Dossier: John Hillcoat

Photo: Macall Polay/Courtesy of 2929/Dimension Films

How He Got the Job
Hillcoat’s 2006 neo-Western, The Proposition, a mythic story of outlaws told against the brutal Australian outback, captured the same bleak mood of The Road, a novel about a father (Viggo Mortensen in the film) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who survive a global apocalypse. “I probably wouldn’t have gotten the job if it had happened any later,” Hillcoat says, noting that he was hired before the novel was published—and before No Country for Old Men turned McCarthy into Hollywood’s “It” author.

Why The Road Suits Him
“The environment is of equal importance to the main characters in all of Cormac’s writing,” Hillcoat says, noting that he is also drawn to “extreme worlds.” (The Proposition was inspired in part by McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.) “Settings like these test the truth of humanity, where you see how good and how bad people can really be.”

What Is It With Aussies and Postapocalyptic Sci-fi?
Hillcoat bristles at postapocalyptic: “It lends itself to so many clichés.” Which is why he steered clear of Mad Max–isms and stuck to the novel’s minimalist urgency, including its refusal to explain What Happened: “We wanted something more resonant than, you know, the Statue of Liberty cut in half.”

The Road
Directed by John Hillcoat.
Weinstein Company. November 14.

Dossier: John Hillcoat