About The Production (Cont'd)
TALES IN THE SNOW
Screenwriter Frank Baldwin had a killer assignment: Transfer a great
into America's crime subculture - and make it feel dangerous and funny
Creating the narrative scaffolding for a collection of characters to not only
face each other, but face the
issues and indignities they carry inside of them, was no small task. Luckily,
novelist and screenwriter
Frank Baldwin had a handle on COLD PURSUIT from the get-go. When producer
approached Baldwin with the assignment, Baldwin's first duty was to see Hans
Petter Moland's In Order
of Disappearance, and then reimagine the story in the modern American West. As
the pieces came
together, maintaining the tone and humor of Moland's original film was crucial,
as was weaving a rich,
new tapestry that did justice to American characters living in complicated
This story, and Nels Coxman's journey, has a lot going on besides a search
for justice, doesn't it?
"It does. It has a lot of layers in it, all of which were baked into Hans
Petter's original film. For me, it
was important that you not lose those layers in its transference to an American
movie. And there were
all sorts of things that I thought was subtle in the story that worked -
including that Nels has to kidnap
the son of the villain, and has to break the cycle that he couldn't do with his
own son, by essentially
saving the villain's son. And that's at a point in the movie when Nels appears
to be a character who's
almost irredeemable, and has stooped low, and yet that is the source ultimately
of his redemption, if
he has it."
Nels is a man who tried to redeem himself, but after his son's death is on
the precipice between the
good and bad sides of life.
"What helped me conceptualize the story is when I thought of Nels as a guy
who has violence in his
blood. His father was a gangster, his brother is a gangster, and he turned his
back on that road. He
shoved that down inside of him and has lived a peaceful life out in the
wilderness, working his honest
job and doing his simple task. He's kind of a simple guy. And so the journey for
Nels is he has to take
the road not taken and in this late stage in his life, go into the life that he
turned his back on. And it's
terrifying when someone like that finds out, 'Oh, I can do this.'"
The connection to White Bull - it's almost an emotional parallel, or maybe a
matter of connected but
not quite similar paths - is fascinating. In the original film, this gang that
opposed the main villain
were Serbians. White Bull's motivations are much more complex, aren't they?
"Well, the idea of turf and territory has special meaning when it comes to
Viking and White Bull. Because
here's Viking thinking, 'This is my turf, my father was here before me' - and of
course White Bull's
gang has a special sensibility to being screwed over, and to defending what they
know is theirs. If you
harken back to the old, the idea of the West, White Bull's white gang is
indigenous to Colorado and has
been for a long time. So you have this uneasy truce that's existed for a long
time between White Bull
and Viking due to a misunderstanding involving Nels' son that winds up making
White Bull upset, and
it results in total war."
Even Viking's nickname evokes a colonizing force coming into existing lands,
and the violence that
accompanies that. Whereas White Bull is a man of honor.
"That's right. And at the end of the day, he made a deal and he upheld it,
and the deal was broken on
him. And ultimately he is a criminal who sets out to do what he said to do -
without giving anything
away - but in a more powerful sense. One of the major points of Hans Petter's
movie, here as in the
original film, is that revenge is not worth it."
The way the film develops its sense of humor, which can sometimes be snide or
edgy, is crucial to
understanding their tension and especially how in this tough, often villainous
world, there are barriers
between people that rear up and are even used as a sort of bargaining chip,
"Nels' intention, in COLD PURSUIT as in the original film, is that it's good
to 'take the piss out of
everybody,' to use the British expression. Nobody in the film is exempt from
being made fun of,
including the Native American characters, and including Nels himself. It all
serves a purpose. Like when
they go to a morgue and they're raising Nels' son's body up on a gurney, and
it's the worst possible
moment, but while it's not being played for laughs, there is also the idea that,
this is taking too long to
get the body up so they can see it. Throughout the movie is a sense of nobody is
exempt from the
perhaps awfulness of things, the folly of human existence."
It's a terrific mix with White Bull and his gang, because for instance, in a
scene at the hotel, they raise
their eyebrows when a hotel employee uses the word "reservation." They're using
this to get what they
want. It's irreverent. And later White Bull is in the hotel gift shop, and he
quietly looks at Native
American clothing being sold that we see is actually made in China, and White
Bull looks at some of
the cheesy sculptures in the shop that turn his tribal legacy into something
kitschy to be sold cheap to
tourists. The line between all of that is well-handled.
"Yes, and remember, the Native Americans in the film are a crime cartel too,
and while they and their
history were handled respectfully, it was still important at times to see that
their personalities and quirks
were able to provide a bit of fun, just as with Viking's gang....The film has a
balance of both real stakes
and irreverent humor."
A SUPPORTING CAST THAT PLOWS AHEAD
TOM BATEMAN is Trevor "Viking" Calcote
You've said that this story 'erupts' from your character, Viking. In what
"Well, Viking doesn't really operate on the same wavelength as anyone else.
He's a psychopath. I read
a book called The Psychopath Test before I started, and it looks at people who
aren't on the same
wavelength as everyone else, but function in society. It's very interesting to
see someone making
decisions, like shooting someone in the face on a whim - even if that person is
close to them or works
with them - because the audience never knows what's going on in that guy's
Viking's a slippery character to pin down, isn't he?
"Absolutely. Just when you think he's going down one road, he flips it and
goes down another. So, you
might think, 'Oh, he's about to be violent', and then he might be seductive and
charming. Or, 'Oh, he's
about to be funny,' and then he cuts off someone's head. He constantly keeps the
- and kept me guessing, as an actor. I rehearsed my scenes on my own, and I
found that there were
about a hundred different ways I could play this character, and each scene could
be played in a hundred
different ways. I could play them deadpan, as they're written, or I could play
around with them and
go, 'Actually, what if I make this line funny even though what I'm saying is
horrible?' It's been like
being in a candy store, where I can just pick and choose what I like."
What does Viking do with his days, when he's not shooting anyone in the face?
"Viking's job in this - if he has one - is that he runs a club, but really
that's just a front. He likes the
idea of being a club owner, but really his main job is a drug dealer. He
supplies cocaine for the town
of Kehoe, and he's got a lot of people who work for him. But he inherited that
from his father, so he
hasn't built up an empire; he's one of those spoiled brats who inherited
something but wears it like a
crown. He loves that he's seen as powerful, but he hasn't done anything to
deserve that status."
Is Viking the catalyst for everything that happens?
"Pretty much. The whole film spins off this catalyst moment of his guys
killing Kyle Coxman. And there's
also this tension between Tom Jackson's character, White Bull, and Viking,
between their rival gangs.
Really, Nels is doing everything he's doing because he's hurting, and he thinks
that the only way to
ease that is revenge. And revenge runs throughout the whole film.
Revenge becomes the weight no one can shake.
"Yes. Nels wants revenge for his son, then, as soon as he starts killing
Viking's men, Viking wants
revenge for that, and then there's an accidental act of revenge on someone else
who has nothing to
do with it - and then more characters want revenge on Viking. It's this huge,
big mess of a web that
comes to a boiling climax, and leaves everyone really screwed."
TOM JACKSON is White Bull
This movie is tonally unique and irreverent. What was your reaction when you
first read the script?
"Well, I have an agent, Alicia. She reads everything before it gets to [my wife]
Alison, and Alison reads
everything before it gets to me. And I was sitting one night, and Alison was
reading this script, and
kept breaking into belly laughs. I said, 'What are you reading?' She said, 'A
script Alicia sent, called
What did you both respond to about it?
"That it was a satirical piece, yet a very, very dark piece. It was really
interesting to me to play a
character who is in fact Native American, people who, by and large, don't get
represented very often
in the movies. It was also different for me to play a villain. I don't very
often play bad guys in my life.
So I considered all of that, and at the end of the day, I just thought this was
a really nice challenge for
How did you find working with Hans Petter Moland?
"Hans Petter is brilliant. He's a very sensitive man, and I like that. We
shook hands once. Since then,
we hug. We only had one handshake."
Tell us about the cartel White Bull is in charge of.
"My comrades, they aren't a tribe, they're a collective group of Native
American men who come from
all parts. In the film, White Bull talks about his past, he says to the people
who work for him, 'Thirty
years ago, a man came to me one day and he stuck out his hand and made me a
deal. It was a good
deal. Not a great deal, but a good deal.' And similarly, with my fellow actors,
we all shared stories about
our backgrounds. You should have been in that room. That really built the
character of the group. You
know, we're all actors, but we still believe in each other as a group, and I
think that's what you sense
when you watch this movie: that there's something different and special about
this group of people."
In the film, White Bull has a fascinating relationship with his rival,
Viking. What was that built on?
"The guy my character shook hands with thirty years earlier was Viking's dad.
So, White Bull made a
deal with his dad establishing which cartel had control of what in this area of
Colorado. And White Bull
doesn't know much about Viking other than that he's maintained the drug flow
from his dad. But Viking
is much more violent than his dad. So White Bull doesn't really have any
affinity for him and when
Viking takes something from White Bull, something has to be taken in return."
Even though you're not on screen much together, White Bull and Liam Neeson's
character, Nels, share
an understanding. What was the process like to build that rapport?
"I only have one scene with Liam, but I dare say it's the best scene in the
movie. We didn't spend much
time together, but one night we worked together until 2:30 a.m. I was going on,
as I have a tendency
to do, about certain journeys I've had in my life, and he shared some of his. We
talked a lot about this
inherent ability for Native American people to live closer to the land, and to
understand what that
actually is and what it means. And how do you find all that out if somebody
doesn't tell you? You have
to go looking for it - but where do you start, right? How do you find out that
the planet is alive? So,
Liam and I explored that together. You know, you wonder if people sit around,
drink coffee, and Martinis
or whatever... or if they change the world. Well, I can say we changed each
Do you see similarities between White Bull and Nels?
"I don't know that the characters are dissimilar...I think when there's a gap
created in your world, a
gap that is founded in love, and that is removed from you, vengeance is maybe
not the proper instinct,
but it may be the only instinct that brings comfort."
This movie also has some great action. How did you feel about shooting that?
"I liked the shoot-em-up parts of the film! As much as I philosophize about
it, the reality is that this is
as entertaining a movie as any other I've been in."
Should we feel empathy for these characters, do you think?
"These are all bad guys. There are no good guys in this movie. So you have to
start there, and then
decipher, 'Well, how bad is that guy?' Remember THE WILD BUNCH? Remember movies
COLD PURSUIT in some ways is in that vein. I think throughout the film, there's
a thread - it's not
honor among thieves, exactly, but it's a thread that definitely gives you a
perspective into all these bad
guys. You feel for some of them. And that's bizarre."
LAURA DERN is Grace Coxman
How was it working with Liam Neeson?
"It's not easy, but somebody's got to do it! Somebody's got to sit there and
kiss Liam Neeson! [Laughs]
No - it's the greatest thing in the world. I adore him as a human, and he's the
And he makes me laugh so hard that we barely got through our last scene. We
started telling each
other stories, then we just kept the stories going and got them into the scene
somehow. I had the best
time with him."
Was he the draw for you, or the script?
"Well, first and foremost, I've always wanted to work with Liam, who's a dear
friend, and the gift of us
working together came to me via text, with Liam seeing if it could work out if
that we could be together
on this. I was thrilled. And he introduced me to Hans Petter [Moland]. I had
known his work a little bit,
and have a great kinship toward it because I'm of Norwegian descent, from my
So I've always dreamt of being in Norway and I love his films, and his actors,
so it was a dream to
come together with this Norwegian crew and work with this filmmaker who's
beautifully irreverent and,
you know, a great visionary. So both things were really intriguing to me."
Had you seen the original when Liam's text came in?
"I hadn't until I was asked by Liam about doing it. And what really struck me
about that film, that I feel
like Hans Petter held true to - which is so important - is that the film feels
so dark and desolate, and
the loneliness of this man, Nels, that you feel so completely, and his inability
to communicate what he's
working through. And you're immersed in that, and then suddenly this really
black, irreverent comedy
takes over, amidst all the mayhem. And I love the theme of what can go wrong
when revenge is your
destiny. Or the path you choose. And in reinventing this, Hans Petter gave room
to the new actors to
make it their own. For Liam and I, we wanted to develop further the relationship
between this husband
and wife, to deepen what was at stake."
What happens to the relationship between Nels and Grace in the movie?
"There's a chemistry and intimacy and friendship between two people, but when
a tragedy occurs, and
two people handle it so completely differently, they can lose each other, not
only themselves, in it.
Grace needs to process it, and Nels needs to completely shut off. So there's no
conversation, no healing,
no dialogue - and the intimacy is lost. And he has a way that he's going to
manage his agony. He's lost
himself in this drive for revenge."
Beneath the surface narrative, what's this movie actually about?
"It's about what happens when you don't consider what you're feeling, and you
take, oddly, what you
think is the path of least resistance, which is revenge. As a way to deal with
your feelings, you're just
going to create hell, and end up far worse off than when you started. I find
terrifying, and ultimately kind of hilarious, in its brokenness, because so many
people get into so much
trouble with that agenda. I think through grief - which we all understand and
have experienced in
some area of our life - we all want revenge. And we play it out in a daydream,
or seek it in subtler
forms, emotional revenge on people who have hurt us, which is still potentially
damaging. So any
character taking on our wildest contempt and acting it out is delicious and can
be quite funny, and
horrifying. Perhaps it'll make us see the mess we could make, if we actually
stayed true to the shadow
of what we're feeling. It's a cautionary tale, but a very irreverent one."
EMMY ROSSUM is Kim
What intrigued you about your character, a no-nonsense, eager police officer,
in COLD PURSUIT?
"What intrigued me was seeing a young woman fight for herself and what she
believes in in a male-dominated
world. Not just within a criminal world but within her own workplace in the
police force, too.
That's just a really interesting picture to draw. In the end, it doesn't really
matter if she solves the case
or gets the bad guys. It's really that she sticks to her ideals. And I was
really impressed by the tone of
the script, the bizarre, slightly surreal dark comedy set against really intense
violence. It was handled
in a very kind of comic and strange way that really got my attention. I'd heard
that the characters were
drawn in unique ways that I hadn't seen before: bad guys that weren't all bad,
good guys that weren't
all good. And then I read the script, and wasn't quite sure that I was reading
it correctly because I
found myself laughing at things that I wasn't sure were supposed to be funny.
And that had me sold.
It's a movie about how strange life is, and how bizarre people can be."
What can you tell us about Kim?
"She's an eager young rookie cop, idealistic and highly moral, being shown
the ropes by an older officer
- played by John Doman, who I loved on The Wire - who's a little bit jaded.
She's very idealistic about
right and wrong. And the town she's in, Kehoe, is one where there doesn't seem
to be a lot of crime.
So when all these dead bodies start piling up, it's kind of exciting for her
because suddenly she has
something to do. So it's a great role. I felt that I had kind of a weird, bold
take on the character that
they were either going to like or not, and I guess they did!"
What was it like working with Liam Neeson?
"Well, l love Liam. He is tall and handsome and kind and funny. And
annoyingly professional! He cares
about everyone on set. He's really just everything that you could imagine him to
be. He can go in and
out of character completely seamlessly. He's not the kind of person that needs
30 seconds before the
camera rolls to get into character. Working with him is very organic. And
obviously I've been such an
admirer of his work for so long that I was really looking forward to doing
scenes with him. My character
is initially intrigued by, and very empathetic to, his character's struggle and
the loss of his child, so they
have some kind of connection, until the bodies start piling up. And that's
interesting, because nothing
is black and white."
Did you do any preparation to play a cop?
"I did get a ride along in Brooklyn with the NYPD and that was really
interesting. It was really surprising
to me because I always think of the police force as being older than me because
figures, and what I found was that the officers I did the ride along with were
younger than me. It was
so incredible to be with people who were armed and arresting people and in their
quest for justice and
right and wrong who were 27 and 24 years old. The female police officer reminded
me a lot of my
character, Kim. She was 27, and had just taken the Sergeant's test as she wanted
to move up the
ranks. She was a fierce driver. I'm a terrible driver! And just getting to see
how powerful she was
behind the wheel, it was just very inspiring and eye-opening."
COLD PURSUIT is such a unique movie when it comes to tone. How do you
describe it to people?
"I think all of these characters are strange in their own way. I don't think
they're normal, everyday
people. They're surprising and bizarre. They're weird, and I think everyone
feels like a secret weirdo.
In this movie there's a gangster who only wants his kid to be macrobiotic and
super-healthy, and a
family man who becomes a murderer, and a young cop who's eager to see a dead
body because that
means something to do. These are all strange things that we wouldn't necessarily
ourselves. It has something really tangibly bizarre that feels weirdly familiar
in its specificity."
JOHN DOMAN is Gip
What kind of cop is Gip?
"He's a pretty laid-back character. I mean, this is the town, Kehoe, that he
grew up in, and it's a ski
town. And his idea is live and let live. His idea of community policing is to
let the locals do what they
want to do, and try to stay out of their way."
And his partner, Kim, is quite the opposite, right?
"Yeah, my partner, Kim - played by Emmy Rossum - is this hard-charging,
aggressive young police
officer, and she wants to make her mark. She's dying to pull out her gun and
shoot somebody, I think.
And it kind of makes my character a little nervous. He's constantly trying to
put her back in her box.
And Emmy is a terrific actress. She has a great sense of humor."
What appealed to you about the role of Gip?
"What I liked about the Gip character was that he provided a little bit of
comic relief, I think, in the
midst of a lot of murderous things going on. I don't get a chance to play comic
relief very often, so I
thought this would be a wonderful chance to do just that. Also, the first thing
that appealed to me
about it was the fact that Liam Neeson was going to be the lead. I had never met
Liam or worked with
him, but I admired his work and I've heard through people who do know him what a
great guy he is.
So that right off the bat made me very interested in doing it. And the script
was really well written, the
characters are very well-drawn. And there's a lot of action, that was
What was your experience working with director Hans Petter Moland?
"Hans Petter has a very light touch as a director, which is wonderful.
There's no shouting or yelling or
screaming, he just comes over and gives little touches here and there. He knows
what he wants. This
is a remake of his own film, so he has a lot of insight into the characters,
which is very helpful!"
What's Gip's take on all the bad guys in town? Does he care?
"I'm aware of the criminal element in town. In fact, I'm also aware that Nels'
father and grandfather, I
believe, were both involved with the crime in town. But it's always been a very
low key, behind the
scenes, nobody gets hurt, kind of crime. Basically dealing with the drug trade,
and servicing people
who come there to 'ski, to have sex and get high,' as Gip says. And his
philosophy has always been to
let them do what they want to do, and now the bodies are starting to pile up,
and he's still trying to
not deal with it."
JULIA JONES is Aya
How would you describe your relationship with Viking, Aya's ex-husband?
"Well, Viking is a raging lunatic. And they were married, and when, at a
certain point, she wanted to
get out, everything went to hell. And now she still has to deal with him because
they have a kid
together, Ryan. Her whole objective is trying to get full custody of Ryan. And
it's a challenge because
with her and Viking, it's almost like a tennis match, the power goes back and
forth. But she wins all the
time, and that's her whole point - every time she sees him, she goes in to try
and win a battle. And
each fight makes Viking get more and more angry, until he just goes over the top
and does something
so horrible that she will be able to get full custody. That's her goal. But it's
hard, because he's a
nightmare. Going to see him is like going into the lion's den, and it takes a
toll. So, for me, it was a
challenge to show the toll that it takes, but also be in control and win the
battle at the same time. It's
like two very different things going on at the same time, in every scene."
What do you make of Viking, as a character?
"You really want me to answer that? I mean, Viking's a mobster, Viking's a
psychopath. Viking kills
people, Viking is a drug dealer, Viking is a very, very bad man. He does
whatever he needs to do, he
doesn't think twice about it. In fact, he doesn't think once about it."
In the movie, pretty much everyone seems to be scared of Viking, except you.
"It's interesting, because I do think that the two characters that are not
afraid of Viking are Mustang,
his longtime henchman, and Aya. And they're like, 'I've already hit my breaking
point, I'm out.' And I
think that Mustang's journey is to get out too, and that he helped Aya get out."
How about your character? How would you describe her, as a person and as a
"I think Ryan, her son, and her are really close. I think she's a very
conscious, loving, attentive mother.
And I think she's trying to be smart, and that dropping Ryan off every week at
Viking's house is
something that she can only think about to a point, because there are points
where Viking is in one
room shooting somebody, and Ryan is literally 12 feet away, watching his iPad.
So that's what drives
her to be as crafty as she is; the pain of having to go into that house and deal
with that psychopath
every day. And I think there's an element of shame or guilt that she carries
with her, because she was
involved with Viking, and she was a part of that for a long time. So in a way,
as a mother, it's partly
her fault. Yet she has a mother's instinct to protect her child. Her battling
with Viking throughout this
film is a manifestation of that."
How would you describe this film?
"It has so many different worlds and different characters. And what makes it
unique is when those
worlds - White Bull's gang and Viking's gang and Nels' world - collide
outrageously. They're just totally
different, they would never in the real world have the amount of interaction
that they do. So there are
so many crazy variables. There's a lot of mayhem. And it all leads to this sort
of wonderful, ambiguous,
comedic, serious ending. It's like everything at once."
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