Directed and penned by Daniel Roby, Most Wanted focuses on Daniel (Antoine-Olivier Pilon), a heroin addict who is forced by his shady employer (Jim Gaffigan) to participate in a drug deal that ultimately leads to his imprisonment in a Thailand. Josh Hartnett is Victor, the investigative journalist who uncovers the corruption behind Daniel’s imprisonment. During my interview with Pilon and Gaffigan, the actors talked about their love for the Québécois crew of Most Wanted. Plus, they gave me a couple of soolid movie picks (which is also welcome!).
Most Wanted is inspired by the true story of Alain Olivier, a drug addict from Quebec who spent eight years in a Thailand prison after being an unfortunate pawn in a drug deal organized by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (in the film Olivier’s name has been changed to Daniel Léger, played by Antoine Olivier Pilon). Amanda Crew co-stars as Victor’s understandably concerned wife and Stephen McHattie is the corrupt agent who negatively impacts Léger’s life.
Josh Hartnett, Pilon, and Jim Gaffigan deliver solid performances in the film, and Most Wanted is directed with a sense of energy and immersion from filmmaker/writer Daniel Roby. The feature hits theaters and On Demand stateside on July 24.
Jim, was the fact that Most Wanted was a pretty layered narrative a main reason why you took the project?
Gaffigan: I personally I’m much more selfish when it comes to picking movie roles. If the character has a complexity and has a non-obvious motivation I know I’m going to have a more enjoyable time playing that person.
I love the story but the fact that my character was an important element in that story. That’s what really drew me. I had talked to Daniel Roby on the phone – he’s the type of guy that I would do anything. He’s got that kind of energy and that kind of enthusiasm.
This movie is indie, but it also has big budget elements and he’s the type of guy who could do it all. Like it wouldn’t surprise me if he said ‘I’m making omelettes this morning for breakfast.” He’s the perfect type of leader.
Antoine, What was it like playing the real character in Most Wanted?
Pilon: Yeah definitely. Well for me I have to say, I was just happy to work on this movie because it required me to try so many new things that I hadn’t done before. Like playing in English, playing a much more mature adult role and (playing) a junkie as well. These were all new things that I was excited to try.
The fact that Alain was part of the whole process and was with us on set (was helpful). A lot of people ask me if I was nervous, but I think the fact that he was there with me, it just gave me that confidence. With Daniel Roby, we constructed a slightly different version of Alain which was for the purpose of the movie and just everything coordinated together with the script.
What is the key for both of you as far as staying in the moment as an actor?
Gaffigan: Well I think a lot of that – for me, I love acting. But I would say the most difficult thing is there is this time in between scenes and there’s distractions and sometimes they do coverage of someone else. And then you go to lunch and you have to come back and do your coverage.
So concentration is such a huge element. Some of it is the community of the crew and the director. What was so interesting about this movie was the entire crew was Québécois, so it was fascinating. Also they were great people. There was a sense of community.
I had worked with people here and there maybe but there was a family. I think it was because the fact that Quebec has such a rich tradition of film production and independent French language films. They’re pros at this and there was a familiarity so the crew knew each other so it felt like a contained group.
Sometimes you get on a film set and they don’t know about the prop person. Daniel Roby has a fantastic reputation. It was a cream of the crop of a crew that had experience. So that’s where it wasn’t like an indie. It was really an experienced crew that happened to be – obviously they went to Thailand. We shot in British Columbia when it wasn’t raining. It was like a huge budget movie done on an indie scale.
And for you Antoine what was the key for you to locking in?
Pilon: For me, it starts all the way in the beginning when I know that I am going to be that character for, let’s say, 30 days of shooting. Since day one, I want to go completely into character but that doesn’t mean be my character when I go to lunch or whatsoever.
It’s also about having fun as well. Jim said the crew was so nice and I have work with a lot of different crews in Quebec and this crew was really one of my favorites. There’s no tension, there is a lot of respect on set and it becomes easy for me to dive right into the character again. It’s a question of energy on the set and (the) vibe which was really really cool on that one.
Whether it’s working on Most Wanted or your upcoming comedy special The Pale Tourist, is getting the chance to explore different cultures one of your passions?
Yeah I was telling Antoine that because one the chapters in The Pale Tourist is Canadian American and obviously I worked on this film but I spent, I don’t know, two or three weeks in Quebec around this Quebecois crew and I was educated.
Obviously I’ve been going to Canada forever but I was educated – It’s like I stayed with a family. Doing these experiences whether it’s international shows in stand up or working on this movie, I love it. It’s hard to describe because it’s not just the experience of acting or embodying another character.
I get to be someone else in a different city. In a different country. It’s amazing. Something you can’t do in this age of COVID-19.
Can you guys name one of your favorite films and what is it about this film that still resonates with you?
Pilon: For me, I can say that one of the favorite films I’ve seen this year is Honeyboy with Shia LaBeouf. I really enjoyed that movie – growing up in this whole industry of filming movies – but to get to know him. If I’m not mistaken, it’s inspired by his childhood so getting to know him in a certain way throughout this movie – just all the scenes and the characters in the movie and the different timelines. I just fell in love with that movie.
Gaffigan: It’s also what stays with you right? For me, The Apostle is an amazing film. I think some of it is – there is something about the anti-hero that we also loved in The Sopranos. Robert Duvall’s character in The Apostle is – it’s not just even his character. It’s the whole experience and how it’s done without – he portrays that guy without judgment and there’s something about performances like that where it didn’t get close to cartoon. It didn’t get close to making fun of this guy.
By the way, Farrah Fawcett was so unbelievable in that movie. I really enjoy movies that tell a story and it takes a lot of bravery to just put it out there. Robert Duvall, he had the credibility – he could tell the story where some people I’m sure would be like ‘Can we make it so this happens?’ No one told him that.
So he told this authentic story about human frailty which – it touched every single character. That movie really stayed with me.
Thank you guys for your time.
Pilon: Thank you Greg.
Gaffigan: Take care.
Most Wanted hits On Demand and theaters on July 24.