Martin McDonagh Interview: ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’
“It’s a story about a mother’s rage at the loss of a child, and it’s about her attempts to seek justice for that,” reveals writer and director Martin McDonagh about his new film “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” In our recent webcam interview (watch the exclusive video above), he adds, “But it’s done in a blackly comic way with a character who is a force of nature. If people like good acting, and a couple of laughs, and also a meaty story, I think they’ve come to the right place.”
The film opens as Mildred Hayes (Oscar, Emmy, and Tony winner Frances McDormand) is driving in her small Missouri town and discovers three dilapidated billboards on a rural road. She decides to paint advertising on them that fights back at the local police department for not finding the murderer of her daughter. Others starring include Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Lucas Hedges, Caleb Landry Jones, and Clarke Peters.
McDonagh states that the lead role of Mildred Hayes was “completely written for her,” adding, “I think she is the best actress of her generation. Mildred is a character that had to be tough and single-minded, but someone you kind of love at the same time. And someone with the dexterity of humor as well. I knew she wouldn’t sentimentalize the character or make her more palatable than she needed to be.”
Looking at the overall themes of hatred and rage, McDonagh says, “I kind of tapped into my own latent rage a little bit in the writing of this. It’s exciting to set a character off from that place of a take-no-prisoners-woman who is seeking justice. But I’m glad to say the film is a little more deeper than that… a little more about humanity and change and hope rather than a story that stays in an angry, raging place.”
British and Irish filmmaker McDonagh is already an Oscar winner for “Six Shooter,” the choice for Best Live Action Short Film (2005). He received a nomination for Best Original Screenplay for the film “In Bruges” (2008). For the recent Toronto International Film Festival, “Three Billboards” was voted with the People’s Choice Award. His work for Broadway has brought him Tony Award nominations as Best Play for “The Beauty Queen of Leenane” (1998), “The Lonesome West” (1999), “The Pillowman” (2005), and “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” (2006).