You may remember back in February when I interviewed screenwriter Kris Simonian about the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid TV pilot he’s developing called Hole in the Wall. A lot has happened since then, including casting. So today, on the last day of the show’s crowdfunding efforts on Mobcaster, I give you an interview with Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid themselves, Mark Gantt and Thatcher Robinson! From here on out, I refer to them with their character’s names. So without further delay, I give you an interview with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!
Before I start though – please take some time to visit the Hole in the Wall Mobcaster page and consider donating to the show. It’s a great premise and a series I would love to see get picked up.
1) What is it about Kris and Ben’s vision of Butch & Sundance that intrigued you to pursue this show?
Butch: First word that comes to mind is PASSION, second word PASSION. Ben and Kris are two guys that are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about this subject, the time period and the history. When I read the pilot and series bible I was so impressed with the thoroughness and attention to detail. I feel like I’m in safe hands with them.
Sundance: I think the initial appeal, for me at least, was almost entirely about playing an outlaw. There’s a yearning in the back of my mind, and I think most people’s, to just throw all societal attachments to the wind and travel from town to town, living by your bootstraps. I think it’s primal, it’s just not usually acted upon. Sundance is a guy who acted upon it, and this was my best chance to get as close to that adventure as I could.
Beyond that initial appeal, though, Kris and Ben’s take on the legend of Butch and Sundance is about demystifying the pair and depicting the human beings that became the legendary figures we still know more than a century later. There’s really not an extensive canon on Butch and Sundance and this project is going back to their origins, to show how the relationship began and how the two grew over time. That’s extremely exciting for me, because not only do we get a chance to plant our flag in mostly unexplored territory but also because I’ll get to discover Sundance and the person he was for a long time to come. Yes, the dialogue is fast and witty and ridiculously fun to say, but these are real people who bleed and exploring people who bleed is why I act in the first place.
2) While preparing for the role, are you purposely staying away from Paul Newman and Robert Redford’s interpretation of the characters?
Butch: God yes! There was of course some hesitation to playing the role of Butch Cassidy. I remember the Beringer film and I just felt that they were trying hard to cast him to look like Newman. At the end of the day, I have to create my own Cassidy. And be prepared for the ‘haters’!
Sundance: I know I am. I saw the movie a few years ago and obviously those two are fantastic. They were in their prime, and I would be doomed if I tried to imitate what they did. Beyond that, we’re looking at a completely different time in Butch and Sundance’s lives. In the movie they’re nearing the end of their time together and our show is looking at the beginning of their relationship, many years previous. If you put Newman and Redford’s performances in our show they would be fun and charismatic, no doubt, but it would be inaccurate because these guys were not the same people at the beginning as they were at the end.
3) Is there a certain level of excitement and pride working on not only a pilot, but an independent project that has a more grassroots vibe?
Butch: Absolutely. This is such an exciting time for filmmakers right now. We’ve got an opportunity to create something really awesome for a fraction of the budget you’d need just ten years ago. As I mentioned before, passion goes a long way in this town. I think we’ve all got enough to carry this to the finish line.
Sundance: Oh absolutely. We have that “nobody believes in us” underdog mentality right now, and I know that I’m eager to prove wrong everybody who doubts this project or passes on it. And when we succeed we will know how hard-earned it all was. Nothing was given to Kris and Ben and they worked their butts off to make their dream come true. I only hope I can do everything I can to contribute to that dream.
4) Switching subjects completely, what’s your go – to book recommendation? Why?
Butch: When people are traveling I always suggest a Graham Greene short story collection. You can’t go wrong.
Sundance: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon. I read it a few years ago and no book has lingered on my mind as much since. The story is equal parts exhilarating and tragic, Kavalier and Clay are a duo on par with Butch and Sundance, and Chabon sets it all in a 1940s New York that he paints with exquisite and aching detail. I highly, highly recommend it.
5) Any Last Words?
Sundance: I primarily want to thank Kris and Ben for taking a leap of faith and trusting me with the part of Sundance. Also, to anybody reading this, I hope you’ll consider investing in the project. It’s a fun, rollicking script put together by an amazingly dedicated team, and I truly believe in its quality. You could be a part of something special from the ground floor up.