INTERVIEW: Filmmaker Timothy Woodward Jr. Talks ‘Hickok’
A discussion about the latest story of Wild Bill starring Luke Hemsworth.
Timothy Woodward Jr. is an actor, director and producer, working in the business for over ten years. His latest film Hickok is now in wide release. Recently, we had the chance to talk with him about the film and his role as a filmmaker.
Hello Timothy and thanks for talking with us. Let’s start with you. Who is Timothy Woodward Jr?
Hi David, thank you for taking the time to talk with me as well. I am just a guy who loves movies and is fortunate enough to be in a business where I get to be apart of the magic of storytelling.
You’re latest film is called Hickok. Tell us about it.
Hickok is a classic western that that is sort of modeled after films like Tombstone. It tells the story of Wild Bill Hickok’s life, and more specifically about his time as the marshal of Abilene, KS. It was a challenging thing, bringing the old west to life, but we had an absolute blast.
The real story of Hickok has sort of slipped into legend. How important was authenticity to you and screenwriter Michael Lanahan in bringing this side of his story to life?
Of course we wanted to stay true to the important elements of Hickok’s life, like the road agent spin and his “moon-blindness”, but I also wanted to add my own twist to the story, I guess add my own interpretations. We wanted to create a character who was true to the myth, but different than what we’ve seen of Wild Bill on the silver screen before, and of course we had certain limitations/parameters we had to work within.
That said, Luke Hemsworth plays the titular character. He seems to do so against the usual Hickok archetypes but with many of the classic Western mannerism. He’s fun to watch. Anything you can tell us about his casting and performance?
I met with Luke before we cast him in the Hickok role, and that one meeting was all it took to convince me. True, he doesn’t fit the long haired, long mustached picture we have in our heads of Wild Bill, but we were going for something different, and Luke brought this enthusiasm and energy to the role that I think is refreshing. Despite not looking exactly like the man, he really was able to embody the legend and spirit.
He’s great. You’ve also got a great supporting cast including Trace Adkins, Bruce Dern, and Kris Kristofferson. That’s quite a list. Any thoughts you’d like to share about working with these talents?
I’ve actually had the pleasure of working with all three of these very talented actors before we dove into shooting Hickok. I worked with Bruce on a death row thriller I did called American Violence, and both Trace and Kris were in my last western Traded. They are all incredibly talented and genuine people.
Trace is incredibly down to earth and easy to work with. He flew in from Nashville and jumped right into filming the next day. Kris is probably the nicest guy on the planet, and he can tell a story by simply looking at you, never having to open his mouth.
Bruce regales everyone with the most entertaining bits of Hollywood history. I always learn so much being in a room with Bruce. I think my favorite part about working with him though, is that he never stays on script. Yes, he’ll do a take where he says what’s written on the page, but where he shines is when he really gets lost in his character and the dialogue just comes out naturally. We had an incredibly talented group of people who were all great additions to the project.
I really liked the setting and look of the film. This is your second Western film. Are your drawn to the genre?
I love westerns, I grew up watching them! I’ve also always been a big history buff, and shooting a western is like diving back in time and being immersed in a piece American history. I definitely plan on doing more westerns moving forward.
You’re also an accomplished actor with plenty of work in film and television going back more than ten years. Are you finding yourself more liking the role of director than actor?
I still enjoy acting from time to time, but directing is really where my passion is. I love weaving all the various elements of the project together and seeing my vision of the films come to life. Its honestly very challenging but rewarding and I learn so much from each film when directing.
As an independent filmmaker, what are some of the larger hurdles you face in getting your films made. And conversely, what are the advantages?
Being an independent filmmaker is incredibly challenging, but I think that’s what makes it rewarding. We’re always fighting something, whether it’s the clock or the sun going down or not having as many background extras as I’d like for a big wide shot. Unlike the studios who have unlimited resources, we don’t, for example, have the luxury of shooting for 30 or 60 days. I think the biggest element in independent filmmaking is compromise. In Hickok, I knew I wanted to spend time/money/energy on the Civil War sequence, but that meant losing something in another area. The advantage though, is that the limitation force you to think outside the box which, for me anyway, means getting into an even more creative headspace. This added pressure continues to push me into riskier and riskier choices that have continued to pay off.
What’s next for you?
I actually just finished a 1920s film about Al Capone, Machine Gun Jack McGurn and the Valentine’s Day Massacre called In the Absence of Good Men which was difficult but very rewarding. Super excited to share that one with everyone!
Me too. Our website dedicates a lot of the content to discussing great moments in movies and we ask all those we talk to the same: Are there any movie moments (or movies in general) that you could share with us that have been influential to you?
For me, it was and still is the experience of going to the movie theater. The smell of the popcorn, sitting in the dark theater as the red curtain pulls back and the lights go down. I can still remember the first time seeing a movie on the big screen and getting butterflies sitting there waiting for the film to start.
Thanks for talking with us. Greatly appreciate the time. Any last thoughts for the readers?
Thanks so much for having me! Keep going to the movies! We do this because we love telling stories and sharing them with the world.