From director Gary Fleder and written by Sylvester Stallone, the action thriller Homefront (now available on Blu-ray/DVD) tells the story of widowed ex-DEA agent Phil Broker (Jason Statham), who retires to a quiet Southern town with this 10-year-old daughter, only to find it filled with drugs and violence. When psychotic local drug lord Gator Bodine (James Franco) ends up fixated on Broker, the man who was looking to live a quiet, idyllic life must do whatever it takes to protect his family.
During this recently exclusive phone interview with Collider, actor Clancy Brown (who plays local town sheriff Keith Rodrigue in the film) talked about how he came to be a part of Homefront, why the script appealed to him, what makes director Gary Fleder a good collaborator, that he enjoyed playing a straight-up guy, and how a good script will usually get him to take on a role. He also talked about why the video game turned movie Warcraft appealed to him, wanting to work with director Duncan Jones, and how he ended up being a part of the hit Fox TV series Sleepy Hollow. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
CLANCY BROWN: Well, I had worked with Gary Fleder, the director, before. He emailed me, IMed me or called me up. I can’t remember anymore. He said, “I’m in Louisiana to shoot this thing,” because somebody fell out of the role. So, like the rest of my career, I stepped in to fill in for a friend. I was flattered that he thought of me. He sent me the script and I told him that, if the script is great, I’ll happily come do it. And the script was really good. I was surprised, but not really surprised because I knew that Sly wrote. He won the Oscar for Rocky, so everybody knows the guy can write. But, I just thought this was a whole new level of humanity that he showed in this movie. And I think Jason [Statham] playing the role was a great move on his part. You expect something different, but all of sudden, you see that he has a daughter and has to deal with school issues and stuff like that. It was great fun.
What was it about this script that appealed to you?
BROWN: I thought it was a very interesting script that went against the expected. He’s a good screenwriter, Sly Stallone. He really is. He should get more credit than he gets. There was some clunky phrasing, but we can always fix that. But, the characters in the script were all solid. It was a fun thing to do.
You must like him, since you’d worked with him more than once, so what kind of a director and collaborator is Gary Fleder?
BROWN: He’s a good collaborator. It had been a few years. He’s a different director now than he was on The Express. He’s a kinder, gentler Gary Fleder. He’s got a kid and everything, so it all hit closer to home for him. I thought he really did a great job. I’ve heard the criticism that he did it by the numbers, but there is expertise in doing it by the numbers, as well. You have to hit all of those points, and he’s very good at that. There were other creative flourishes, as well. He was very in command of the script and the story, and all of the rest of that. I’d definitely work with him again.
Did it feel different to be playing this seemingly straight-up guy in a town that didn’t have anything supernatural going on?
BROWN: Listen to you! I was happy to play a guy for whom it was just his town, and it was all falling apart. Everything was getting upset, mostly because he just had a couple of people that were water and oil, and they could not see eye to eye. They couldn’t mix. This guy always managed to keep those elements away from each other, and he couldn’t this time. It was a shame. He didn’t want anybody to be hurt, but things get out of hands sometimes. I like that about the script. What was great about the script was that it was unavoidable. The conflict was just unavoidable. There was no way around it. It was inevitable for these guys to hurt each other, and this guy didn’t want anybody to be hurt. I love playing stuff like that.
BROWN: Uniforms and cop cars are things that every actor has in his back pocket. The only question I had for Gary was, “Is this guy corrupt?” Gary was very articulate and said, “No, he’s not corrupt. He’s a peace officer. He’s trying to keep peace.” And I said, “That’s great. That’s all I need to know.” That’s why Gary is a good director, and that’s what I was trying to play, the whole time. He’s just a fella that walks in the room and says, “Now everybody calm down,” and nobody does.
You’ve been in projects in film and television that are all over the map, genre wise. At this point in your career, what gets you to sign on for a project?
BROWN: Well, if the script is good, I’ll try to do it. That’s really what matters. If the characters are interesting and it’s stuff you haven’t really seen before, then I’ll do it. I don’t know that I would want to be in an Expendables movie, which is something that Stallone has written, and Jason [Statham] and Stallone have done together before. That’s just something you would do to have a good time, but there’s nothing really new there. I don’t think, anyway. But when I heard that Jason was doing this and that Sly wrote it, and then I read it and talked to Gary about it, I thought, “This will be fun. This will be an interesting little spin on everybody’s expectations.” That’s why I did it.
Was it the script that attracted you to Warcraft, or was it working with Duncan Jones?
BROWN: Both. In Duncan Jones’ short career, he’s done some pretty great stuff, so I was very interested in him. I remember playing Warcraft on a disc, years and years ago. But I wasn’t interested in making a movie of a computer game, so I did read the script and was moved by it. I thought, “This is a real story. This is a real movie about real beings that are identifiable and with valid motivations.” So, I was into it. That’s about all I can tell you without the studio police coming and taking me out.
Sleepy Hollow was one of the biggest break-out successes of the last TV season.
BROWN: That was crazy!
BROWN: I have no idea. And the reason I did it was really not very interesting. Bob Orci called me up. He knew that I was actually on the east coast and he said, “Could you come and do this little part for us?” And I said, “Yeah, sure. It would be good to see you.” So, it was really to go and say hi to my friends Bob and Alex [Kurtzman], and meet Len [Wiseman], and hang out with them for a couple of days. You never know if a pilot is going to be good, and I couldn’t make heads of tails of the pilot, but it was fun to do. And then, it just had its own momentum, and they had me back. Ken Olin was directing it, and he called me up and said, “Would you come and do the part again?” I said, “Yeah, sure. What the heck.” And I’d worked with Nicole [Beharie] on another Gary Fleder film called The Express, so I knew her a little bit. I like her, and I think she’s immensely talented. I don’t know why she’s not a bigger star, but that will happen, I’m sure. It was just a fun thing to do.
Homefront is now available on Blu-ray/DVD.