After roles in Django Unchained, Machete and HBO’s Eastbound and Down, Miami Vice star Don Johnson is enjoying something of a career resurgence.
In his latest role he plays an unconventional private investigator who becomes embroiled in a feud between Michael C Hall and a scene-stealing Sam Shepard in Jim Mickle’s Cold in July.
Jonathan Melville spoke to both Johnson and Mickle at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.
For Johnson, 64, Cold in July was another film in which he could let loose with a character. He believes that hasn’t always been the case in his career.
“I really loved the experience of making this movie,” he says. “It’s a wonderful time… When you’re young you’re full of ambition and ego, and when you can separate yourself from that and start to dissolve the ego and forget about the ambition, you can really start to experience the real joy of the gifts that you’ve been given, and allow the creative process to come out and play.”
Mickle, who also co-wrote the screenplay, says that Cold in July, which is adapted from a novel by Joe R. Lansdale, is “a romp through old-fashioned, southern thriller genres”.
“Michael C Hall is the lead,” he continues. “He plays a guy who wakes up in the middle of the night to find a burglar in his living room. He kills the guy and sets off this chain reaction of a lot of different elements about vengeance and honour. Sam Shepard is a heart-breaking and at times terrifying father figure who pops up. And Don Johnson plays a pig-farming private detective, who pops up to steal the movie. It was a character that, as soon as you read the book he just jumps off the page, and he soon became the engine for the film.”
To work with three such talented actors was a pleasure for Mickle, who says there was never any doubt over Johnson’s casting.
“Somebody mentioned Don, and when that name came up we could never cast anybody but Don Johnson,” he says. “All three are amazing to work with in different ways. Don brings a beautiful energy and history to things. It was a treat.”
Cold in July is at Filmhouse tonight (23 Jun) at 8.45pm as part of Edinburgh International Film Festival (more info). It gets a wider UK release on Friday (27 Jun).
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