Director Elliott Lester’s feature film directorial debut was Love is the Drug (2006). He went on to direct Jason Statham in Blitz (2011) and Nightingale (2014) which starred David Oyelow, award-winning actor for his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma (2014). I spoke with Elliott recently in which we discussed Thirst, produced by Matt Damon. Mr. Lester is currently directing Arnold Schwarzenegger in 478.

J.M.D. -You directed Nightingale, and I love character studies like Taxi Driver, with Robert DeNiro playing Travis Bickle, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder

E.L. – David Oyelowo gives a very strong performance of a war veteran suffering from PTSD. The entire film is set in a house. Writer Frederick Mensch really understands people.

J: I understand that there were some hurdles in getting the movie sold.

E: Every festival said no. Brad Pitt and Didi Gardne of Plan B Entertainment Inc. said yes. Brad and Didi are incredible people, and it was distributed by HBO, who has been amazing. Millions saw Nightingale on HBO and if it had played in art houses, it probably would never been seen.

J: -And you also have a film called Sleepwalkers, soon to be released?

E: Next year to be released, starring Richard Armitage, Haley Joel Osment, and Izabella Scorupco. It’s an experimental film. It’s really like…a woman’s Memento.

J: What’s Thirst, produced by Matt Damon?

E: I can’t talk about Matt Damon, but it’s written by Charles Leavitt (who wrote 2006’s Blood Diamond, starring Leonardo DiCaprio) and the film is set against the back drop of the global water crisis.

J: And I’m also aware you’re getting ready to film 478, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

E: Yes, it’s Arnie like you’ve never seen before. Arnold plays a man whose wife and child are killed in a tragic mid-air collision. His life takes an unexpected turn when he seeks revenge on the person responsible. Heavy Drama. Javier Gullo wrote the script and Darren Aronofsky, Randall Emmet and George Furla are producing. Yes, shooting mid-December in Ohio. Arnold challenges himself as if saying, “Look, I don’t want to be seen as I’ve been seen before.” It will be nice to see Arnold in a different light.

J: What was it like to work with Arnold?

E: Arnold is powerful, hardworking and self-deprecating. He’s always challenging himself, like he did as the Terminator.

J: And Pumping Iron (1977) and Conan the Barbarian (1982).

E: Yes, to becoming Governor of California.

J: How did you start out in the film business?

E: I started doing P.A. work. I moved on to commercials and music videos.

J: You worked with Hilary Duff and Jessica Simpson.

E: Yes. And Jay Z…

J: Who are your favorite film directors? I like Pasolini.

E:  Pasolini, Fassbinder, Kurosawa, Scorsese, Welles.  My buddy is Walter Hill.

J: Wow, Walter Hill. Southern Comfort, The Long Riders, and 48 Hours. I haven’t heard from Walter Hill for a while now.

E: Don’t forget The Warriors. Walter is also my mentor…Walter is shooting Tomboy in Vancouver. Hold on please Jeremy, I’ll be right back. (Elliott Lester takes another phone line.)

That was Arnold.  I hope this turns into what The Wrestler did for Mickey Rourke.

 

 

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