With STXfilms releasing the true story drama, The Best of Enemies, this weekend in theaters, I recently sat down with writer-director Robin Bissell to talk about helming his feature debut. During the extended interview, he talked about what he learned from producing a number of Gary Ross movies, how he landed Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell as the two leads, the way Henson transformed herself into Ann Atwater, how early screenings impacted the finished film, how Tobey Maguire ended up producing the film, which scenes he was nervous about due to his limited shooting schedule, and so much more.
If you haven’t seen the trailer, The Best of Enemies centers on the unlikely relationship between Ann Atwater (Henson), an outspoken civil rights activist, and C.P. Ellis (Rockwell), a local Ku Klux Klan leader who reluctantly co-chaired a community summit, battling over the desegregation of schools in Durham, North Carolina during the racially-charged summer of 1971. The film also stars Babou Ceesay, Anne Heche, Wes Bentley, Nick Searcy, John Gallagher Jr., and Bruce McGill.
Check out what Robin Bissell had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about.
- How long has he known he wanted to direct movies?
- What did he learn from working with Gary Ross that he took with him to his debut feature?
- How did early screenings impact the finished film?
- Landing his incredible cast.
- Balancing the fact and fiction of the story with making a movie.
- What was it like working with Sam Rockwell?
- Humanizing a member of the Klan.
- The way Taraji P. Henson transformed herself into Ann Atwater.
- How does he like to work on set?
- What scene or scenes was he nervous to do due to his limited shooting schedule?
- The challenges of finding locations that worked for the time period.
- How did Tobey Maguire end up producing the film?