Robert Jury interview: ‘Working Man’ director
“This is a time to turn the page,” declares “Working Man” writer/director Robert Jury on what his film ultimately has to say about moving on and coping with loss. “Despite all the loss, the tragic loss we’ve had with disease and job loss and all those things that compound as a result, having that hope, having that optimism, even in the worst of times and places, I think it was important for me to have this resilient message ultimately,” he says. We talked with Jury as part of Gold Derby’s special “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with key 2021 guild and Oscar contenders. Watch our interview above.
In “Working Man,” veteran actor Peter Gerety stars as Allery Parkes, a factory worker in a small Rust Belt town, who defiantly shows up at work every day after the plant is closed. The film co-stars two-time Oscar nominee Talia Shire (“The Godfather, Part II” and “Rocky”) as Allery’s devoted wife Iola and Billy Brown (“How To Get Away With Murder”) as Walter, a passionate former co-worker who befriends Allery.
“Working Man” is Jury’s feature directorial debut, having labored on the screenplay for years before finally bringing it to life onscreen. Critics have praised his moving screenplay and direction, which paints a compelling picture of a man finding a sense of purpose amidst the socio-economic despair lingering in his Rust Belt town, and his personal grief stoically bubbling beneath the surface.
Jury admits that a significant piece of the puzzle for him when crafting this deeply personal story was ultimately leading man Gerety’s authentic and often devastating portrayal of this grieving man. “As a first-time director, you’re reliant, quite honestly, an awful lot on the performances of your actors,” he says. “Peter Gerety, just being the consummate pro that he is, we would finish a take and he would immediately turn to me and say, ‘what else you need Bobby?’ He had such command of his instrument. It was powerful to watch, because I was moved every time I saw what we were capturing.”