I recently got the chance to talk to William J. Harrison about his role in ‘Lawless’. Here, William talks about what it was like working with Shia LaBeouf on-set and what is coming up for him in 2012…
Hey William. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me about your new film, ‘Lawless’.
Thank you Matt, it is an amazing film and I am very honoured to have been a part of it.
What’s the general plotline surrounding the film? I hear it’s based on a true story?
Yes, it’s based on a true story during the Prohibition period in American history. Matt Bondurant, the grandson of Jack Bondurant – (played by Shia LaBeouf), wrote the novel ‘The Wettest County In The World’ on which the movie is based. The screenplay is by Nick Cave. It’s a story about three brothers, Howard the brute oldest brother, (Jason Clarke), Forrest, the no-nonsense middle brother, (Tom Hardy), and Jack, the youngest (Shia Labeouf), who were Moonshiners in Virginia in the 1930’s. Without giving a lot away, it’s a movie where everyone, especially some politicians and law enforcement, want in on the Bondurant’s moonshine business. There are some pretty intense scenes especially after Special Deputy Charlie Rakes, played by Guy Pearce, shows up. During the movie you will find yourself rooting for the Bondurant brothers even though they are sort of “outlaws”. It has everything in it that makes a movie great, it grips you from the start to the end.
Tell us a bit about the character you play in the movie…
I play the part of Howard, the brutal oldest brother in the opening scene of the movie when he was about 13. My part kind of sets the tone for the rest of the movie. You see very quickly that even at that age, Howard has a talent for blood and violence.
How did you get involved in the project in the first place?
I was very lucky! My agent called and said they were trying to find someone who resembled Jason Clarke and could I get to the place right away. With that, my parents drove me to audition for Mr. Hillcoat, and that was it, I got the part on the spot. Jason Clarke and I really did look a lot alike!
How would you say this film is different and unique?
John Hillcoat did such a fantastic job with Nick Cave’s script, it’s kind of like a western, a period piece, a cop’s and robber’s story, and a gangster flick with a love story going on in the background, all at the same time. Even though the main characters are really criminals and not “heroes”, you really begin to support them and understand why they became who and what they were.
The film stars Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska, Dane DeHaan and Chris McGarry – with John Hillcoat onboard as director – what was it like working with the cast and crew on-set? Any good anecdotes?
It was great! Movies are kind of strange, everyone has their scenes so you don’t necessarily cross paths with everyone in the movie. I would love to have met Tom Hardy, but he had already left the day before my scene to start shooting ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, so I never had a chance to meet him. Shia was great, he took the time to talk to all of us and make sure our nerves were calm!! I really liked him. Jason Clarke was fantastic, a really down to earth guy and when we came out of make up, we were both surprised at how much we looked alike. I am in awe of Gary Oldman, he was unbelievable and made an effort to spend a few minutes with me, I was dumbfounded!! John Hillcoat was a very kind man and well-respected by everyone on set. He is an animal lover just as I am. As I had kind of a gory scene with the hog, he kept coming over to make sure that I stayed comfortable with it. I think both him and I were a little uneasy with it at times! Dane DeHann was great! When we met, from a distance I think he thought that we were about the same age, it wasn’t until he walked over to me and got closer that he realized I was younger, it’s amazing what wardrobe and makeup can do!! LOL
Let’s talk a bit about you William. What made you want to get into the industry in the first place?
I auditioned for a school play because a friend of mine was going to be in it and we would be able to “hang out”. I got a part and he didn’t so I tried to back out, my Mum and Dad wouldn’t let me! So I was reluctantly on stage in front of a lot of people, I found out that I loved it. My parents got me into a summer acting camp, afterwards I started attending a weekend acting school and was signed by an agent while I was there!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to pursue a career in the industry?
Start by doing school plays or drama classes after school or at weekends. Watch other actors in movies, learn from them!! Look for a good agent or manager to represent you and be prepared for anything and everything. Don’t fear rejection because you will be rejected, you will be too tall, too short, too heavy, too thin, too young, too old, wrong colour eyes or hair, it’s all just part of the business and it’s not personal!! Mostly, when you do go into an audition, know the story and each character, what it’s about, how the characters interact, and know your part inside out!!
You’ve been in a number of different films and TV series – which actors/actresses have been your favourites to work with and why? Any good stories?
I have been very fortunate. To be honest they have all been great to work with, I learn all the time by working with the different actors, they have all been so talented in so many different ways. I did have a huge crush on Jennifer Garner when I was working on ‘The Odd Life Of Timothy Green’. She is the same in real life as she is on-screen. Every time she was around I would get tongue-tied. Ron Livingstone was such a nice guy to work with. He joked around with me quite a bit between takes and made me laugh a lot, he is just a regular guy off-screen!
What’s currently on your I-Pod right now?
I’m Yours by Jason Mraz.
If you could have dinner with three guests – (living or dead), who would you choose and why?
- Mark Wahlberg – A great actor and director. I would love to know how he overcame all of his trials and got to where he is now. I know he has had it hard in the past and he really came through it.
- Nelson Mandela – I admire him for everything he went through!! I would really love to hear him tell his life story.
- Tom Hanks –From comedy to serious drama and everything in between, is there anything this actor can’t do?? I would love to hear his whole journey.
You’re stuck on a desert island, you’re only allowed three personal things with you – what would you choose and why?
I’m not sure how personal they are but after being in Stephen King’s “survivor type” and knowing what that guy went through, I would have to have:
- Fishing rod and hooks – you have to eat something!
- A Knife – always the most useful tool!
- A Bible – because I would need my faith.
What’s coming up for you in 2012?
‘The Odd Life of Timothy Green’ and ‘Lawless’ are already out. Later this month I have ‘Unconditional’ coming out. It’s a story about over coming life’s trial and tribulations. Then either at the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013, ‘Goat Island’, a fantastic film directed by the amazing DJ Caruso! Right now I am shooting a couple of Indy films including ‘Crucible’. I am also up for a couple of other films but we aren’t sure if or when they will be made yet.
Thanks for the interview!