Sam Shepard talks Malick and 'Days of Heaven'

Posted by · 8:14 am · October 5th, 2011

I haven’t talked much about Mateo Gil’s “Blackthorn” yet. The truth is I wasn’t all that moved to discuss it, and certainly as an installment of the western genre, I found it to be somewhat lacking. Nevertheless, it’s not the kind of film I’m all that interested in taking to task, either.

One thing that was captivating, as I knew it would be, was Sam Shepard’s performance as Butch Cassidy. Let me just get it out of the way: Shepard is the man. Plain and simple. I don’t even want to get into it. He just is. That line in “The Right Stuff?” When the dude says, “What is that? Is that a man?” And Levon Helm says, “You’re damn right it is.” Word. Up.

Anyway, I’ll be using the occasion of “Blackthorn”‘s October 14 release as a reason to finally dig into a list I’ve been meaning to cook up for a while now: my top 10 westerns of all time. But that’ll be next week. For now, Stu VanAirsdale has an interview with Shepard up at Movieline that is well worth your time.

In it, “Blackthorn” is naturally covered, but VanAirsdale takes the opportunity to probe a few other corners of Shepard’s career, namely his work with Terrence Malick in 1978’s “Days of Heaven.” Since Malick is very much in the media lately, with “The Tree of Life” coming to DVD and Blu-ray next week and a newly invigorated spirit (he has two more films on the way), I thought it was worth sequestering that bit of the interview.

Says Shepard of his experience on the film:

“I was very lucky to start out like that. That was virtually my first movie. I”d done a couple of other, little things, but that was my first sort of feature film. And to start off with Terry Malick, that”s not a bad way to go. But you still have the onus of producers trying to influence things – the whole oppression of people from the outside sticking their two cents in. I mean, anybody who”s going to advise Terry Malick on any aspect of filmmaking should just apologize…

“The last time I talked to him was in Austin, probably two or three years ago. I”ve kind of lost touch with him. We”ve talked on the phone a couple of times…

“I”d love to work with him [again], but that”s entirely up to him. I”d love to work with him. He seems to be off on a tangent of his own, now, though.”

There are plenty of other valuable insights throughout. Give the rest of the interview a read at Movieline.

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