Exclusive: Joe Lynch Talks Everly’s Insane Realism, Salma Hayek’s Heart, and More!
After she betrays a powerful and dangerous mob boss, a woman named Everly (Salma Hayek) matches wits and weaponry with a squad of killers who are out to collect the bounty on the heads of her and her family. With Everly the movie available on iTunes and On Demand now and in theaters February 27th, we spent some time with director Joe Lynch to learn more about how the film came to be and his process for keeping it real.
Dread Central: We know you as a horror fan (having done Wrong Turn 2, Chillerama, and “Holliston”), and while there is as much blood and gore as most horror films in Everly, it’s a little different from what we’d expect of you. How’d it come about?
Joe Lynch: There’s a little bit of bloodshed, and there’s some scary moments, I guess you could say. Honestly, I know that I had started out in the horror world. Not by design, just because I love the genre, like so many that we know – we love the genre so much, that it fuels us to make that kind of art. But I also love other genres. And I’ve always had this idea of doing kind of a siege movie, or something akin to say, you know, Assault on Precinct 13 or Night of the Living Dead. I love pressure-cooker movies.
And not just from a financial or budgetary standpoint, like, “Oh good! One location. We don’t have to do any company moves.” Which, when you start making movies and you start going like, “Where’s our company move?” And you realizing how much time gets sucked out of that. Suddenly movies all set in one location start to sound really attractive.
But this was really more from an aesthetic position. I came up with this idea years ago where I wanted to make a short film that you think is a feature, but then 27 minutes into the movie, the lead character dies. And then that’s the end of the movie. But we say that it’s a feature so when people watch it, they go, “Holy shit! That man… they totally, you know, pulled the rug out from under me!”
And I told this to my manager at the time. And he’s just like, “That’s a terrible idea, but I do like this idea of this character who’s stuck in the situation.” And then we started talking about movies like Breaking the Waves and the Dogma 95 movement where it was all about having these rules that hindered you from certain parameters – like you can’t have this and you can’t have that – but that just makes you create more interesting art. So this was a challenge. So my manager at the time challenged me, “Come up with an idea that uses a lot of these same elements and come back to me.”
And I wrote the entire thing out and really was tapping into all those action thrillers from, like, the late 80’s into the early 90’s that I just grew up with and loved – I mean everything from Blood Simple to Leon the Professional. And then I’ve also been heavily influenced by Eastern cinema as well. So, you know, I kept thinking like, “I wonder if I could ever make a movie that is just as crazy as a Takashi Miike movie? Could that ever happen?” That was the challenge.
And really, then I came back, and then [producer] Luke [Rivett] liked it. And I got a college buddy of mine to get involved, Yale Hannon, who’s from Syracuse. And we banged out the script together. And then the rest is infamy… I guess you could say.
DC: How did Salma Hayek come on to Everly?
JL: Well, originally we had Kate Hudson. We did a really long search to find the right actress who was going to bring the right gravitas, who was going to be easy enough on the eyes, that you’d want to see a whole lot of her in one location for an extended amount of time – because that was always a factor. But someone who could also have the emotional resonance, that could carry a movie as totally insane as this movie is.
I’ll be the first person to say that this movie is, technically, totally inconsistent. You know what? So is real life. Life is totally inconsistent because the drama that we’re having right now with the light comedy that we’re experiencing on the phone? In about 20 minutes I could get into a car accident. How would a movie convey that, in the proper way that’s going to reflect real life? It can’t.
I went in to every actress that we talked to and said, “This movie is insane. This movie is a roller coaster. So if you’re along for the ride, awesome. I want you to know that. And also that the focus is to create an elevated world around your grounded performance.” Like that was the key – was that no matter what, in the eye of the storm, there was going to be a real person playing the lead in this, not just another “wacky character” in this world the psychos created, you know? We needed to have someone with real emotion, real gravitas.
So at the time Kate was very interested. She also was like, “I want to make a crazy action movie like my dad.” And I’m sitting there going like, “Your dad is Kurt Russell…” Ultimately it didn’t work out with her because she got “Glee,” but obviously it worked out to our favor because, when Kate was involved, then other actresses became less scared of it.
It needed that kick in the ass, that vote of confidence that Kate had, for the other actresses – who actually passed on the movie in the beginning – to come back to us and say, “Hey – is that movie still open? That sounds great.” It’s the fear that people have over certain projects, because this is an extreme movie, you know; this is not a walk in the park. This is not The Notebook… this movie’s all over the place. There’s a lot of physicality involved. It goes to some very dark places. So we wanted to make sure that whoever was going to do it was fully comfortable with knowing that we were going to go to these places.
And weirdly enough, a couple of weeks after Kate dropped out and we were going, “Well fuck! What are we going to do?” We got a call. And it was Salma’s people. And they said, “She loved the script. She wants to meet you.” And we’re like, “What?” And my knee-jerk reaction was – she’s not right for the part. But that was because I had this very set idea of who Everly was… Everly could have been anybody when we first wrote it. But then the more and more that we worked into acting, and obviously we had Kate for a couple of months, so I had her in my head – it was hard to shake.
But the second that we sat down with Salma and she broke down the script and said, like, “Look. This is all cool, but you’re missing the humanity. You’re missing the heart. Like you need to have the emotional resonance of a mother trying to save her daughter, or this movie’s not going to work.” And she was completely and utterly right. And that’s what she brought every day on the set. She wanted to make sure that no matter what madness I would throw her way – everything from 1,000 bullets to crazy women of the night to the sadist and masochist – everything that I threw her way – she would always try to come to every scene from the place of a real person. And that was so important to her.
So just watching that happen was like, “Oh my God!” I just kept pinching myself going, this could have gone one way and it could’ve been very Resident Evil, so to speak. Where it’s just like, okay, here’s this kick-ass chick. She’s just busting chops and everything. Getting no real emotional connection to anybody. She’s just an avatar. Awesome. Whereas, we wanted someone who would reflect that old story that you remember, like that everybody heard, where it’s like, “Did you hear the one about the mother who picked up a bus to save her baby?”
I’m a parent now. When I first wrote it, I wasn’t. But when I went to shoot the movie, I had my first son. So I knew what it’s like to be [Everly]. You go all in when it comes to the survival of your kid. And that was so important. Whereas, in the script before, it was there, but when Salma was involved, it became everything, And then really, I think that’s the reason why her performance is… whether you love the movie or hate the movie – no one has ever said a bad thing about Salma and her performance, and that’s good.
The thing I’m the most proud of is that she’s a real person in a very, very unreal situation. And all of those fiends and all the things that she is fighting through – sure maybe, you know, your life doesn’t have creeps and Yakuza and crazy Yakuza bosses and insane torture moments. But we’ve all been stuck in a corner before. We’ve all had hard times. And we’ve all had to endure that. And this really is just a movie about someone who has to endure the most extreme situations, just to have one moment with their child again.
DC: I understand Everly has brought out a few critics who say it’s a sexist movie; I didn’t get that impression at all when I saw it.
JL: I was a little nervous when I started to read your review. Because, you know, when we premiered the movie in Austin, more than a few people were very offended by the movie because they said that the movie was misogynist and that I hated women. And it made me go, “What?” because I’d never thought about that, you know? “Am I an irresponsible filmmaker for thinking that, like, I was wrong in this, that I was being overly exploitative? And am I a misogynist?” It made me go, “What did I do wrong?” But I think it was just that somebody had a very, very bad day. And wanted to take it out on someone.
So I’ve been very curiously excited to see what certain reviewers would say. I’ve been reading your reviews for years, and so it was like, “Oh God. Please, I hope Staci likes this.” And it was very heartening for to me to read your review because it wasn’t like, “Yay, you liked it”; it’s more like, “Yay, you got it.” You got what I was doing. Because this movie is not for everybody, but for those who are into this sort of thing, they’re really going to like it.
DC: They definitely will. It kicks ass! Thank you, Joe.
Radius-TWC presents Everly (review), starring Salma Hayek, available on iTunes and On Demand NOW and in theaters February 27, 2015. The Everly – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is also available now on iTunes.
Togo Igawa, Masashi Fujimoto, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, Gabriella Wright, and Hiroyuki Watanabe co-star in what can only be described as an uber-violent manga come to life!
It’s Christmastime, but all is not well in the world of Everly (Salma Hayek). A call girl by trade, Everly has turned against her gangster boss Taiko (Hiroyuki Watanabe) and become a police informant. In response, Taiko has put out a hit on Everly and her family. Soon, every criminal in town wants to cash in. Everly’s survival instincts quickly kick in as she matches wits and firepower with Taiko and a seemingly endless stream of killers.