The veteran filmmaker talks about his new Western starring two-time Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz.
The first time I met the great filmmaker Walter Hill, he was working on his first feature as a film director — Hard Times, the gritty 1975 Depression Era drama starring Charles Bronson — and I was working on the set in my hometown of New Orleans as an assistant unit publicist. And I was struck by two things: One, even while coping with the pressures of directing, he was unfailingly gracious and forthcoming while I interviewed him for the press kit; second, he was a real trouper during a long shoot inside a warehouse where the foul smell of discarded oyster shells hung in the air like pestilence.
Fortunately, none of the stink attached itself to the finished film. Indeed, Hard Times was successful enough to launch Hill on a career highlighted by such diverse movies as The Driver (1978), The Warriors (1979), 48 HRS. (1982), Streets of Fire (1984), Last Man Standing (1996) — and the acclaimed Westerns The Long Riders (1980), Geronimo: An American Legend (1993), Wild Bill (1995), and Broken Trail (1995). Not incidentally, he won an Emmy and a DGA Award for directing the premiere episode of Deadwood (2004).
Hill is back in the saddle again with Dead for a Dollar, a flat-out terrific new Western that he has dedicated to his friend and mentor Budd Boetticher, and is heavily inspired by the classic Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone. Two-time Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz stars in the drama — playing a somewhat different type of bounty hunter than the one he portrayed in Django Unchained (2012)— alongside Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Willem Dafoe (a veteran of Hill’s Streets of Fire), Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order), Brandon Scott (Grey’s Anatomy) and Warren Burke (Netflix’s Family Reunion).
Walter Hill joined me in the C&I Studio this week to reminisce about old times — and to talk about his new movie, which opens Friday in theaters.