Channing Tatum Logan Lucky
Cast: Channing Tatum, Hilary Swank, Riley Keough, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katherine Waterston
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Running Time: 119 minutes
Synopsis: Divorced and desperate for money, unemployed West Virginia coal miner Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) hatches a wildly elaborate scheme to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway in neighboring North Carolina during a NASCAR race. He convinces his one-armed brother Clyde (Adam Driver), an Iraq War vet now tending bar at a local dive, and his car-obsessed hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Keough) to join him in the daring heist.
The down-on-their-luck Logans need outside help to pull off the complex robbery. Eccentric demolition expert Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) is clearly the man for the job, but there's one catch: Bang's incarcerated. So Jimmy and Clyde hatch a plan to get him out just long enough to blow the racetrack vault and sneak him back into jail before the warden (Dwight Yoakam) notices he's missing.
On the day of the hugely popular Coca-Cola 600 race, the Logan crew breaks into an underground pneumatic tube system used to transport millions in vendors' cash. Just when it seems they've pulled off the most incredible robbery in North Carolina history, a relentless FBI agent, Sarah Grayson (Hilary Swank), begins snooping around the scene of the crime, suspicious of everything and everyone she comes across.
Filled with unexpected plot twists, offbeat characters, deadpan humor and a raucous soundtrack, Logan Lucky marks the big screen return of Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh.
Release Date: August 17th, 2017
About The Production
After directing nearly three decades of era-defining films, Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh surprised Hollywood four years ago when he announced his retirement from moviemaking. Switching gears, Steven Soderbergh shifted his focus to television and earned two Emmy wins for HBO's 'Behind the Candelabra" and two Emmy nominations for directing the acclaimed series 'The Knick."
Logan Lucky marks the filmmaker's return to the big screen, a decision he ascribes to 'a convergence of a couple of things, one technological, and one creative."
'On the technological front," he says, 'we're reaching a point in the digital landscape where a small company can put a movie into wide release without involvement from major studios. I was having conversations about the future of feature film distribution when this script came over the transom."
The screenplay, given to him by his wife, Jules Asner, was written by their friend Rebecca Blunt. 'I was initially asked to help find a director for the script but I was very excited by what I read," says Steven Soderbergh. 'After a couple of weeks, I admitted that I really didn't want anybody else to direct Logan Lucky because I saw the movie very clearly from what was on the page. It's kind of a cousin to an Ocean's film, but it's also an inversion of those movies because these characters have no money and no technology. They live in very pressured economic circumstances, so a couple of garbage bags full of cash can turn their lives around."
'I also like the fact that when the movie starts out, these characters are not criminals," he adds. 'Unlike the Ocean's crew, Jimmy Logan and his team have to learn on the job, so I also liked that aspect of the script. The story felt close enough to the kind of film that makes me comfortable but different enough to make me excited."
Financed completely independently of the major studios, and distributed in the United States by Steven Soderbergh's new company Fingerprint Releasing, in association with Bleecker Street (Captain Fantastic, Trumbo), Steven Soderbergh's Logan Lucky is the epitome of what he envisioned as the new model of digitally empowered indie filmmaking. 'It's a bit of an experiment," he says. 'To test this distribution theory I needed a commercial movie with movie stars to justify a wide release in a situation that allows me absolute creative control over everything."
An Auspicious Screenwriting Debut
The Logan Lucky script represents a remarkable effort by first-time screenwriter Rebecca Blunt. Like the characters in her script, Blunt grew up in West Virginia. She briefly attended UCLA before moving to New York to hone her writing skills. Rebecca Blunt says Logan Lucky's working-class anti-hero was inspired by the remarkable background of her friend Channing Tatum. 'I wrote Jimmy Logan with Channing Tatum in mind because I see Jimmy as an alternative version of Channing Tatum's own story," she says. 'Channing Tatum's from a small southern town, I believe he won a football scholarship to play in Florida but ended up blowing out his knee before the season started, so he became a stripper. I thought of Logan Lucky as, -What if Channing Tatum hadn't become a male stripper and had gone back home?' I ran into Channing Tatum and his partner Reid at a bowling alley and mentioned the the idea to them " at the time I called it Hillbilly Heist " and Channing Tatum said, -That sounds great!' I don't know if he even remembers saying that and I never imagined all of this would really happen."
Rebecca Blunt fleshed out the film's central plot based on a combination of news reports and her own imagination. 'I heard about sinkholes at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, which is built on landfill. They brought in out-of-work coal miners to make repairs. With my West Virginia roots, I have a lot of sympathy for coal miners. I also had a fascination with pneumatic tubes from when I was a little kid and my mom would go to the drive-thru at the bank. She'd always let me put the money in the tube and it would magically take the money away to the teller." Blunt gave the finished script to Steven Soderbergh, 'I wanted to see if Steven Soderbergh had any suggestions about directors I should go to with the script, since he's made so many great heist movies," Rebecca Blunt says. 'I was thinking he'd sworn off feature films so I was very surprised when he came back and said he wanted to direct it himself."
Meet the Logans
Steven Soderbergh, who had worked with Channing Tatum on Magic Mike and its sequel, saw the actor as a natural for the role. 'Channing Tatum's got this everyman quality that's very genuine," he says. 'He seems like a guy who not only would be fun to hang out with but who would totally have your back if something went sideways."
Tatum says he jumped at the chance to reunite with the man who directed him in his breakthrough 2012 hit the minute he heard Steven Soderbergh's pitch. 'We were doing Magic Mike XXL with Gregory Jacobs directing when Steven Soderbergh told me he had a script about hillbillies robbing NASCAR," Channing Tatum recalls. 'I laughed because the idea of non-professional thieves robbing anything, much less a giant organization like NASCAR, sounded like fun. I love an underdog story. And this band of characters is amazing. They're just enough outside of reality to make it fun."
Beyond being intrigued by the storyline, Tatum says he simply wanted to collaborate with Steven Soderbergh again. 'I love the guy," he says. 'That's the bottom line. But it's a huge plus that he's also a master filmmaker. His films are always so different from everything else out there." At screenwriter Rebecca Blunt's recommendation, Channing Tatum prepared for the role by immersing himself in Appalachian subculture, including watching the jaw-dropping 2009 documentary The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. 'I also drank a lot of beers and ate a lot of pizza, just because I could," jokes Tatum, who bulked up considerably for the part. 'It's a -character choice.'"
With Channing Tatum on board, Steven Soderbergh turned his attention to the role of Jimmy Logan's younger brother Clyde. Numerous A-list actors expressed interest in the role but Steven Soderbergh says he always pictured Adam Driver as the lugubrious West Virginia bartender with a prosthetic limb. 'Like most people, I first saw Adam on -Girls,'" Steven Soderbergh says. 'I immediately watched everything else he did and realised, -This kid's really good.'"
Adam Driver describes Clyde as 'the thinker in the family. He's slow to act until he's analyzed all the angles. He's always idolized his brother Jimmy, but I think he sees himself as the caretaker of the family."
When the director sat down with Adam Driver to discuss the part, he recalls the actor was particularly focused on perfecting Clyde's speaking style. 'We didn't really talk about the role other than that he wanted to dive in and chase that West Virginia accent," Steven Soderbergh says. Driver says he kept two people in mind as he developed his portrayal. 'Clyde was a cross between [the actor] Sam Elliott and my Uncle Kenny. Mostly my Uncle Kenny. But if he had a kid with Sam Elliott, it'd be Clyde."
After working with dialect coach Diego Daniel Pardo, the three-time Emmy nominee showed up on set and performed his first scene in character. 'We had people in the crew who grew up in West Virginia and when they heard Adam Driver talk they were stunned," Steven Soderbergh recalls. Even screenwriter Blunt was taken aback by Adam Driver's mastery of the regional accent. 'Adam Driver sounded exactly like my grandfather," she says.
In addition to nailing his character's patois, Adam Driver had to acquire another impressive skill for his first major scene in the film. 'I learned how to make a martini with one arm," he says. Jimmy and Clyde's sister Mellie is played with steely charisma by Riley Keough. She wowed Steven Soderbergh when they worked together on the 2016 Starz cable series 'The Girlfriend Experience," which earned her a Golden Globe nomination. 'Mellie's a very striking looking young lady with a beauty salon who's also a gearhead," Steven Soderbergh explains. 'She doesn't have a lot of friends and keeps her own counsel, so the actress who played her needed to have a lot going on behind the eyes. That's something Riley's really good at. Riley as Mellie was the perfect accelerant to add into this mix of boys."
Riley Keough responded to the gritty characters and unique setting described in the Logan Lucky script. 'I like the idea of regular people winning in life," she says. 'And being Southern myself, I thought doing a heist movie in the South was pretty cool. Plus, its got everything: it's comedy, and it's action, and it's about family. Of course, Steven Soderbergh's amazing so I wanted to work with him again."
To get into character as a back roads speed demon, Riley Keough took lessons from stunt coordinator Steve Kelso to master a new skill set: driving a car with manual transmission. 'I didn't know how to drive stick so he taught me," she says. 'We drove around in California first and then when I got to Atlanta we drove around in the Mustang you see in the movie. I don't really drive that often, so it was really fun to go racing around in this sports car shifting gears."
Joe Bang & Bros.
Daniel Craig relished the rare opportunity to showcase his comedic chops as quirky explosives expert Joe Bang. 'I have played weird parts before but not for a long while," Daniel Craig says. 'With Joe Bang, I could really disappear into the role, yet it wasn't a massive commitment because this is really Channing Tatum and Adam Driver's story. I could just go to the set, give it my all and have fun with the character."
Daniel Craig, world famous for his roles as James Bond in four 007 blockbusters, recently starred in an Off-Broadway production of 'Othello," but he's never before stretched himself in the direction of an Appalachian crook. 'As soon as I got offered the job I started working on that accent to find out who this person was and what kind of character I wanted him to be," says the actor. 'Joe Bang was really well written on the page, so I didn't have to add a huge amount. I just had to find his voice. Once I got the accent, Joe Bang appeared."
Without any direction from Steven Soderbergh before production began, Daniel Craig decided to physically transform himself with a radical DIY makeover: a blond crew cut. 'I went down to the CVS store and bought a bottle of bleach and did my hair," he says. 'I showed it to the hair and makeup people and they were like, -Yep, that works.'"
Steven Soderbergh, who first met Daniel Craig while producing the 2005 movie The Jacket, sensed that the British actor would be up for the standout supporting role. 'Daniel Craig and I have run into each other over the years so I emailed him the script and said, -I think I may have something for you.' The next morning I got an email back from him saying, -This is great.' I had a feeling Daniel Craig would respond to it because Joe Bang is arguably the best part in the film. He gets all the fun lines and does a bunch of fun stuff for a third of the film without having to shoulder all the responsibility of a lead role."
Rounding out the heist crew are Joe Bang's allegedly born-again younger brothers Fish and Sam, portrayed by Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson. 'I love the Bang brothers," says Jack Quaid, hired for Logan Lucky on the strength of his scene-stealing performance in the HBO rockmusic melodrama 'Vinyl." 'I mean, the Logans are at least functioning members of society who have jobs, but Fish and Sam are two backwater hillbillies coming out of the meth world. For me it was fun to play someone with a little less intelligence, because usually I play neurotic people who overthink things."
Jack Quaid took a less-is-more approach to the character's wardrobe, inspired by The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. 'Hank Williams III often wore a vest with no shirt in that movie, so when I went in for the fitting they were looking for something like that for Fish. I feel like my character wouldn't bother to cover himself any more than what's absolutely, legally necessary."
Gals with Gumption
In a story filled with unexpected twists, one of the most surprising revelations occurs in the third act, when two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank shows up as FBI Agent Sarah Grayson. Steven Soderbergh, who produced the 2002 Christopher Nolan movie Insomnia, in which Hilary Swank stars as a young detective, enlisted the actress to deliver a jolt of eccentricity once the guys pull off their caper. 'Hilary Swank's obviously great and I needed the movie to get a new weird energy at that point in the story," Steven Soderbergh says. 'The FBI Agent needed to be as off-center as everybody else in the film, so I just told Hilary Swank, -She needs to be odd.'"
Hilary Swank developed her own take on the dogged federal agent. 'She's no-nonsense, gets to the point and will not give up until she's figured out the case " and will be happy to kick your ass along the way," she says. 'I like that Grayson thinks she's smarter than everyone else. She basically thinks everyone else is an idiot."
The needs of Jimmy Logan's fractured nuclear family are what prompt him to embark on the ingenious scheme in the first place. Steven Soderbergh cast Katie Holmes to play Jimmy Logan's embittered ex-wife Bobbie Jo. 'Katie Holmes embraced the idea that she couldn't soften the character, because if she backs off from putting pressure on Jimmy then it dilutes the film," Steven Soderbergh explains. 'When we met about the role, I told Katie Holmes, -You don't get that mad at somebody who you are over. That's all I'm going to say.' And she said, -I know what you mean.'"
Katie Holmes understood the dramatic underpinnings of her role. 'I was excited to take on Bobbie Jo because I felt like she's a survivor," Katie Holmes says. 'There's still love between her and Jimmy, but she also experienced a lot of disappointment and heartbreak. I just went for it." Logan Lucky opens with an endearing car-fixing scene between Jimmy and his daughter Sadie, played with exceptional charm by young actress Farrah Mackenzie. 'Farrah Mackenzie had a wonderful spark and her little face was so compelling," says Steven Soderbergh, who met her for the first time on set after casting director Carmen Cuba selected her for the role. 'Channing Tatum has a daughter and I knew he and Farrah Mackenzie would really play off each other because he's very comfortable with kids."
Farrah Mackenzie, who was 10 at the time of filming, describes her character as a 'fun, loving, competitive little girl who likes to be beautified and loves her daddy a whole bunch." According to Tatum, the days he spent sharing scenes with Farrah Mackenzie were among his favorites of the shoot. 'Farrah Mackenzie's so free and honest," he says. 'When she looks at you, you can't help but smile."
A Mismatched Race Team
Rounding out Logan Lucky's stellar cast is comedian, writer, actor and director Seth MacFarlane, virtually unrecognisable in the role of arrogant race-team owner Max Chilblain. The creator of TV's 'Family Guy" and the Ted films, Seth MacFarlane got a simple directive from Steven Soderbergh. 'I told Seth MacFarlane, -You can go any way you want with Max as long as you remember he's one of those people where the minute he comes into the room, the molecules shift and everybody hates him. It has to be instantaneous.'"
A few weeks later, Seth MacFarlane showed up on the Logan Lucky set adorned in curly hair and mustache, speaking in a British accent " which wasn't specified in the script. 'It was perfect," Steven Soderbergh says. 'Seth MacFarlane's a comedian. He knows how to read a room so I trusted him." Obsessed with promoting his line of energy drinks, Max tangles with his healthconscious ace driver Dayton White, portrayed by Romanian-born actor Sebastian Stan.
'Dayton White's married to the purpose of winning the race, which is probably why he forms this unlikely partnership with Chilblain," says Stan. 'Everything Dayton does is geared towards being in the best condition possible physically and mentally. He looks at his body very much the way a mechanic looks at the engine of a car."
Pulling off the Heist
Logan Lucky began its 36-day shoot in late August 2016, with cast and crew headquartered in Atlanta. On hand to supervise day-to-day logistics was Oscar-winning producer Mark Johnson (Rain Man, 'Breaking Bad"). 'The biggest challenge quite frankly was keeping up with Steven Soderbergh," Mark Johnson says. 'He gets to the location in the morning and goes! Then at night, he's back at the hotel editing what was just shot. It's amazing to watch."
Primary locations included a rented trailer standing in for Jimmy Logan's West Virginia mobile home, a vacant plot of land dressed to resemble a county fair, a roadside tavern, and a former prison.
In contrast to the brightly-hued action that dominates the rest of the story, Steven Soderbergh asked Emmy-winning production designer Howard Cummings to make the penitentiary as drab as possible. 'That's really the one area where I asserted myself in terms of production design," says Steven Soderbergh. 'I wanted everything for the prison scenes to be monochromatic, so I asked our production designer Howard Cummings to paint everything gray. I had our costume designer Ellen Mirojnick make black-and-white uniforms for all the prisoners to wear."
The production's most complex sequence centers on the heist itself. Filmmakers shot at four separate locations, and the footage was stitched together during post-production to create the Charlotte Motor Speedway scenes. Steven Soderbergh spent a couple of intensive days in Concord, North Carolina, shooting at the actual track. The Atlanta Motor Speedway served as location for numerous close-ups of race cars in action. The Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta was used for the racetrack's underground tunnels. And the film's climactic burglary was filmed in a warehouse soundstage dressed with a fully functioning pneumatic tubes transport (PTT) system.
'We had a lot of discussions about the PTT," Steven Soderbergh says. 'It had to be hi-fi enough to look like a viable transport system but lo-fi enough to make it seem like these guys could hack it. There was a lot of research and development on the parts of the prop and physical effects department to make the canisters open and close themselves and be sucked back into these tubes, the way it was described in Rebecca Blunt's screenplay. I wanted to shoot it practically without having to resort to any CGI tricks in post-production."
Driver was impressed by Steven Soderbergh's trademark efficiency, which helped the cast stay focused throughout the day. 'Controlling the rhythm and momentum of the set is important to Steven Soderbergh," says the actor. 'He's operating the camera, and lighting practically everything, and directing, so he's not held ransom by anyone else's schedule. He'll just pick up the camera from this bean bag and say -Ready.' For actors, that means nobody's going to retreat back to a trailer and then come back an hour later and waste a few takes getting back into the moment."
Steven Soderbergh's fast-paced approach didn't prevent the cast from enjoying themselves on " and off " the set, however. 'It was a real brotherhood with Channing Tatum and the guys," says producer Gregory Jacobs, who has worked alongside Steven Soderbergh on nearly all of his movies dating back to 1993's King of the Hill. 'The vibe on set was very collegial, reminding me of what we saw happening with the cast on the Ocean's films."
Steven Soderbergh says the actors' off-camera rapport translated into on-screen chemistry. 'They basically formed a gang, which really comes across when you're setting up scenes. Everybody feels like it's a safe place to try stuff, whether it's a line or a piece of blocking, because you know everyone's in the same boat and rowing in the same direction."
The NASCAR Effect
No heist is complete without a formidable target, and in the case of Logan Lucky, the North Carolina NASCAR racetrack Charlotte Motor Speedway offers an epic score. Zane Stoddard, NASCAR's vice president of entertainment marketing and an executive producer on the film, offered the organization's full cooperation after Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum showed up in his Los Angeles office to explain the project. 'Charlotte Motor Speedway is a beautiful track," Stoddard says. 'Not only did the story geographically lead us to Charlotte, but it's a great representation of a world-class NASCAR facility."
Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum assured Zane Stoddard that Logan Lucky would represent NASCAR fans, and the sport itself, with respect. 'We're always prepared for stereotypical takes because a lot of people in Hollywood only have an arm's-length idea of what NASCAR is all about," Zane Stoddard says. 'The sport is considerably more sophisticated than the entertainment business sometimes understands, and so are NASCAR fans. We want to be on the inside of the joke rather than making fun of the sport."
In fact, a number of NASCAR drivers have their own cameos in the film. Ryan Blaney plays a delivery man, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are Charlotte Motor Speedway security guards, Carl Edwards is a West Virginia state trooper, Kyle Busch is a highway patrolman and Kyle Larson plays a limo driver.
Stoddard notes that the film's portrayal of racetrack cash being transported via pneumatic tubes at the Charlotte Motor Speedway is an entirely fictional conceit. 'It's far more sophisticated than what we see in the film," he says.
NASCAR officials arranged for the filmmakers to spend a couple of days at the Concord, North Carolina, track to shoot racing action and crowd scenes. Steven Soderbergh and company came and went anonymously.
Race sequences were also staged at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, where Steven Soderbergh positioned himself in the cockpit of a Porsche Cayenne and careened around the track at breakneck speeds. 'It was interesting to recreate the feeling of being inside a race," Steven Soderbergh says. 'We got out on the track with this Porsche that was specially built so we could mount cameras on it and move them around. We're doing 110 miles an hour, and as you can see in the movie, we're just inches away from the other cars. I'm in the passenger's seat with the monitor in front of me and all I can think of is, -We're going way too fast. And we're way too close to these cars.' And then you realize you're only going half as fast as the real racers. I don't know how they do it."
Fortunately for Steven Soderbergh, stunt coordinator Steve Kelso and race coordinator and driver Laurence Chavez choreographed their moves with pinpoint precision. 'When you got up into those banks and took those turns, the drivers were amazing," says the director. 'For one shot, the car had to hit the wall and go into a spin as two cars drive by on either side barely missing him. We did six takes of that and when we were done, I looked over at the skid marks and they overlaid each other exactly. They hit the same spot, did the same spin, at the same speed, six times, identically. That's crazy."
A Roots-Rocking Soundtrack
Steven Soderbergh worked with Irish composer and musician David Holmes to help him assemble music-driven montages for Logan Lucky. Holmes, a frequent Steven Soderbergh collaborator who served as composer on all of the Ocean's films and music supervisor or Ocean's Twelve and Ocean's Thirteen, made it his mission to find obscure Southern-rock songs loaded with swagger. 'After we had a general conversation about the feel of the movie, David Holmes started sending me hundreds and hundreds of tracks I'd never heard before," says the director. 'I hate when people do obvious needle drops in a movie. In the case of Logan Lucky, we use a John Denver song as a plot point but beyond that, I wanted to take a very analog approach, where the music feels very much made by human hands. To match the scale of what these guys are capable of, the songs couldn't sound expensive, they can't sound too shiny. The soundtrack needed to be rough, like it had a little bit of rust on it. And on that front, David Holmes really outdid himself."
In addition to curating pre-existing songs for the soundtrack, David Holmes composed and performed original music for the film. 'I told David Holmes, -I've got X percentage of the track laid out so now you need to create some tracks that feel like the other stuff you pulled for me,'" Steven Soderbergh explains. 'He put a little band together, recorded these pieces he wrote and scored them to the picture. It was all a very fluid process."
To add an authentic musical touch to the big race, Steven Soderbergh invited country music superstar LeAnn Rimes to perform 'America the Beautiful" at the track. Screenwriter Rebecca Blunt recommended LeAnn Rimes after seeing the child-prodigy-turned-adult-artist perform at the Indy 500. 'We wanted somebody with a great voice who might realistically be invited to perform at a NASCAR event," Steven Soderbergh says.
LeAnn Rimes performed for a few hundred extras at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, which would later be combined with cutaways to crowds at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. '-When I got to the race track, all I knew was that Steven Soderbergh was asking me to sing -America the Beautiful' and I was like, -Uh-oh, am I supposed to sing all 17 verses?" LeAnn Rimes recalls. 'I only knew two of them so I got a bit freaked out for a moment. I asked to speak to him, and Steven Soderbergh said he had no idea that there was that many verses " I just need you to sing two. I was like, thank you Jesus! Steven Soderbergh was fantastic to work with because he knows what he wants. Literally, I went onto the field and performed the song twice and that was it. I think it was the quickest thing I've ever done."
Steven Soderbergh, who included LeAnn Rimes' latest single, 'Love Is Love Is Love," in the movie, appreciated the singer's professionalism. 'LeAnn Rimes blew everybody away with her voice and the amount of control she has over that instrument," he says. 'When she finished singing we all just looked around at each other like, -I guess that's why she's LeAnn Rimes.'"
A Heist Movie with Heart
A different kind of heist film featuring the kind of blue-collar workers not often seen on the big screen, Logan Lucky succeeds as a wry, witty popcorn action comedy burnished by Steven Soderbergh's uniquely skewed directorial flourishes. 'I'm hoping audiences enjoy Logan Lucky as something that's pure entertainment and fun, but at the same time is not disposable," Steven Soderbergh says. 'I think there's enough percolating under the surface of this film to have it resonate beyond the two hours you spend watching it. A lot of times, you'll see a Hollywood picture that's like sheer gossamer; it disappears from your brain as soon as it's over. I feel like Logan Lucky is rooted enough in the real world that it won't just disappear."
Steven Soderbergh says he also looks forward to test-driving a wide-release business model uncompromised by interference from the major studios. 'With Logan Lucky," he says, 'I feel like the planets have kind of lined up for me to put out a movie in the way I've always fantasized I could."
Release Date: August 17th, 2017