At “The Old Man and the Gun” premiere, the cast and crew discuss the making of the film, Robert Redford and more.
At the red carpet premiere for the new film The Old Man & the Gun at New York’s City Cinema Paris Theater, we at The Knockturnal were able to talk to the cast and director of the film about making the heist movie, working with Robert Redford, and what this movie means to them. The Old Man and the Gun is the (semi-)true story of Forrest Tucker, a career bank robber who broke out of jail over a dozen times in his life and continued to rob banks well into his 70s. The film, which was written and directed by David Lowery, stars Robert Redford as Tucker, Sissy Spacek, Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tika Sumpter and more.
The Knockturnal: You’re in what’s likely to be Robert Redford’s last movie. What’s that mean to you? Did you want to work with him?
Sissy Spacek (“Jewel”): I wanted to work with him [for years], and when I found out this was going to be his last film, I was like “Oh my god! I’ve got to do this!”
David Lowery (Writer/Director): I try not to think about it too much, because when we were making the movie I just had to think every single day about how “oh, this is the last time he’s going to get on a horse in a film” or “this is the last time he’s going to drive away from the scene of a crime in a movie.” I just couldn’t think about those things. So now that the movie is done and he’s sticking to his guns and continuing to say this is it for him, it really gets very emotional for me.
Isiah Whitlock (“Det. Gene Dentler”): I did a movie with Robert Redford a couple of years ago called Pete’s Dragon [directed by David Lowery], so I guess I was in two [of the last] movies. So I’m honored to help close the book… if the book is really closed.
Tika Sumpter (“Maureen”): [When I got on set] I knocked on the door of his trailer and I was like, “you mean the world to me!” I told him that my film was at Sundance two years ago and a lot of people wouldn’t get that opportunity. And it got sold, and that was my first producing gig. So that really affected my life.
The Knockturnal: Mr. Redford, will this be your last film?
Robert Redford (“Forrest Tucker”): I think it was a mistake to say that. I will still be directing and producing… If I’m going to retire I’ll slip quietly. People pay too much attention to that instead of to the film and the character himself.
The Knockturnal: What was it like working with Robert Redford?
Sissy Spacek (“Jewel”): It was great! He’s a pro, he’s a gentleman, he’s always prepared… He’s like lightning in a bottle.
Isiah Whitlock (“Det. Gene Dentler”): He is very nice. He’s a gentleman.
Tika Sumpter (“Maureen”): Amazing! He’s spectacular. It’s just nice to see him in a very normal space. He’s reading a newspaper, he’s very chill and you’re just watching him like he’s an animal. He does everything we do, except he’s spectacular.
David Lowery (Writer/Director): [I was] very nervous at first. The first time I ever directed him, I was very much like “Well Mr. Redford, would you mind doing another take for me?” and he was like “Please. Call me Bob.” And from that point forward, the nervousness evaporated. He knows how to put you at ease, too. He’s an amazing director in his own right, and as a director, I was thinking that he could just tell me how to direct a scene and I would listen to him. But he really trusted me to tell the story the way I wanted to tell it.
The Knockturnal: What do you want audiences to take away from The Old Man & the Gun?
Tika Sumpter (“Maureen”): I want them to have a good time. I want them to sit back and cuddle up like this is their favorite blanket. I think everyone’s going to enjoy it. I want you to smile like did through the movie.
The Knockturnal: What made you want to make The Old Man & the Gun in the first place
Robert Redford (“Forrest Tucker”): Just the story itself and the character. And the fact that it was true.
Isiah Whitlock (“Det. Gene Dentler”): David is incredible. He’s an incredible director, and when you see someone like that you kinda latch on and you want to work with him anytime you get that call. Fortunately, I got that call to make this film, and I had a feeling it would be Redford’s last. So I really wanted to do it, but mostly wanted to work with David.
The Knockturnal: Ms. Spacek, you’ve been having a great year between this and Castle Rock and there was a music video with you that dropped this past week. What does this year and this movie mean to you?
Sissy Spacek (“Jewel”): This has been a big year, and it’s been exciting to have so many wonderful characters to work on. It thrills me, and I’ve been doing it for so long. And I still love it, I still have opportunities. You know, I got to revisit Stephen King! And that was just the greatest. And I got to fall in love with Robert Redford, and that was sooo easy!
The Knockturnal: Mr. Lowery, you’ve worked with Robert on Pete’s Dragon, you’ve worked with Casey Affleck a few times, with Isiah Whitlock a few times. You’re building yourself a repertoire of actors you use again and again. Was that intentional, or something that just slowly happened?
David Lowery (Writer/Director): When you find someone you like, you just want to work with them again because it’s fun to hang out. It doesn’t feel like work. So whether they’re actors or the technicians behind the scenes, I just really try to build a family I take with me from one film to the next
The Knockturnal: Every film you’ve directed to date has had a very interesting logline to it, whether it be “A remake of a 70s Disney movie” or “Casey Affleck wears a sheet.” The thing that people talk about the movie is separate from the movie itself, with emotional depth beyond what people say about the movie. Is that something you try to do, taking on riskier projects?
David Lowery (Writer/Director): There’s something that pops, yeah. I think the thing is I always want to challenge myself. And the more challenging projects are the ones that sound more scary or have some crazy idea that could go horribly wrong. Like, every one of my movies could have fallen flat on its face, and that’s what makes them worth making to me.
The Knockturnal: You’re making a movie with an older cast of actors that have been around for generations, and you’re making it in what is some of their home states, a down-home country-fried kind of movie. Do you like going back to their home— and your home too—of Texas and the south?
David Lowery (Writer/Director): I like to make movies in my backyard, it’s really comfortable for me to do that because it’s really familiar and I know it. And I love when the cast and crews that I bring together enjoy coming with me. It makes, again, a family atmosphere. And to make films set where I live, it really matters to me.
In select theaters Friday, September 28.