Several interviews this past week pertaining to HAP AND LEONARD.
James Purefoy and Michael K. Williams as Hap and Leonard
For THE NEW YORK TIMES, Simon Abrams discusses writing gay characters with creator Joe R. Lansdale.
Leonard has doubts about his homosexuality because of his Baptist Christian upbringing. He’s not ashamed of his homosexuality, but he tells Hap that he hasn’t quite made peace with it. Where does Leonard’s personality come from?
Experience. A lot of gays don’t fit stereotypes, and one of the reasons I wrote Leonard is I knew plenty of gay people that weren’t the funny neighbor next door. There are some [gay] people I’ve met through martial arts who are some of the toughest people I’ve ever known. Leonard is very confident about being gay, but there are times where — he doesn’t think it’s wrong, but he’s thinking it’s difficult. Times change, so he’s no longer that unique for being gay.
But when I created Leonard, there wasn’t that many gay characters, and I thought that made him interesting. He’s putting the life on the line in “Savage Season,” which I wrote in the late ’80s. When I wrote it, there were a number of gay murders across Texas. Some people thought the victims had it coming because they were gay — “Well, it’s sad, but it is what it is.” — even law people and judges were taking that position. I was furious. So that worked its way into the novel. I didn’t set out to write a novel about those murders, but I always let myself flow with what’s going on in my mind, and current events at the time.
Photo: Karen Lansdale
Sean Kitching at THE QUIETUS interviews Lansdale.
The ninth Hap and Leonard book,
HONKY TONK SAMURAI a short story collection [HAP AND LEONARD] just came out. Can you provide some insight into the genesis of the books – what inspired them and also how much of your own life experience is reflected in the characters, such as Hap’s refusal to fight in Vietnam, as you yourself did? When you wrote
SAVAGE SEASON, did you have any idea that it would be the first in a series with such enduring popularity? Do you think the fanbase for those books crosses over to other areas of your work?
JRL: First, there are some of my readers who only read Hap and Leonard, not the other stuff, and some who don’t read Hap and Leonard, but a large percentage are crossover readers. And yes, I did refuse to go to Vietnam and it looked like prison was in my future, but they sent me to the psychiatrist and he gave me a 1-Y, which is unfit for military service essentially. I wouldn’t choose conscientious objector and I wouldn’t go to Canada. I did what Hap did and almost went to prison. I think the threw me a bone as the war was winding down, and I think they accepted my sincerity for being against that war. I would have fought in WW2, so I wasn’t a pacifist in the broader sense. I prefer to be a pacifist, but I think there are exceptions and times to defend yourself or your country, but that war wasn’t one of them.
I had no idea
SAVAGE SEASON was the beginning of a series. I wrote the second one about three years later. The character of Hap wouldn’t stop talking to me, and then there was a third, and over the years nine novels and a collection of stories and some uncollected stories.
SUNDANCETV ask 6 questions of Neil Sandilands.
Q: How would you describe Paco?
A: Paco isn’t exactly a smooth criminal. I’d say he is a bit heavy-handed. He lacks finesse. His sense of humor is diminished, and you wouldn’t look at him and go, “Ah, what a happy person.” This is perhaps brought on by him having had half of his face blown off. His moral compass can go 360 degrees in an instant, so he chooses to mostly lurk and listen closely to any information he can use to advance his own agenda.
Q: What drew you to the role?
A: Certainly the fact that it was based on the cult writing of Joe R. Lansdale. I always like making television or features based on successful books. It’s layered and dense and nuanced. Getting the opportunity to play a character such as Paco, with half his face blown away, seemed like a great challenge. Also knowing this was a venture for SundanceTV had an influence. It’s like indie television, which promised a greater freedom in execution.
Q: Did you have a regimen specific to preparing for your role as Paco?
A: The physicality of Paco helped a lot. The toughest part was doing the prosthetics each day, three hours of it. But once the character was “created,” I really just had to inhabit him. I tried to listen closely to the notes the other characters played and tried filling the spaces between with some other notes. Not quite piccolo, perhaps something like a chainsaw, which made it a bit atonal, a not-so-subtle reminder to all that shit’s about to get real.
SKEWED & REVIEWED talked with Pollyanna McIntosh.
What were some of your favorite moments during filming?
Shooting Hap and Leonard in Baton Rouge was a joy as, being on location, we were all living in close quarters and so we had great fun together both on and off set. A lot of cookouts. And dancing. Preparing for and doing the big fight scene with James, Michael and the stunt team was wicked. I got popped in the face for the first time ever and it felt quite thrilling! Another favorite day was when we got some decent rehearsal time for the Leonard’s kitchen scene with our Showrunner and director Jim Mickle. It was a great opportunity to play with the rest of the cast and to feel it all coming together.
Can you share how the creative process went in terms of how much input you had into the character?
Angel was beautifully sparse in the script but her intentions were clear and her size and her sharp dressing was a great canvas to begin with. I brought a certain sexuality to the violence in my audition which I think they dug so maybe you could say I brought that to her. I feel like everything I come up with is fed by the script, you can just take different directions as you see them but there has to be character in the writing. Joe R Lansdale and Jim Mickle and Nick Damici bring character in spades with how they’ve written the show.
SUNDANCETV offers the soundtrack listing for HAP AND LEONARD.
While Hap and Leonard may be down on their luck, they’ve got some great tunes to accompany them on their adventures. You won’t want to miss the HAP AND LEONARD soundtrack, which features everything from the soft country melodies of Faye Tucker to the hard-hitting tunes of rockers, Creedence Clearwater Revival. Music supervisor Jim Black works alongside original score creator Jeff Grace, Executive Producer/Writer/Director Jim Mickle and Co-Executive Producer Linda Moran to pick just the right tracks for every twist and turn.
For more info on HAP AND LEONARD, visit the Tachyon page.
For more info about HAP AND LEONARD RIDE AGAIN, visit the Tachyon page.
Covers by Elizabeth Story