Meet Rod Lurie, who directed episodes three and four of USA’s new hit series Damnation. He’s also written and directed such movies and The Contender, The Last Castle, and Nothing But The Truth. To find out more, just keep reading.
How did you find out about Damnation?
Adam Kane was his dp on Line of Fire and Resurrecting the Champ wanted to use as many cinema directors as possible. Adam called me and personal relationships are the only way I do shows that aren’t mine.
Where is Damnation filmed?
Calgary is incredibly lovely, very outdoorsy, crisp and clean, animals everywhere. Damnation is shot same sets as Hell on Wheels. Damnation’s definitely filmed there because of tax rebates and dollar. What’s unique about Calgary is daylight you get 18 hours of sunlight the day and an especially long magic hour which enables us to get lots of beauty shots. On the flip side, it makes filming night scenes more difficult because you have limited time.
What motivates the movies you work on?
Politics have always been important to me. My father was a political cartoonist and journalist and you see that influence in the movies I’ve made, such as The Contender, Hell on Wheels, and Damnation.
Why did you start out as a movie critic?
I thought film reviews would be a path into film making. It really wasn’t. Resentment of Hollywood versus critics was severe. I met with an actor to work on a film but he only wanted to meet me to tell me to f myself.
How did you get your start as a filmmaker?
Marc Frydman gave me my first shot to write a screenplay. which turned out to be The Contender.
Why switch from movies to TV?
I did Straw Dogs in 2011 that was a flop after that I was offered movies I didn’t want so I waited it out. Doing a movie called the Outpost by Jake Tapper. Doing tv offered me a way to work on shows I wanted to. It’s about 50/50 right now.
What draws people to Damnation?
People who are drawn to Breaking Bad and Hell on Wheels because of the incredibly absorbing, characters who you might not like but are drawn to, and get very winning combination. Even though set in 1930 is definitely relevant to today.
Who is your favorite character?
Everyone has their favorite characters. One of the most popular with the fans seems to be is Bessie. Incredibly subversive character, deliciously played. She seems to have the purest vision of anyone in the town given she’s a rough and tumble prostitute. She’s played by Chasten Harmon who is a world class singer and was in Les Miserable, where I first saw her. After that, I always wanted to work with her and was thrilled to be able to direct her on Damnation.
What do you think about Bessie and Creely’s relationship?
I think they love each other, but are trying to fight it, especially after episode 3 when Creely nearly gets her killed. There’s a sex scene between them where they’re trying to figure out what’s going on, and Creely starts distancing himself after that to try to protect her.
What do you think of the relationship between Bessie and her father?
I think he loves his daughter and will do anything to protect her despite the fact that she’s not in his life up til now. He’s trying to make up for the way he treated her in the past. She’s the only person he loves, besides his dog. A little insider info is that Christopher Heyederahl’s character The Swede had a dog in Hell on Wheels and fell in love with him, so I wanted to have the same kind of dog to have him play off of in Damnation.
How complicated are the stunts on the show? How do they come to life?
Stunts-stunt coordinate does the stunts Steve McMichael makes my vision come to life. A stuntwoman died on Daredevil 2 and had a moment of silence for her. We dedicated the fall from the roof into the wires to her. I wanted to add a little touch of moderna with the sparks from the electrical wires in the shot, just to resonate with the audience.
Connie’s character had a major fight scene cut out where she’s beating the crap out of the guys because they felt it didn’t fit the scene quite as well as her going in a quickly assassinating the men. I felt bad for Melinda Page Hamilton who plays Connie because she trained for two weeks for that sequence and I felt she’d nailed it.
What can we look forward to for the rest of the season?
Well, there’s 10 episodes total. The next few are going to be very intense, enthralling episodes. Be sure to watch brand new episodes on the new day Thursday nights at 10:00pm on USA.