John Michael McDonagh War On Everyone
Cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Theo James, Tessa Thompson
Director: John Michael McDonagh
Running Time: 98 minutes
Synopsis: Director John McDonagh (Calvary, The Guard) delivers once again with this politically incorrect, bad cop-bad cop black comedy.
War On Everyone follows corrupt cops Terry Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård) and Bob Bolaño (Michael Peña) as they break the law for a living in New Mexico. Terry is an alcoholic who loves Glen Campbell, and Bob is a closet intellectual who loves his wife and kids.
When Terry and Bob try to shake down strip-club manager Birdwell (Caleb Landry Jones), the crooked pair come up against criminal kingpin, James Mangan (Theo James). Things then get very, very personal. It's not about the money anymore. Terry and Bob put everything on the line for the sake of an innocent, and shooting their way to rough justice turns out to be their unlikely redemption.
War On Everyone
Release Date: November 17th, 2016
About The Production
About The Film
Award-winning British writer-director John Michael McDonagh crosses the globe for his much-anticipated third film, War On Everyone, a jet-black action comedy starring Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña and Theo James. The buddy crime caper was filmed on location in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with a final week in Reykjavik, Iceland.
The film is produced by Chris Clark (Legend, Calvary, The Guard), Flora Fernandez Marengo (Calvary, The Guard, The Betrayal), and co-produced by Elizabeth Eves (Calvary) for Reprisal Films. Phil Hunt (Belle) and Compton Ross (Trishna) also produce for Head Gear Films, with the support of the BFI Film Fund.
War On Everyone is about two corrupt cops in New Mexico who set out to blackmail and frame every criminal unfortunate enough to cross their path. Things take a sinister turn, however, when they try to intimidate someone who is more dangerous than they are. Or is he?
Known for his distinctively witty sensibility and confrontational humour, McDonagh previously wrote and directed the acclaimed drama Calvary, starring Brendan Gleeson, and the offbeat comedy The Guard, also starring Gleeson, with Don Cheadle, which became a worldwide sleeper hit.
War On Everyone Alexander Skarsgård (Tarzan, Melancholia, True Blood), stars Michael Peña (Ant-Man, Fury, End of Watch), and Theo James (Insurgent, Divergent). Joining in supporting roles are Tessa Thompson (Selma, Dear White People), Malcolm Barrett (The Hurt Locker, My Best Friend's Girl), Caleb Landry Jones (X Men: First Class, God's Pocket), Paul Reiser (Concussion, Whiplash), Stephanie Sigman (Spectre, Miss Bala) and David Wilmot (The Guard, Calvary, -71).
McDonagh commented upon the start of production: 'It gives me great pleasure to declare War On Everyone with my fellow combatants, Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña. We look forward to the battles ahead, and we will go on with a spirit that fears nothing. That's Homer, by the way."
Behind-the-scenes talent on War On Everyone is led by cinematographer Bobby Bukowski (99 Homes, Rosewater, Rampart), production designer Wynn Thomas (A Beautiful Mind, Analyze This), costume designer Terry Anderson (Jane Got a Gun, Blood Father), casting by Sarah Finn (Ant-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy), and New Mexico casting by Jo Edna Boldin (Transcendence, No Country For Old Men).
Bankside Films handles international sales and co-represents domestic rights with CAA and UTA jointly. Bankside has completed major territory pre-sales to Icon Films in the UK, Icon Film Distribution in Australia/New Zealand, and to Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions for Latin America, Benelux, Spain, Portugal, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and selected international territories.
When I was asked at Q&A's for Calvary about the projects I was developing, and I mentioned War On Everyone I said that it was 'The French Connection meets Hellzapoppin'."
I was only being partly facetious. War On Everyone is a buddy-buddy black comedy with a -70s feel to it, outlandish visual and verbal humour, left-field narrative turns, and the music of Glen Campbell. The Guard and Calvary were directed in a measured, contemplative style, relevant to the subject matter. War On Everyone has a very different dynamic, one of quick-paced scenes followed by calm, contemplative moments. Stand-out shots are used at certain points as filmic exclamation marks. The tired grammar of shot-reverse-shot is largely dispensed with.
Locations and sets are intensely stylised.
The performances are naturalistic and improvisatory, but also slightly surreal. As Stanley Kubrick once said to Jack Nicholson during the filming of a scene in The Shining, 'It's true, Jack, but it's not interesting." Of course, the most important thing here is emphasising the relationships: between Bob and Terry, Bob and his family, and Terry and Jackie. As Bob and Terry's public actions are often morally suspect, their private interactions become more resonant as a way of creating sympathy for them with the audience. If other people love them, then hopefully the audience will too.
Interview with John Michael McDonagh, Director
Question: What was the genesis of War On Everyone?
John Michael McDonagh: I was drunk. I wanted to tell a funny story about two corrupt cops and have the audience be on their side. Question: How hard was it to get made?
John Michael McDonagh: My previous two films –– The Guard and Calvary –– were both successful internationally, so it wasn't too difficult raising the financing once cast was attached.
Question: Was it always meant to be set in the American Southwest and what intrigues you about this part of the world?
John Michael McDonagh: It's a contemporary Western, in a sense, so the story was always intended to be set in either Texas or New Mexico. The tax breaks available in New Mexico intrigued me more than the tax breaks available in Texas.
Question: Why the Glen Campbell songs? Does he represent an enduring country pop take on Americana for you?
John Michael McDonagh: Glen Campbell represents a melancholy -70s existentialist mood. Also, the songs are great.
Question: Would you say that at its essence, this is an anarchistic, antiauthoritarian, buddy crime picture?
John Michael McDonagh: Um. Yes.
Question: Are there heroes and villains in this story, or is everyone good and bad, and morality a subjective concept?
John Michael McDonagh: No, morality is not a subjective concept. There are heroes in this world, and there are villains.
Question: What sort of visual world did you create for the movie in Albuquerque?
John Michael McDonagh: The visual world is William Eggleston meets René Magritte.
Question: Confess: which character is most like you?
John Michael McDonagh: Reggie X.
Question: What unique qualities do Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Peña, and Theo James bring to their roles?
John Michael McDonagh: I don't know. But what I do know is, when I lick them, they taste of candy.
The Movie Takes Shape
Irish-born and English-raised writer-director John Michael McDonagh began talking about the script for his long-germinating War On Everyone after the release of 2011's The Guard, which grossed more than $20 million worldwide, and before the release of 2014's Calvary, which won nine awards and garnered another 22 nominations on the film festival circuit and from critics groups.
By July 2014, McDonagh was discussing War On Everyone with press outlets like Screen Daily and IndieWire, describing it as 'The French Connection but with more jokes" and revealing that Michael Peña had signed on in one of the two lead roles. IndieWire commented, 'No one quite mixes drama and comedy in quite the same thick black concoction as John Michael McDonagh, so we'll be watching." Producers Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo, who partner with John Michael McDonagh and his wife, co-producer Elizabeth Eves, in Reprisal Films, and who had produced John Michael McDonagh's two earlier films, reteamed with John Michael McDonagh to develop War On Everyone with him.
The pitch? 'We'd say, `It's John Michael McDonagh doing corrupt cops. And people would get it," says producer Chris Clark.
According to Chris Clark, 'It's about corruption anywhere. Audiences can identify with and enjoy wickedness. These guys have very funny lines. They deal with other bad guys, with criminal elements, but I think at the end of the day, being witty with the world means you like them. They also do redeem themselves, to a point, by going up against and deciding to bring down Mangan. He's somebody worse than them!"
Quips producer Flora Fernandez Marengo, 'Alcohol was at the genesis. Always alcohol at the genesis of any John Michael McDonagh project."
The script became increasingly resonant when John Michael McDonagh fine-tuned it for the American Southwest. Remembers Clark, 'It just felt right when he did a draft set in the U.S. John likes Texas and the New Mexico landscape. We came to America to scout, and John really liked it. All along, even in the previous incarnations, there was always Glen Campbell music. John personally loves Glen Campbell. There's a sort of melancholia about Glen Campbell and John's always been fascinated by the -70s."
The project could be considered inspired by such diverse influences as those tough, no-nonsense -70s crime films like The French Connection, the British detective TV series The Sweeney, and classic American buddy cop series like Starsky and Hutch, with its witty repartee and laconic knockabout camaraderie. But mostly, it's a McDonagh postmodern comedy brimming with literary and cultural references: Glen Campbell, The Clash, feminist Simone de Beauvoir, magicians Siegfried and Roy, and anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti are all bantered about by the movie's characters.
In late 2014, Head Gear Films and the BFI joined the project with funding, with Head Gear's sister company, Bankside Films, introducing the project to buyers at the American Film Market and starting presales in key territories.
Coming To America
At the end of 2014, the filmmakers decided on Albuquerque, New Mexico, as the primary filmmaking site, impressed by its population mix, urban locations, lingering spirit of -70s Americana, and its tax incentives. 'When John set the film in the US, he wanted to shoot in a city with a big Hispanic population. He wanted racial currents as part of the texture of the film," says Chris Clark.
The filmmakers opened a production office and John Michael McDonagh went about soaking up the Southwest.
The fact that New Mexico was the site of so many classic Westerns like Lonely Are the Brave and The Cowboys seemed apt. Clark points out, 'The big ending of War On Everyone has a Western feel to it with the shootout. John is definitely influenced by Westerns. Will the heroes survive or not? They go to what could be their death, just like in John's previous films."
John Michael McDonagh set about conquering this new terrain. Observes Chris Clark, 'He goes into the bigger world of modern America with all its landscapes, the rough and smooth, the beauty and the beast. It's all there. Plus it's guys with guns, guys doing real damage to people. You turn up the volume to 10 when you come to America. In the UK, it doesn't feel right to do that. Here, you're in a bigger, vaster world so it works perfectly."
As for the social commentary, 'Some people will just find it a broad comedy," speculates Chris Clark, 'and some people will find it satirical, like it's making a comment on society, sort of bad cop, bad cop."
At its essence, describes Chris Clark, 'This film is a commercial buddy comedy but equally it's got all the hallmarks of John Michael McDonagh, where he takes you further into character and emotions. There's always going to be an art house element in John's films even if it is a laugh-out-loud comedy, which this is. John takes character seriously and he's a really skillful combiner of tone. He can go from broad comedy into something serious very quickly and he can write real emotion."
John Michael McDonagh wrote the character of police officer Bob Bolaño with Michael Peña in mind. The role was offered to Michael Peña. He accepted, the first to be cast!
'It's a completely different tone than I've ever read. It's my kind of humor. Our guys go up against the real bad guys," Michael Peña reflects, while on-set filming. 'I'm one of two police officers who really don't give a shit about anything. It's a comedy but they're taking control. It's like Robin Hood-esque. They're stealing from criminals. They don't steal from good people."
The rest of the cast came together quickly afterwards.
Irish actor David Wilmot, a John Michael McDonagh regular who's appeared in his two earlier movies, signed on as snitch Padraic.
Caleb Landry Jones was contacted for the part of the high-strung henchman Birdwell and accepted. 'The script was fucking hilarious. So many jabs!" says Caleb Laundry Jones.
Tessa Thompson joined as dancer Jackie, who becomes Terry's romantic interest. Tessa Thompson's attraction to the film? 'We get to say big words and talk about big concepts and do adult things – you know, sex and shooting guns – but the spirit of it is very playful."
Stephanie Sigman undertook the role of Dolores, Bob's wife, sparking to the project because, 'It's funny, it's unique, it's a dark comedy. John Michael McDonagh has a very unique style."
Paul Reiser had years ago told John Michael McDonagh he wanted a role in one of his films. Paul Reiser was offered the part of Lieut. Stanton, who is Terry and Bob's commanding office. Appreciating that, 'The scenes were written with this fast rat-a-tat dialogue that John writes so well--the writing is funny and smart," Paul Reiser signed on.
True Blood star Alexander Skarsgård was offered the leading role of police officer Terry, a role unlike any he'd ever done. 'When I first read the script, I thought it was so out there. I loved it," he says. 'I've been wanting to do a comedy for a while. It was just about finding the right tone. And knowing John's work like The Guard, which is really funny and intelligent and witty and smart, I felt that War On Everyone had a lot of those qualities."
As production revved up, Theo James, hot off the success of Insurgent, at the time the number-one film in America, signed on for the pivotal part of criminal mastermind Mangan. Says James, 'I was sent the script. I'm a big fan of John Michael McDonagh's. The script is excellent and very different in an interesting way. It has all the things I love – the old-school buddy cops and the concept of two guys who actually don't give a fuck and have this kind of hyper-subversive, quite dangerous humour, then behind it is a blackness and intelligence and questions of morality. And John services all the characters quite well so they feel embodied and full with a little colour for every character."
Lastly came Malcolm Barrett for the out-there role of ex-cri minal Reggie X, possessed of an ambiguous sexuality. Malcolm Barrett confides, 'The scariest thing about this was figuring out the tone. It's definitely a lot lighter than John Michael McDonagh's previous movies, but still has the same amount of bloodshed. It's a dark crime caper. Very dark and weird. John Michael McDonagh's very smart."
Nine Quirky Characters
On set in Albuquerque in April 2014, the cast further developed their characters during the intense six-week shoot.
Alexander Skarsgård on police officer Terry Monroe: 'He's a detective and he feels that his purpose in life is to serve and protect… himself! He likes Glen Campbell, he likes beer, he likes whiskey, and he likes his friend Bob. And that's pretty much it. The challenging part is to find the humanity. It's a comedy and there are a lot of very funny moments, but in many ways he's a very tragic character with a very dark history and a lot of the things he does in the story are horrible. So as an actor, it's been a challenge to distill that and make him likable. It's important that people care about Bob and Terry and their relationship, even though they are very corrupt and in many ways very selfish. When you first meet Terry, he's very lonely. He's got a beautiful house and a great car but he's got nobody to share that with. So he spends most of his time at Bob's house. Bob is everything to Terry. He's lost without Bob. Bob is his partner, his best friend, and his family. The first thing Terry does when he gets up is open a beer, and then he drives over to Bob's house."
Michael Peña on police officer Bob Bolaño: 'Bob goes outside the law a little bit, but he really cares about his family. I'm thinking Bob doesn't get along with a whole lot of people. He likes to have his family close. Bob's strengths are that he's really good at talking to people and getting them to do what he wants. He makes a lot of empty threats. That's worked for him for a long time. Terry is like the muscle. It kind of reminds me in a weird way of Midnight Cowboy and I'm the Hoffman character."
Theo James on criminal mastermind Mangan: 'He's the clever pompous villain of the piece, a very intelligent gangster and also a Brit. He essentially masterminds a big robbery. Terry and Bob are two cops trying to get money to retire and they're at loggerheads with him as a result. Mangan is a distinctive human being. He has a love for the most decadent and worst things in life, from women to narcotics to death to inflicting pain on others. He's a lord and he's living in America, so he's a fish out of water, yet he controls this town with an iron fist. He likes to think of himself as hyper intelligent, but we'll see if he wins or not. Terry and Bob discover Mangan late in the story because they're going up this food chain of these low-level criminals, to people helping Mangan, to Birdwell, until finally they realize the mastermind is Mangan."
Caleb Landry Jones on henchman Birdwell: 'I play a sucker named Birdwell. He is Mangan's main bad guy. I carry out a lot of his orders, things he can't be bothered to deal with. Birdwell's done too many drugs and the effects are still lingering in him. He's strung out. He's a dodgy motherfucker. He's tough enough to hang in around Mangan and do the job. He's dangerous because he's crazy. He's a cracked sociopath. I'm the dude that does the dirty deeds."
Malcolm Barrett on ex-criminal Reggie X: 'He's forayed into less than lawful endeavors before and he's connected to some of these things that the officers Terry and Bob want to know about as they try to figure out this heist to get the money. I'm the closest to making that happen because I know some things and I know some people. Reggie is sort of conflicted. He's a five-percenter but he's also gay or not gay. His strength is he's a smart guy. His weakness is he doesn't always know how to make that translate into what's going around and make the best decisions. He's trying to find his way and make sense of things and trying to find happiness and trying to make a buck. Reggie's an opportunist. It's good because it gets him some things but it also gets him into trouble."
Tessa Thompson on dancer Jackie who becomes Terry's girlfriend: 'She's someone Terry can spar with. In John's movies, he likes to talk about art and literature and she's somebody who does that. She's somebody looking for something and Terry's somebody looking for something, and they find it together in this very unorthodox way. I think of her as a rehabilitated bad girl. She used to dance in a strip club. She's not from Albuquerque but she landed here. She's been very many places in her life. She's continually interested in the world and asking questions. She's smart and curious and silly and hungry. Really hungry."
David Wilmot on snitch Padraic: 'He's a career criminal, kind of a snitch, who helps out our heroes on their way to the money. He enjoys tennis, marijuana, pornography, and dance machines at the arcades. His intellectual weakness would be for the Rasta religion. You've got to have an intellectual weakness to be a Rasta because it's kind of medieval. And he suffers from dyslexia. My relationship with Reggie X is complex. We met in prison in the showers. There is love there, there's cruelty, and heart."
Stephanie Sigman on Dolores, Bob's wife: 'Dolores is a mom, a wife, a feminist, and she enjoys herself as a woman. She reads, she knows about a lot of things, and that makes her sexy for Bob. She's a Latina and the boss of the house. She likes to drink with Bob and maybe smoke a joint. They have fun together." Paul Reiser on Lieut. Stanton: 'I play Terry and Bob's commanding officer, who is not very commanding. I am the guy who basically has to yell at them and gets disrespected at every turn. I'm just a guy trying to do his job right, and I have Terry and Bob making it difficult. I'm a very solid soldier in the war against crime. It's only in the eyes of these two pinheads that I am sort of the antichrist. These guys are just constantly busting my chops."
These Wheels Were Made For Cruisin'
That wild ride is epitomized by the heroes' cars. Terry drives the last of the muscle cars: a flashy two-door 1970 Monte Carlo coupe in Nassau blue. Bob, being a family man, tools around in a more reserved 1989 Ford LTD four-door sedan in metallic brown. Assesses Anderson, 'They're classic American cars that don't really exist in Europe. You just don't see them there. We see these cars here and they're usually all beaten up because someone can't afford to buy a modern car. But the way they look in the movie, they're such iconic American cars!"
Designing The Look, From The High Desert To The Icelandic Coast
Writer/director John Michael McDonough created a stylized world for War On Everyone, paring down environments and splashing them with singular bright colors.
'John likes the look of Pedro Almodovar movies. Almodovar's movies are very stylized. The challenge was to find a way to use color in an interesting way yet still respect the realistic tone of this movie," says production designer Wynn Thomas. 'We looked at a lot of crime movies from the -60s and -70s, like The French Connection, for its visual style & tone. And we used the photo work of William Eggleston & Phillip-Lorca diCorcia as visual references. There is a starkness & simplicity to the work of both these photographers."
Contemporary American photographer Eggleston is known for using bold colors in spare, un-cluttered environments. Phillip-Lorca diCorcia, also a contemporary American photographer, stages compositions to achieve the effect of theatrically enhanced documentaries. Both photographers take a minimalist approach.
McDonagh describes the visual look of War On Everyone as 'William Eggleston meets René Magritte." A Belgian artist during the first half of the 20th century, Magritte was known for his conceptual surrealistic images that challenged perceptions of reality in a clever way through juxtapositions.
War On Everyone shot from mid-April to mid-May 2015 for 31 days, with 28 of them in the high desert of Albuquerque, which is the largest city in New Mexico with a metro area population of about 900,000. The Rio Grande runs through Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains are situated alongside the eastern edge of the city. Most of the filming took place on location. The movie utilized about 40 different locations in Albuquerque, with frequent company moves. McDonagh sketched storyboards for every scene.
McDonagh went on numerous scouting trips, afterwards modifying some scenes to make use of locations like the Sandia Peak Tram car as it goes up and down in the mountains while Terry and Jackie get closer, and the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum for a meeting that the thugs hold in a public space.
Location manager John Lucas offers, 'The director wanted an urban Albuquerque look, almost an abstraction, like Albuquerque is a blank canvas for the comedy."
For Terry's upscale house, McDonagh chose a hard-edged modern contemporary home in the far northeast heights of Albuquerque abutting Sandia Pueblo Indian land with its vast views of emptiness. The location for Bob's house was found in the Country Club neighborhood: it's a large -50s modern ranch house.
The race track scenes were filmed at The Downs Racetrack & Casino with a mix of actual racehorses and production horses.
For the scene where Terry and Jackie discuss death by jellyfish, production ventured outside into the high desert of To'Hajiilee Indian Pueblo.
Much of the film is set in Albuquerque's seedy downtown bars and alleys. There, describes Lucas, 'John didn't want anything Southwest looking. No nature. He always wanted to chop down the trees. He wanted a gritty, sooty look. The locations we picked he wanted to shoot mostly as they were. In the pool hall, all he wanted was for the plants to be removed. We even kept the names of some of the places. He didn't want a lot of changes."
Many of the locations – including the Andoyne pool hall, Knockout's strip club, The Library Bar & Grill, Posh Nightclub (which serves as Mangan's club), and the Hyatt Regency Forque Kitchen & Bar (where Terry & Bob interrupt Mangan's meal with Japanese clients) – – are in a four-block radius of downtown Albuquerque.
The boxing gym at Jack Candelaria Community Center is a real boxing gym where noted Albuquerque boxer Johnny Tapia trained. The church is St. John's Cathedral in downtown Albuquerque. The diner is Hurricane's Restaurant. The firing range is an actual firing range called Calibers, and Dolores's hair salon is likewise a real salon called Oooh Girl.
After wrapping in Albuquerque, a small unit of cast and crew flew north to Reykjavik, Iceland, to shoot the scenes where Terry and Bob hunt down Reggie, and where they visit the Blue Lagoon Spa, a famous geothermal hot springs.
Costumes Emphasizing Americana
Costume designer Terry Anderson (Jane Got a Gun) presented John Michael McDonagh with iconic musical and pop-culture images as references for the costumes.
Terry Anderson surmises, 'He references The Clash in the movie so I took it from a musical place. I keyed in on how The Clash were trying to look like Elvis Presley. Many of the English rockers in the -80s were trying to look like Elvis. That's how I came upon the retro look of this movie. I wanted Albuquerque to look like a rockabilly version of Albuquerque, as opposed to a Southwest cowboy version."
Reasons Terry Anderson, 'Because John Michael McDonagh used the music of Glen Campbell, I tried to let that influence the Southwest look of the movie, meaning that's where it gets its retro style. If he likes Glen Campbell, then Terry's Western shirt would be from that period, the -50s. So Terry Anderson goes to the cable car in a vintage 1950s expensive collectible cowboy shirt that he's wearing nonchalantly."
Terry Anderson also wears the brown embroidered vintage cowboy shirt with jeans, cowboy boots, and a cowboy hat when he flirts with Jackie as she practices her baton routine in the football field. 'I tried to give it a Southwest flair without it being rodeo or common wrangler-cowboy," Anderson points out.
Overall, Terry Anderson says, 'I tried for an Elvis-in-Memphis/The Clash look and that became modern Albuquerque. There's a youthfulness and rebellion to it. There's a disrespect for and mistrust of the law." As scripted, Terry and Bob wear flashy suits on the job, not uniforms or sport coats. How Anderson reasoned that out was, 'I based them on the Kray brothers, the famous London gang members in the `60s. They dressed very sharp in that `60s style. Terry and Bob are never hiding that they're stealing money. So they have an extravagance and they don't care, and there's a kind of ridiculousness to them not getting caught. So Bob and Terry have a bravado about them. They wear suits whereas the other cops wear sport coats and look like [American TV character] Barney Miller."
Terry's three-piece suits are specifically based on English soccer player-turned-sports columnist Jamie Redknapp, known for wearing vests that are cut low and scooped down. Terry usually slouches, like he's given up on himself. Terry Anderson notes, 'There's a dapperness to Terry's clothes, but he doesn't care. He has a complete disregard for wearing them." His suits are mostly solid black or blue, with a solid-colored tie: 'He has a slick, slimmed-down silhouette, and he wears boots with lug soles because he breaks down doors and he's sort of the thug of the two of them."
Bob wears suits in deep, rich colors, accented by jewel-toned shirts in purple and bright blue. He wears classic three-piece suits with a vest and dress shoes. Describes Terry Anderson, 'He's very put together. He always wears his gun and his watch chain. Michael says the cops he knows that are Hispanic, dress nicer than the white cops, in a way, to get respect. He always has a neatness about him, as opposed to Terry who's hunched over and half drunk."
At home, Bob dons an idiosyncratic long black samurai kimono with a metallic gold dragon. Explains Anderson, 'He's the samurai of the house. His family wears silk pajamas at home. They're that kind of family. Then he wears socks with his house slippers like Michael's father did in real life." The way Terry Anderson figures it, 'Since we have these two cops going crazy shooting at thugs, I thought in order for this movie to make sense and for these guys not to be insane, the whole town has to be kind of crazy. We never intended this movie to be a snapshot of how Albuquerque really is. That's how I got to the stylization."
For Mangan, portrayed by Theo James, Anderson reasons, 'He's incredibly rich and incredibly smart and incredibly decadent, so all his clothes have to beautiful with a little twist. So in the five-star restaurant for the business lunch, he's wearing a beautiful linen suit with a white shirt and a toile tie that's like a Day of the Dead pattern: it's white with a blue print of skeletons. He's very genteel. He always looks perfectly put together. At the racetrack, he's all in linen." Mangan's outfits are sometimes topped off with a Liberty of London pocket square. In general, 'Mangan is calculated, cool, and serene," Anderson suggests.
Mangan's henchman Birdwell is the most flamboyantly attired character of the film, often wearing yellow. 'When John Michael McDonagh said Birdwell was in a crazy -70s costume, I went to a classic picture of Rod Stewart in his prime," Anderson says.
With Jackie, Anderson let her back-story inspire him: 'She learned to dance in Barcelona, so I tried to give her a boho look. At Terry's house, she's wearing a classic -50s embroidered peasant blouse with hot pants that were actually part of a -70s bathing suit. She wears heels with it. And she wears stripper heels while walking in the desert." When practicing baton twirling on the football field, she wears a majorette jacket with gold braid that was influenced by British rocker Adam Ant. And in the salon, she wears tight black jeans and a black crocheted jacket with suede panels.
While Jackie favors black and red, Michael's wife Dolores goes for white and red. At the salon, she's wearing a white midriff top, tight white jeans, beaded Indian belt, turquoise and silver jewelry, and high heels, in a Southwest homage to Ralph Lauren. Proposes Terry Anderson, 'I thought of her as a Latina trophy wife. That's how I dressed her. She's taller than Bob, she spends all the money happily, she's always beautifully dressed, and the kids have a crazy home life. She wears red quite a bit. Everything she wears is very body conscious because she's such a knockout."
A sense of Americana is accentuated with the women's' turquoise and silver jewelry. 'Knowing John's Irish and grew up in London, and their love of Americana, I wanted to pack this movie with as much Americana as I could. So when John takes the film back to England, it really looks like a slice of what you want it to be, not what it actually is," Anderson offers.
The color red dominates the movie-Jackie's red jacket, red pool hall tables, matching bright red track suits for Padraic and Reggie, Terry's red vintage bowling shirt when he dances with Jackie, even Mangan's red shirt, red tie, and red sox, as he's seated on a red sofa for the movie's climactic confrontation. Anderson proposes, 'Red is striking. I was always trying for striking images in this movie. What John wrote was striking images. Even the mime is in black-and-white. I was always trying for what would have the most visual impact. John loves composition and color!"
Mostly, there are strong, solid colors, with very little green, pastels, or prints. Anderson says, 'The idea was Albuquerque is blue sky and a lot of brown, so the color was up to the costume design and whatever the production design painted. The compositions are simple and striking"no clutter! John takes away. At the beginning of every scene, we're clearing stuff away, eliminating. He's bold! In terms of tone, I stylized it because the action is so extreme. It's not a slice of real life. It's not subtle. We're on a wild ride with these guys!"
The John Michael Mcdonagh Way
Production on War On Everyone went smoothly, with filming each day typically running 12 to 13 hours. Producer Chris Clark, who's made three feature films with John Michael McDonagh now, observes, 'John Michael McDonagh is very funny. He has amazing control over tone. He writes great dialogue and vivid characters. As a director, he's incredibly well prepared. He does his own storyboards. He thinks about everything deeply, how he'll approach it. And he trusts his actors so there's no endless debates. He finds a rhythm quickly on set." The actors concur. Says Alexandra Skarsgård, 'It's a buddy movie and it was very important to John for us to find our rhythm and that relationship, and that interesting dichotomy between Bob and Terry, and make that real and our own. It's a dark, twisted comedy and that's what I loved about the script tonally. It's a cop buddy movie, but it's not generic." For instance, as Alexandra Skarsgård pondered Terry's relationship with the better-informed Bob, he decided, 'There are moments when Terry asks Bob, `Why are you always looking out for me?' Because he doesn't get it. He doesn't understand why Bob likes him back."
Peña appreciates the collaborative process. 'I give John so many ideas, and he says, `That's good, that's good, I don't like that," says Michael Peña. 'A lot of writer-directors are very precious with their own scripts, but John's down for it. I wanted to not go too crazy with the humor and try to ground it as much as possible. So I rehearsed it a lot by myself, rehearsing the feelings. I reread the script a lot."
Most importantly, Michael Peña keys in his character's rapport with his partner: 'Terry's like my brother. He's kind of a tormented kid from his past. Even though Terry's the bigger guy, Bob takes on the big brother role. Terry's just like part of my family. He comes in and gets a beer like he does it all the time. Even my wife treats him like part of the family."
Another feeling Michael Peña explores is the cops' dislike of Mangan, which prompts their extreme behavior towards him: 'They don't like this guy Mangan for a reason. He comes in one day and acts highly posh and very passive aggressive and covertly hostile. I think Bob gets really annoyed that somebody thinks they're outsmarting him. As a cop, he probably loathes that part of Mangan. `Oh, you think this is your town?' This is our town!"
Responds Theo James, 'The cops test Mangan, but he's almost amused by their daring." James appreciates the dialogue as written by McDonagh, commenting, 'It's lyrically written so it's easy to place. It kind of rolls."
Malcolm Barrett, who plays Reggie, notices, 'On set, John is reading all the time. The amount of references he has are so wide and such an array from all over the place. John also understands moments and how things change and evolve, which is code for, he lets me ad lib sometimes! He has a vision but he's not rigid in his vision."
Likewise, comments Tessa Thompson, who plays Jackie, 'John has a cool way of staying back and letting you work. You get the storyboards so you have a clear idea of what he wants, but he also has a real flexibility." On a personal level, Thompson says, 'John's extremely well-read and well-watched and I assume, well-traveled. He's a man of the world and very astute. But he's also a dude who drinks beer and says, `Did you see the game?' on set."
Watching the movie take shape, producer Clark was impressed with the cast. 'Alex is the perfect Terry. He has a danger and charm about him, but you know he could completely destroy you. Alex can be physically intimidating if he wants to be, but also he's got a softer side," Clark reflects. 'Michael is so funny yet he's got this emotional side." As for Theo James, 'He's brought a real edge to the role. He's brought more scariness to this character, but he's done it with wit."
War On Everyone
Release Date: November 17th, 2016