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ON SCREEN
DOM HEMINGWAY
Thursday, April 10 @ Angelika

After spending 12 years in prison for keeping his mouth shut, notorious safe-cracker Dom Hemingway is back on the streets of London looking to collect what he’s owed. Penniless, homeless, and with “a face like an abortion,” Dom tries to make up for lost time in a flurry of violence, sex, drugs and alcoholic debauchery.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 3.47.15 PMThe film presents Jude Law in what his by far his most foul-mouthed and hilariously destructive character to date. And yet, though he is a criminal, Dom is also a man of his word (or lack thereof)——so much so that by keeping his silence and serving his time, he not only missed watching his daughter grow up but also wasn’t around for his wife’s final years before passing away from cancer.

Released back into the wild, Dom is “a man with no options who suddenly has all the options in the world.” So what will he choose?

DIFF: It’s obvious you’ve got a soft spot for outlaws and a knack for portraying them as funny, complicated people [see also: THE MATADOR]. Why is that?

Richard Shepard: I love genre movies. They give you a license to write characters that are a little unsavory. And I like to take those characters and rip them apart from the cliché that we’re used to. I mean, we’re all used to “Oh, it’s another British crime movie. They’re all going to talk in the same way and oh yada yada.” And I wasn’t interested in that.

I mean, the movie is called DOM HEMINGWAY, not The Great British Bank Heist, or whatever. I find myself attracted to deeply-flawed characters. I like to get in touch with that, because I’m deeply-flawed too, like we all are. Dom is a three-dimensional person I deeply care about, even though he’s someone I probably wouldn’t want to spend much time around in real life.

DIFF: While Dom isn’t the most moral person, he is ethical. He may be a criminal, but he isn’t a liar. Like a pirate who believes in the laws of parley, why does Dom hold onto his code ethics?

RS: That’s really a question at the heart of the film. Dom makes choices that hurt him. Hundreds of bad choices. But he lives by a code. He wants to be a thief but wants order, to follow your words with your actions, even if they’re illegal. It’s not an easy thing to understand. But if people want easy, they can go see TRANSFORMERS.

DIFF: As soon as the film starts, we’re hit hard with a heavy dose of Dom, who goes into a rousing soliloquy about his genitals. Did you have an absolute blast writing this film, or what?

RS: The opening monologue is such a shock to people, and hopefully they’ll find it as funny as I did. It was the first thing I wrote. Hitting the ground running like that gave me the license to do anything. Writing the script was definitely a total blast. And once Jude came on, hearing him make these words his own was incredible.

DIFF: Jude really dives deep into this role. Here’s a guy who’s a model in real life but transforms into a surly criminal with, as he is told by a friend, “a face like an abortion.” What was it like watching Jude’s transformation?

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 4.55.26 PMRS: Jude definitely realized that you can’t approach Dom Hemingway, as an actor, without anything but 100%. So from the very beginning, he was all in. For weeks before shooting, he was drinking, eating, smoking, working his ass off being Dom. I knew from the first minute that he was spectacular, and watching him I felt like I had a front row seat to an acting class.

DIFF: The film is filled with the kind of insults that can make you spit out your drink. Are these ones you’ve traded with your friends?

RS: It’s weird, when I start writing some of these insults, I’m almost not even thinking. Obviously I’m thinking, but it just kind of comes out of me. Some of them I write down, I’ll look back on and laugh at as if seeing it for the first time.

DIFF: Karma is an important element in DOM HEMINGWAY. Without giving any spoilers, what does karma mean for Dom?

RS: I think the love you make is equal to the love you take. Dom has been selfish on every level, in his whole life, but he’s now in a position to take a tiny step toward grace. The surprise of the film is that you find yourself caring about this beast of a man.

DIFF: So what’s on your wrap sheet? Ever shoplift a candy bar, tag a building, castrate a human, etc.?

RS: I’ve committed petty crimes, none of which I can talk about. I would have to kill you, of course.

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