and Ben Foster (X-men: The Last Stand) to star in his movie were his top choices for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.

“It was a dream come true,” Lowery said about getting his three stars. “It was pretty remarkable.”

It felt to him that he and his three stars were friends and that they wanted to make the movie together, he said.

“I consider myself very lucky not only that they wanted to do the movie, but they brought that attitude.”

This is only Lowery’s second feature. His first feature was St. Nick, which was released in 2009. Along with these two movies, he has created “a lot of short films.”

He learned a sense of confidence from his first film.

“I need to stick to my guns and do what I feel is right for the project.”

Lowery would like to work with his stars again. He would also like to work with Brad Pitt.

“There are so many great actors. I admire so many different people. It really depends on what the project is,” he said about who he would want to work with and place in a movie.

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