Playing the Silas to Henry Thomas’ Hank Williams, Jesse James had the fantastic opportunity to recreate the last few days of country music legend Hank Williams’ life in The Last Ride at the young age of just 24. Starring alongside Henry Thomas as Williams, James recently chatted with me about playing the driver from this infamous real-life story, and what scene was the most challenging, yet memorable.
As many music fans know, at the end of 1952 Williams asked a young driver, Silas, to drive him to some New Years shows in West Virginia and Ohio. But after keeping his identity a secret from the young driver during the Appalachian countryside travel, Williams was eventually found dead in the backseat of the car. Though the incident grew controversial, pills and alcohol were ultimately to blame.
The Last Ride will be coming to Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday, June 4.
What was it like to take on the real life role of Silas in this film?
JESSE JAMES: It was kind of a challenge but fun at the same time. I never met him before. We didn’t ever speak with the real driver—or at least I didn’t until after we wrapped the film. I got a chance to meet him at one of the film events and he’s really, really cool. He’s old at this point and it was great to show this chapter of his life. I think he was touched.
There’s a lot of history with this Hank Williams story. Did you do some research?
Yeah, I was already a Hank Williams fan and into old school country music, so I was already familiar with Hank, but the driver—not a whole lot. He sort of laid low after the whole thing happened because a lot of people were asking about the whole thing and wondering if he had anything to do with it and all kind of things like that.
Interesting how Silas only knew him by Mr. Wells for most of their trip. What are your thoughts on their relationship?
I think they had a special dynamic because for the most part he doesn’t know who Hank is. He doesn’t know who he is so he isn’t afraid to talk down to him. Also, I think the relationship is special because it’s really sort of this man on his way out and a boy who’s kind of on his way up to becoming a man.
What was it like to play Silas to Henry Thomas’ Mr. Wells?
He was already cast when I came onboard, which I was excited about because I’ve admired and respected him for a long time. I started acting when I was really young, about 5 years old, and I always looked at actors like Henry and Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale. These are the actors that started when they were really young and they didn’t end up falling into the trap of child stardom or any of that. They were able to maintain respect and dignity and now that they are adults they have these amazing careers. It’s really inspiring.
The film puts a lot of emphasis on when Wells is found dead in the car you’ve been traveling in. What was it like shooting it?
That was actually one of the very first scenes we shot. I hadn’t even met Henry yet and it was the second or third say of shooting, so that was particularly difficult. I had to use my own experiences to aspire those emotions. That was actually from the first shot of the exterior of the car. We did two full days of shooting on just inside of the car on a sound stage. It was interesting actually. It was one whole day. We had a couple extra days scheduled but we ended up deciding to put our heads down and power through it and doing it all in just one day, which is really difficult. I think it was something like 19 pages of dialogue. We did it in order all day long on this sound stage, so because we were doing it in chronological order it was interesting because our characters really developed their relationship during that day. There were other scenes, but that particular scene in the car we got to build it chronologically from beginning to end so by the end of the day when we filmed the scene of me finding his body in the back it was really emotional for me. I just spent all day in this car with this man and we were really close. So yea, it was emotional and special.
It definitely seems like the most challenging to get through. What would you consider your favorite scene?
Definitely the scene with the car was very special. The fight outside—that was important and special. That was one of the last things we filmed and we had the wrap party there. It’s a little bar, and we had the wrap party and it was a lot of fun. I’ve actually been back there for promotional tours. That tour was interesting. I hurt myself pretty bad when we were filming it. I fell when I go to tackle that guy. I went to tackle him and I landed on my hand and I landed on some cement or gravel or something. I couldn’t wear a Band-Aid because it would be in the shot! I had this big bloody hole in my hand and we just kept going because it was only the first take that it happened so we had to keep going. Also, its important to me because the bartender, the gentleman that blows the shot gun to get everyone back inside, that’s Rick Dial who’s a fantastic actor and really sweet gentleman. He passed away before the movie was released. I believe that was his final on-screen role.
At Ology, myself and other editors got together and ranked the top 50 episodes of 2013. An annual list, we watched many shows over and over again to make the best list possible, while also showcasing shows that may not get enough credit. (I know, hard work.) Check out my pieces below:
No. 06 – “Cooler,” NEW GIRL (Episode 215, Premiered 01/29/2013, FOX)
Where The Office‘s Jim and Pam were the previous reigning champions of the twee sitcom love story, there’s no doubt that New Girl‘s Nick Miller, so excellently portrayed by the crush-worthy Jake Johnson as he’s been given phenomenal depth to play with in Season 2, making him our new Jim Halpert (yet original, of course). After chickening out during a dare to makeout with Jess (adorkable Zooey Deschanel), Nick gives himself away when he states he doesn’t want to be pressured, “not like this!” But after Schmidt fainting and a nighttime visitor at the door, the writers take us all by surprise when Nick whips Jess around and kisses her in probably the hottest, most surprising TV smooch of the year. “I meant something like that,” he explains, setting off swoon alerts worldwide. Though putting the two lead characters together was both risky and unexpected, it was everything people were talking about the next day, and repeating that final scene at an obsessive rate made you feel guilty enough to put a dollar in the douche jar. – Stephanie Webber
No. 13 – “There’s Something I Need To Tell You,” PARENTHOOD (Episode 405, Premiered 10/09/2012, NBC)
Beautifully executed, tear-worthy, and the episode that hopefully starts to pave the way for Monica Potter winning an Emmy, Parenthood‘s “There’s Something I Need To Tell You” was as awe-inspiring as it was heartbreaking. Hank and Sarah may have kissed for the first time, Julia’s breakdown may foreshadow the future, and Victor’s homerun may be one of the best scenes all season, but Kristina and Adam telling the rest of the family about her breast cancer showed this talented ensemble at its best. It could have been an overheard discussion, it could have been in a living room, but the scene is moving simply by a cut to silence and everyone’s immediate reaction. It’s realistic, it’s raw, and it’s fantastic television. – Stephanie Webber
No. 30 – “Take Me With You,” THE MINDY PROJECT (Episode 124, Premiered 05/14/2013, FOX)
Thank you, wunderkind Mindy Kaling, for both a brilliant rom-com series and for bringing Chris Messina’s to us on a weekly basis. In Mindy‘s season finale, she heads off to Haiti while leaving us with a set of the best one-liners and a Danny Castellano moment that yes, we are still repeating. What we learned: Anders Holm is a fantastic guest star, loving indecisive boob sizes is a thing, a penis can be big enough to knock off glasses, and eating corn after a “flossfire” in someone’s eye is actually quite hilarious. But after a season of hints thrown at Mindy with some Danny looks and subtle flirtation, the last scene with Danny and Mindy would make even New Girl‘s Jess and Nick envious. Cue up M83’s “Midnight City.” – Stephanie Webber
No. 24 – “Happy Birthday, Mr. President,” SCANDAL (Episode 208, Premiered 12/06/2012, ABC)
A shooting episode in any series is delicate to tackle, let alone one that centers on the President of the United States. But as always, Shonda Rimes handles an attack on POTUS with ease, starting the episode in medias res and taking us through the hour with flashbacks since the Inaugural Ball to flesh out the storyline. The president is presently bleeding out and Olivia is back while we look back on the Cytron explosion and Cyrus and James’ relationship as we cling to that “I exist for you” line. And there’s no way we could forget Olivia and Fitz leaving the Oval office a bit more, uh, disheveled, after occupying it for just a brief moment. – Stephanie Webber
No. 40 – “Because You’re My Sister,” PARENTHOOD (Episode 415, Premiered 01/22/2013, NBC)
The tears are still fresh from the season finale that could have easily been its series end (though it was renewed for 22 episodes, so thank the Bravermans for that). The writers tied up each Braverman’s storylines just in case fans had seen their last dance party so that we couldn’t ask for anything more—unless, of course, Sarah just chose Mark like many were hoping for. Crosby and Jasmine have some baby news, Sarah moves on with Hank, Julia and Joel finally get their Victor adoption wish, and Kristina and Adam replace cancer with a very happy walk down the Hawaiian beach. Forever young, indeed. Next stop: restocking our tissues for next season. – Stephanie Webber
No. 36 – “White Hat’s Back On,” SCANDAL (Episode 222, Premiered 05/16/2013, ABC)
As if Shonda Rhimes’ third ABC creation Scandal couldn’t get any more explosive after the mole reveal during the previous week! David Rosen turns out to actually just be playing Billy Chambers, Cyrus has a heart attack, Baby Huck Quinn has a gruesome killing, and Olivia and Fitz call it quits once again. Why? The wine lover reveals who really comes before the president, which only leads Fitz back into Mellie’s arms. “I can’t leave them. They need me, I’m their Gladiator.” But that’s nothing compared to Olivia revealing who her dad is in the very last minute, creating the acclaimed second season’s most scandal-ous scene of all. –Stephanie Webber
No. 35 – “One Man’s Trash,” GIRLS (Episode 205, Premiered 02/10/2013, HBO)
Even diehard fans of HBO’s witty Girls were split on its second season’s most talked-about episode, and that’s exactly why it’s on this list. Season 2 was an unpredictable gamble with viewers on what they’d see next, the fifth episode producing a single story line focused just on Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath. The self-contained story shows Hannah admitting she’s been leaving her work’s trash in the cans of the handsome Dr. Joshua (guest star Patrick Wilson). But the confrontation soon starts a sex-filled weekend, abruptly ending when she goes on a tailspin about wanting “all the things.” She’s young and makes mistakes, he’s older and content with everything he has in life already. So with that, she literally takes the garbage out of his bin. He’s not ready to put anything else on his plate. – Stephanie Webber
Here at Ology, we love to get inside the heads of our favorite actors and figure out just what went into making our favorite moments of our favorite shows. It’s a game we like to play called Three Scenes, where the people behind the characters explain–in their own words–the story behind some of their biggest moments on the show. Here, NCIS: Los Angeles star Chris O’Donnell shares about the upcoming season, and what scenes tend to be his favorite on the CBS series.
Upcoming Scene Most Excited About
“In episode 100, viewers find out information about my character’s life and history. Also, I will direct again.”
Favorite Scene So Far
“I love any time Callen and Sam are giving each other a hard time. Also, I love my scenes with ‘Hetty.'”
Most Challenging Scene
“Any time I am running through explosions and fireballs, I take the stuntman’s advice very seriously. Also, any scene I am in where L.L. [Cool J] is driving – he is a native New Yorker.”
Known mainly for his acting and current role on the CBS hit drama NCIS: Los Angeles, Chris O’Donnell has more recently also been focusing his time on ConAgra Foods’ “Hunger-Free Summer,” a joint initiative between Feeding America and the ConAgra Foods Foundation that helps to ensure that children are not going hungry once each school year ends. He, along with other famous faces, have been helping to raise awareness to this issue that affects 1-in-5 children in the United States alone.
“As a father of five, I was shocked to learn that one in five children in the U.S. face food insecurity – and that the situation only becomes more worrisome during the summer months,” the 42-year-old actor told me. “That’s why I’m working with ConAgra Foods, to spread a message of hope and provide a simple way for others to get involved in the fight against child hunger.”
To help in the campaign, O’Donnell made a video called “What If Your Child Was the One,” reflecting on the children who have to face food insecurity. “I feel fortunate that meals were available to me, and I am able to provide them for my children. When you hear the number of food insecure children, it makes you want to be involved.” Adding, “Every time it is viewed or shared, a meal is donated to Feeding America.”
Other ways people can get involved and volunteer is by transporting food, or hosting activities at feeding sites. “And while many resources are often available, sometimes families may not know they exist. You can raise awareness of the resources offered this summer by calling 1-866-3-HUNGRY to find programs in your area.”
As one of the biggest names in Hollywood, Judd Apatow continues to make huge blockbuster hits, while also producing the critically-acclaimed series Girls along with creator Lena Dunham. While receiving the Peabody Award for the HBO show in New York City Monday, May 20, Apatow let me in on his version of meeting the 27-year-old for the first time.
“I saw her film Tiny Furniture. I emailed her that it was great and if she ever needed somebody to help her out to give me a call,” he recalled. “She thought it was some joke of some kind. But she did call and happened to be working with my friend Jenni Konner on the pilot of Girls. So I was very lucky.”
Back in 2012, Dunham admitted to Chelsea Lately that she thought Apatow’s initial email was a complete joke. “I thought the email was a prank because it was titled, “From Judd Apatow.” And I was like, ‘Okay, if this was the real Judd Apatow he wouldn’t need to write me an email that said “From Judd Apatow.” Adding, “My friend Isabelle has a computer program that you can use to send people emails from fake addresses…So I wrote back, ‘If this is Isabelle, eat yourself. If this is Judd Apatow, thank you so much I’m such a big fan.’ So he said, ‘No, call me on this number.’ And so I called and he answered, ‘Hi, this is Isabelle.'”
A great story to tell, Girls is now in production for its third season.
Kickstarter is all the buzz in Hollywood these days, with dedicated fans hoping that their favorite television show will be next to make a reunion movie. So while we recently chatted with Judd Apatow after receiving the Peabody Award for Girls, we asked him if his 1999 hit Freaks and Geeks would ever take that route.
“I don’t think we aren’t interested in doing it because we like how it ended. So we don’t feel like opening it up again,” he said. Laughing, “But in a way, everything I do is sort of like a sequel.”
Sequels and reunions is definitely something that the writer and producer is used to. From Seth Rogen to James Franco and Jason Segel, Apatow has worked with many of the same actors over the years in hugely successful films like Pineapple Express, Knocked Up, Anchorman, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad, andForgetting Sarah Marshall.
Kickstarter has made headlines over the past few months, and rightfully so. The site that helps fund projects got a big boost in April when actress Kristen Bell and Rob Thomas asked fans to help campaign for aVeronica Mars reunion movie. With prizes based on the certain pledge amount, fans of the series reached the goal in record time, exceeding the initial $2,000,000 funding with $5,702,153. Since then, Scrubs actor Zach Braff has started his own campaign, and fans of Friday Night Lights have been hoping for a greenlight.
The Peabody Awards had its 72nd annual ceremony in New York City on Monday, May 20, honoring 39 winners for their continued excellence in 2012. Taking place at the Waldorf Astoria, some well-deserved recognition went to the newly cancelled Southland, the Doctor Who cast, and Lorne Michaels, who received a rare individual Peabody Award.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am to finally be among serious people. I truly appreciate this…” Michaels said. The television producer was joined by friend Amy Poehler.
Robin Roberts was also awarded on behalf of the ABC News Special, Robins Journey. The Good Morning America co-host was joined by her colleagues on stage. “We never thought that my journey would have such a reaction, and are so grateful that it has lead to action in saving other people’s lives…”
Other recipients included Louis C.K. for his hit Louie, D.L. Hughley for Comedy Central’s D.L. Hughley: The Endangered List, Bryant Gumbel for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Executive Producers of HBO’s Game Change, Jay Roach and Danny Strong, and Judd Apatow for Girls, who was joined by actors Allison Williams and Alex Karpovsky. “Thank you to the Peabody people for all of the Coke Zero and an enormous amount of beef…that was a lot of beef,” the producer joked. “It is an honor to be among you, I just peed next to Dr. Who and I’m very excited right now.”