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Bastille Day was Harry Dean Stanton’s birthday. A wayward actor with as much interest in sitting in his backyard with a smoke and a drink, or playing with his mariachi band, as in bringing his unique acting style to the big screen. His last performance (though not the last one released) was as the title character in John Carroll Lynch’s LUCKY.
LUCKY features perhaps Stanton’s finest performance in a film that addresses the end of life issues for an atheist from a practical and philosophical point of view that is both wry and poignant. The title character, a man almost 90 who is in singularly robust health for a man his age, but is suddenly confronted by what may or may not be a signal that the end is nigh.
When I spoke with Lynch by phone on September 19, 2017, one of the things I asked the director was about choosing a topic that our culture prefers to ignore, but we started with something remarkable about Stanton as an actor, the peculiar light that shines from his eyes, despite being situated beneath a heavy brow.
We went on to talk about how Stanton’s life informed the script; the illusion of immortality; the lessons Lynch learned his first day on the set; and the benefits of yoga.
We finished up with a consideration Stanton’s devotion to smoking and to mariachi singing; Lynch’s one regret about the film; and the decisive role that he played on “The Walking Dead.”
As for who President Roosevelt is, referenced at the end of our conversation, in the context of LUCKY, you’ll just have to see the film yourself to find out. You won’t be sorry.