Tom Cross Interview: ‘Hostiles’ editor
“I’m a movie lover, so I’ve always dreamt of cutting a western,” reveals editor Tom Cross as we chat via webcam (watch the exclusive video above) about his new film “Hostiles.” Directed by Scott Cooper, this Entertainment Studios release centers on an Army captain (Christian Bale) in 1892 who reluctantly agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi) and his family through dangerous territory. Although the director often referenced such classic filmmakers of the genre as John Ford to his editor, he also “didn’t want to get caught up in the trappings of the western movie.” Instead, “he really wanted to do more of a psychological portrait first and a western second.”
To achieve this, Cross “had to stay very close to the characters, and have everything come from a psychological point of view.” He adds, “There’s a certain amount of violence in the film, and I think it was important for Scott that it feel like violence, and it feel very visceral and gritty, and that it not feel like swashbuckling action. So the way that I would do that editorially was… focus on the faces, focus on seeing these events through these character’s eyes, and make it very subjective. In that way, it was less about seeing the action covered from a lot of different points of view” than it was “staying on the faces, and staying with the characters that we wanted to lead with.”
Cross won an Oscar for “Whiplash” (2014) and contended again for “La La Land” (2016). He’s reuniting with director Damien Chazelle for the upcoming Neil Armstrong biopic “First Man,” due out in 2018. As an assistant editor, he worked on HBO’s series “Deadwood” and on Cooper’s directorial debut “Crazy Heart” (2009).