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Exclusive Interview: Joe Lynch talks Everly, Salma Hayek and his next film!

02.27.2015by: Eric Walkuski


Watch EVERLY right now HERE.

Joe Lynch's EVERLY is not your standard action flick. First of all, takes place it almost exclusively in one location, a loft. Secondly, the action hero isn't some buff dude but rather voluptuous Salma Hayek, who is tasked with taking on an army of assassins single-handedly while only wearing a flimsy nightgown. No, not your standard action flick, but with a hook like that, who can resist?

For Lynch, the director of WRONG TURN 2 and THE KNIGHTS OF BADASSDOM, EVERLY is a true labor of love. The film is well over ten years in the making, and while it hit one or two major bumps in the road (Kate Hudson was originally supposed to star), EVERLY is exactly the movie Lynch wanted to make. That is, as he calls it, a miracle.

With the film just now hitting theaters (it has been on VOD for a few weeks now), I spoke to Lynch about finally getting EVERLY out in front of the public, what went down with Kate Hudson (f*ck you, "Glee"!), working with the Weinstein Company, and his next insane-sounding project.

When we last spoke, it was at Comic-Con, a pretty hectic time. What was that whole experience like for you, especially presenting in Hall H?

Lynch: I had presented back in 2011 with Knights of Badassdom, which is obviously a different movie, but never thought in a million years I'd do it again. And then, you know, when one of the world's most beautiful and talented people comes out with you... I think there was a lot of anticipation because this was Salma's first Comic-Con, so even she was overwhelmed I'm sure. I don't think she expected so many people to be there, but then she walked out in that crazy Matrix-slash-dominatrix outfit, the whole place gasped. She was definitely into it. It was the perfect opportunity for us to get the word out that this is not your typical action movie, not your typical genre movie to begin with. We knew the Comic-Con crowd would embrace it.

So I realize this has been a long road getting this to release, how does it feel knowing it's finally "out there" for people to see?

Lynch: It's the greatest feeling in the world. Every step of the way I kept saying to myself, something's going to happen, something's going to go wrong, this isn't going to come to fruition. Or, just because of the extreme nature of the movie, I was always worried someone was going to say, "What, you're actually doing this?!" and cutting it off at the pass. So just the fact that it survived from the moment I came up with the idea almost ten years ago to the script stage to getting it sold and finally made with an actress like Salma. Then to have it purchased by the Weinsteins, to have it survive the editing process with the same title- because the title was up for debate...The fact that it was such a personal story for me, and for Salma, and to get it to the finish line and be so happy with it is nothing short of a miracle.

Were there any specific alternate titles suggested to you that you can remember?

Lynch: Obviously when you hear the title, it's not something that screams action, like a Steven Seagal three word title: Out for Justice! They were totally right, it's not as easy of a sell when you don't have a title like that, if you're looking at Redbox or in a theater. Without any predetermined buzz on the movie, an easier title would have been something more action-oriented. So we were the ones who came up with almost 200 different titles, and we all looked at them and kind of agreed that they all sounded like Jean Claude Van Damme or Steven Seagal movies, and that's not this movie. So at the end of the day, Radius said, "Look, if you feel that strongly that it should be Everly, we support you." And they did. This is her story, and we wanted everybody to know that this is her journey, and hopefully they'll never forget her name.

And Sympathy for Lady Vengeance was already taken, of course.

Lynch: [Laughs] I was trying every variation of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance that I could think of. Titles are such a tough thing to position, to make sure the title is hitting the right mark. We kept thinking, this is not going to be on 1500 screens, it's not going to get a huge blockbuster push. But we also knew that we had to go in it for the long haul, we have to make it so that this movie will be remembered 10 years from now, and when you say the word Everly people will immediately know what you're talking about. It happened with Leon; people knew it as The Professional for so long, but then they put the director's cut out, now everyone knows it as Leon, or Leon The Professional. We were going for a title that would stand the test of time.

How much did the story change from when you first concocted the idea to when you first started shooting.

Lynch: I had come up with this idea in 1999 as a completely different project. It was going to be a fake feature; I was going to make a short film, then at the 27 minute mark, the lead character dies, but the thing is, we make everyone think it's a feature film. It was like, what if we made a movie we tell everyone is going to be 90 minutes and then the lead dies and we just cut to black. Long story short, my manager said he loved the idea but it would never work, but he did like the idea of this person who was stuck in this really shitty situation, how do we push it further? So that's where the whole idea of keeping it in one space came from. I was making Knights of Badassdom at the time and didn't have the time to script it out, but I have been a fan of Yale Hannon's writing since college, so I said we should bring him into the fold. I gave him a 17-page scriptment, and then he came back with the first draft and so much had been added and fleshed out. We went back and forth for about a year, and we made a trailer for it, just to give an idea to whoever's reading it what they were in for. Then the script landed on the Black List.

Then Salma got involved. The script wasn't written for Salma at all. If anything, the character was more of a girl next door gone bad. That's why when we cast Kate Hudson, that was more to the type in the script. We were trying to take the archetype of America's Sweetheart and propose, what happens when they go bad? And Kate was totally down for that, but then she got "Glee" and had to drop off. When Salma came on board, her sensibility was totally different. Kate was down for being an action star, she wanted to be like her stepdad Kurt Russell. Salma wanted to hone the idea of family and redemption and maternal instincts; she wanted to ground the emotion. She wanted to bring this really feminine quality to this to make sure it would not only resonate with the male action fans, but also her fan base. She knew her audience and we wanted to accommodate that as much as we could, while still keeping the gonzo sensibility that I'm bringing to the table. So it changed a lot, but mostly to accommodate her.

I'm glad you brought up Kate Hudson, because I remember reading she was attached. How close were you to making it with her?

Lynch: Actually very, very close. She was in, she contributed something that we stole from her. [Laughs] It's when Everly leaves the apartment and everything takes place on the security cameras; we were always trying to figure out how to branch out of the room without actually branching out of the room, and she said, "Well, why don't you have a whole sequence where you see her whole descent down seen from the point-of-view from security cameras?" And we said, that's genius! We had even shot a promo with her, so there's a promo out there that we took to Berlin with Kate Hudson holding a shotgun, pools of blood, and she's looking f*ckin' badass. So we sold the movie with her using this fake trailer.

And then, last minute, we heard, "Great news, she's going to be on 'Glee'!" And we said, That's f*cking great, that's great for everybody. And then they said they need her in a five month block of time where she can't do anything else! And we were going to shoot in three months, we were so close to shooting. Let's just say that I wasn't watching "Glee" for a few months. I wasn't too thrilled, it was a bit of a crushing blow because we got so far with her, and she would have brought her own spin on the movie, and I would have loved to seen that. But watching the movie now, I don't know how we would have made this version of the movie with anyone but Salma. It ultimately worked out.

Not bad, two Oscar-nominated actresses, you can't complain too much.

Lynch: No, you cannot, especially when they're coming to you and saying, "I want to do this, I want to have a blast doing this." Salma said at one point, "You can do whatever you want to my body." And my producer and I looked at each other like, are you kidding me, can we go to set right now?! She knew she was going to be put through the wringer, and she brought the thunder.

Making a movie that is set entirely in one big room has got to be a bitch, continuity-wise.

Lynch: Oh my god, our script supervisor was going nuts. She was making sure that this body is over there, that pool of blood is just right... She and the art department were always at odds because, say, that gun could be there, or it could be here, you know? Everly should be on the couch, but she should be over here because of the eyeline; it was always such trouble every day. Ultimately, everything we were worried about not matching, you get to the editing room and go, oh we're totally fine. As long as the audience is along for the ride, they'll excuse a lot of stuff. We still wanted to make sure we were being responsible to the story, responsible to the continuity, because at the same time we know people are looking for those things, people are looking for plot holes and all the different little errors they can report about on IMDb. So were trying to avoid that as much as possible.

Once it was acquired by Radius-TWC, did they implement any changes, was it easy working with them?

Lynch: Aside from the title, they wanted to tone down the violence a little bit. Some of the early test screenings we had, everybody really liked it, but people said it was way too gory for them. And look, don't ever ask Joe Lynch to tone down the violence, because I was like, what are you crazy? And we came back to them and said we really wanted to go out with that version, they were totally fine with it. They said, "Look, this is going to be a harder sell, but at the same time the fans of the movie are going to want it to be extreme, fans of this kind of movie are going to disappointed if we start scaling things back." They all knew this was the route we wanted to take. Right down to the fact of Dimension being on the film. TWC and Radius bought it, but when it came to finishing it, I said, let's put the Dimension logo on it. Because anytime I saw the Dimension logo on a film, going back to like Scream or From Dusk Till Dawn or Mimic, that was a sign of quality. Even Grindhouse. Obviously things have changed a little bit, but I wanted to make sure fans of this genre, when they see the Dimension logo, they don't groan, they go, "Oh okay, I get it, it's this type of movie." The fans will immediately know what path we're going down.

So looking ahead, do you have your next project lined up?

Lynch: There are a couple of projects lined up, one I can't talk about yet, but the one I'm working on now is called Switch Culture. God, it's so hard to describe. It's a sci-fi erotic thriller, in a way. I guess you could call it a sci-rotic thriller. I don't want to give too much away, but the best way to describe it is, if David Cronenberg and Paul Verhoeven f*cked. If you can take the ideas and tropes of both of those directors and put them in a blender, you'd get a good idea of where we're going with Switch Culture. It's going to be a very unique story, it deals with technology and sexuality; it takes place in the "tomorrow" future, the five-minutes away future, and it goes down some really dark places. There's crazy shit in there I can't wait to film. We're casting that now.

Then there's a movie called Ghoul which I produced by a great filmmaker named Petr Jakl. I saw his movie a few years ago and I was really blown away. It's a found footage film but a really unique take on it. It deals with the real life subject of cannibalism in the Ukraine, I was like, holy shit this is nuts! So for about two years I've been helping to shape it and it's finally coming out in the next couple weeks in Europe.

Sounds awesome. Thank you so much for your time, Joe.

Lynch: Thank you so much, Eric, you guys have been really great supporters of the movie, so I really appreciate it.


Official trailer for EVERLY

Extra Tidbit: You can watch EVERLY right now HERE.

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