Wind River, interview with Taylor Sheridan

Film still of Wind River © RR

The American scriptwriter Taylor Sheridan, who brought us the plot of Sicario and Hell or High Water (Comancheria), screened in Un Certain Regard in 2016, has made his debut as a director with Wind River, a thriller in competition for the Caméra d’or, with actors Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen. On a Native American reservation, the two protagonists become allies to solve a murder in a hostile environment, ravaged by violence and isolation. 

What inspired you to begin work on this film?

I think it’s a sequence of events. The issues examined in this film are endemic on a reservation and largely ignored, and when I finally found myself in a position to give these stories a voice, I did.

Please describe your working method and the atmosphere on set.  Anecdotes welcome.

I like to think of myself as a really naturalistic filmmaker. Realism is very important. I strive to accurately capture the world and make sure the world itself feels like a character, because it is in our lives. I try to make the landscape as present in the film as it is in our lives.

Please share a few words about your actors.

Whenever you are casting a film, you are attempting to find someone who captures the essence of the character you created. In the character of Natalie, I wanted someone with a real strength of spirit. I wanted to see the fighter, and yet I wanted to also represent hope and youth and love. Kelsey did all of that. As for casting Jeremy, it’s a really unique mixture of strength and vulnerability. I needed an actor with this kind of subtlety, which Jeremy expertly captures.

What are your views on the state of the film industry in your country?

The modern American frontier is very telling of who we are as a people. This is a new country.  These are regions that we settled very recently, and you see the consequences of that settlement and assimilation still very present today. It is something that hasn’t been really looked at fully in film and so I wanted to expose that.