The New York premiere of Lawless took place on Tuesday August 14 at the Paley Center in Midtown Manhattan. In attendance were stars, Shia LaBeouf, Jessica Chastain and Dane DeHaan. The Los Angeles premiere took place a week later on Wednesday, August 22 at ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood. Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pearce were the main stars at the event.
Director John Hillcoat has described the movie as “Goodfellas in the woods.” Musician, Nick Cave adapted the screenplay from Matt Bondurant’s novel,The Wettest County in the World. The story was based on Matt Bondurant’s grandfather and great-uncles’ bootlegging activities in Franklin County, Virginia during the Prohibition-era.
The movie follows the infamous bootlegging Bondurant brothers who built a thriving moonshine business in Franklin County. The entrepreneurial sibling’s lively hoods are threatened when a corrupt Special Deputy from Chicago named Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) wants a cut of their business.
Howard Bondurant (Jason Clarke) is the eldest brother who survived the savagery of War World I. He is still haunted by what he had seen and had to do to survive the war.
Forest Bondurant (Tom Hardy) survived an outbreak of the Spanish Flu that killed his parents. He has a quiet, menacing strength and an aura of invincibility since beating back death. He’s a legend in town and is seen as being indestructible.
Jack Bondurant (Shia LaBeouf) is the youngest brother. He is smart, sensitive and living in the shadows of his larger-than-life brothers. He tries desperately to earn his older brothers’ respect and can do without the violence that is inherent to the criminal life they have chosen.
“It is not the violence that sets men apart,” Forrest tells Jack in the movie. “It is the distance he is prepared to go.”
Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman) is a ruthless big-city gangster. He respects the Bondurant brothers and doesn’t want any unnecessary conflict with them.
Bertha Minnix (Mia Wasikowska) grew up in very religious family and is drawn to Jack and his dangerous lifestyle.
Maggie (Jessica Chastain) is a big-city girl running from her past. She convinces Forest to let her work for the brothers and becomes the bartender in their saloon. The private and guarded Forest is drawn to her.
Australian born director, John Hillcoat’s dream of making an American gangster film was realized with Lawless. He was asked in an interview for The Wrap about the on-set tension between Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf that resulted in LaBeouf hitting Hardy.
“Well, I have to say, it was a very intense experience. We were like family, and there were scenarios where things happened offscreen that reflected what was happening onscreen. I think it’s the nature of that intensive creative thing of filmmaking, when people are really committed and inspired. So there’s an element of truth to it.”
Lawless is in theatres now. The movie opened on Wednesday, August 29 and took in $1.1 million. Heading into the Labor Day weekend, it’s looking to take in a total between $10 million to $12 million over six-days.