There is a certain irony to Harry Dean Stanton’s final role as the titular “Lucky” in fellow character-actor John Carroll Lynch’s (Zodiac, American Horror Story) directorial debut.
This irony comes in contrast with Stanton’s own lifestyle, which over his prolific career has been portrayed as charmingly irreverent. Written by Stanton’s close personal friend and screenwriter Logan Sparks along with screenwriter Drago Sumonja, Lucky accomplishes the feat of building a film around a life lived in the acceptance of meaninglessness. Despite this very Buddhist perspective, Lucky humbly and humorously rejects the idea of any kind of Nirvana. To him, peace is unattainable, and any hauntings of the past are repressed through routine and cigarette smoke (in the film he smokes a bright orange pack of American Spirits ). Stanton’s character parallels his own life in many ways: he’s 91 years old, relatively healthy, and throughout the monotony of his daily routine reminds people that they are surely “nothing.”
These were his words to the audience at the film’s red carpet premiere at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Los Angeles, CA. Prior to the screening, director John Carroll Lynch brought Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja to the stage to commemorate Stanton and deliver his humble, and alluringly reflective message. Stanton passed on September 17, 2017, just two weeks prior to the red carpet release. In his long life, the human tendency for existential dread seemed to miss him. Lucky addresses what happens when those big questions come after 91 years of evasion.
Harry Dean Stanton was a blunt Atheist with a penchant for Nihilism, and yet managed to outlive all of his contemporaries, in-so becoming a figure of hope for those who had the privilege of knowing him.
Lucky screenwriter Logan Sparks on Harry Dean Stanton:
“In retrospect now I’m really glad we did it, it’s like a time capsule for the rest of the world to kinda get a glimpse of who he was to us, you know his essence, and I mean we gave each other this beautiful gift. Right? He gave us this amazing performance, and he’s so heartbreaking and real and we hopefully, as his friends, gave him a gift of one last rodeo you know? One last ride around the track.”
Below are our exclusive red carpet interviews:
ADAM LACANILAO: The desert, Harry Dean Stanton, those two things as characters, as living characters, how do those things lend to your script?
DRAGO SUMONJA: What I think people now, you know when they see this movie they’ll think obviously of Paris, Texas obviously because of the landscape, the nature of the landscape and the character that, but in Lucky , if I understand your question you’re asking about the desert, the character of the film. When we started to write it we very much thought, we, we completely tried to avoid anything from you know, Paris, Texas to make it any sort of, but we talked a lot about John Ford and Westerns you know, and that sort of landscape and what that kind of looked like–
LOGAN SPARKS: Now John Wayne used to look like part of the landscape, and they would frame him in Monument Valley for those low angles, like a monument himself, so we specifically went in saying ‘we want Harry to be like a cactus, like a tortoise.’ Like the desert has a way of making everything efficient you know, nothing leaves there is gonna last too long, and so it wittles you down to the essence of what you are–
ADAM LACANILAO: He’s in his underwear…
LOGAN SPARKS: –he’s in his underwear! He’s a skin and bones man. And the cactus is, you know, is, the most lush thing you’re gonna see there and the most, you know, energetic animal you’re gonna see is a tortoise and Harry Dean is, is part of that if anything he is part of that landscape.
DRAGO SUMONJA: Our thought of Harry and our influence of Harry, or what we think of him and how we regard Harry is you know, is told through the character of Howard. You know, so Howard talking about President Roosevelt, I mean Harry to us is President Roosevelt he’s this creature that was you know —
LOGAN SPARKS: He’s been there forever! He’s like a tortoise for us you know, he was in his 50’s when we were born!
The premiere was co-presented by Vidiots. It is now playing.