- Title: Frances McDormand used John Wayne as model in small-town revenge drama
- Date: 4th September 2017
- Summary: VENICE, ITALY (SEPTEMBER 4, 2017) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR MARTIN MCDONAGH SAYING: "Just for the sake of feminism and story-telling and I think if you have a strong female character your room for manoeuvre, for surprises, is much greater than having a guy. I used to write strong female parts in my plays and it allowed you to go to dark and dangerous places that an audience hasn't seen for a while or forever maybe. And now what's good about this, is that every scene she could, anything could happen because we set it up from the start that she is so tough and angry and forward thinking. And that's exciting as a writer, to not know what the character's going to do next."
- Embargoed: 18th September 2017 20:58
- Keywords: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri premiere director Martin McDormand Frances McDormand inspired by John Wayne Woody Harrelson Sam Rockwell
- Location: VENICE, ITALY
- City: VENICE, ITALY
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment,Film
- Reuters ID: LVA0026X6L64T
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: John Wayne was the inspiration for Frances McDormand's portrayal of an angel of vengeance in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri", said the American actress ahead of the movie's premiere at the Venice film festival on Monday (September 4).
McDormand stars as Mildred Hayes, a woman who uses three billboards to publicly scold the local chief of police for failing to find the rapist and murderer of her teenage daughter and letting the case grow cold without a lead.
The actress said she saw parallels between her character and Wayne's films where the protagonists are never just black or white.
In the movie, director Martin McDonagh said he sought to point to all shades of grey to see humanity in all the characters.
Mildred, a furious and unforgiving small-town single mother, faces off with the town's revered police chief Bill Willoughby - Woody Harrelson - who wants to help but does not know how, especially as he is battling with cancer at the same time.
Add to the mix police officer Jason Dixon, played by Sam Rockwell, who is immature and has a liking for violence and racism.
In one scene, Willoughby accidentally spits blood onto Mildred's face as he is urging her to give up her crusade.
After focusing on male protagonists in his previous films, the British-Irish director chose a woman to lead this story because "if you have a strong female character your room for manoeuvre, for surprises, is much greater than having a guy".
Strong female parts allow you "to go to dark and dangerous places that an audience hasn't seen ... and that's exciting as a writer, to not know what the character's going to do next".
The drama, melancholic but interspersed with some funny dialogue, is one of 21 U.S. and international movies vying for the Golden Lion which will be awarded on Sept. 9.
The Venice film festival is once again seen as the launchpad for the Oscar season, but McDonagh, who won an Academy Award for his short film "Six Shooter" and was nominated for another with "In Bruges", said recognition was not the aim of making this film.
Aiming for fame or Oscars would "taint the truth of what you're doing", he said. "If it happened it would be fine and fun, because the times I've done it, it's silly fun, but it's not the first priority."
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