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John Carroll Lynch reminisces about his experiences with Harry Dean Stanton

John Carroll Lynch sat nestled at the conference room below the Rosewood Hotel in Georgetown. He just flew in from Boston to promote his new film “Lucky ,” mere days after the passing of the film’s star and legendary actor, Harry Dean Stanton.

While playing with his glasses on the wooden conference table, Lynch reflected on the first time he met Harry Dean Stanton.

“It was at a bar, Dantanna’s, where he would go there at least every Thursday, smoke cigarettes and drink tequila outside,” Lynch said. “He was a very funny man, mischievous, he had an impish quality to his humor, he was always smiling.”

John then let out a small laugh, fondly reminiscing about the encounters he had with Stanton, and continued by describing his“sense of quiet,” saying “he was a person who was very happy not talking, happy in silence.”

"Lucky" Director John Carroll Lynch

The conversation then shifted to the journey of making “Lucky” with Stanton, sharing that he was always asking questions about the film, unsure of whether it would eventually happen. When I asked Lynch how Stanton felt about making a tribute film for him, Lynch shared how he didn’t think Stanton “thought of it that way, and I don’t think it was ever pitched that way.” He then continued by saying the film was inspired by how Stanton “thought about life and his style of acting,” further expressing how the “love-letter portion starts to be something you talk about much later, but it was from first to last, to focus on Harry Dean.”

While collaborating with his writers, Logan Sparks and Drago Sumonja, John Carroll Lynch discussed the film as more of a “party with Harry’s friends, getting together and making a movie as a sort of party experience.”

Lynch very much enjoyed his first time directing, citing how challenging it was and the number of things he had to learn in the process. Being surrounded by many directors, John’s general understanding of directing is now more fleshed and detailed in his mind. He added that he would love to have more opportunities to direct so he could be express himself more. “With anything you learn, if I was to learn how to play the piano or the guitar, first you got to learn the chords and in this case, you know I didn’t come completely cold but I had never done it so it was a lot of new experiences.”

Another part of what he loved about making the film was working with Harry Dean Stanton, the man who John saw on the silver screen since youth. Harry Dean Stanton, who starred in classics such as Alien, Paris, Texas, Cool Hand Luke, and many more, has been a luminary.

“The first time I remember seeing him I remember being so affected by, even as a kid, ‘ Cool Hand Luke,’ he sings ‘Such A Closer Walk With Thee,’ plays the guitar, and that voice is so beautiful, he has such a calm about him in the maelstrom of that movie, it’s used as a kind of spring in the middle of the movie in this very hot place,” Lynch said. “It had occurred to me just now, after he died actually, that in the movie “Sympathy For Delicious” I played a pastor, and I sang that song.”

Lynch paused for a moment, affirming this song connection, then discussed the film that he calls one of his favorites: “ The Straight Story.”

“It’s an acting clinic, in five minutes he tells the whole story again, Richard Farnsworth has seen all those events happen to him and it’s only in the response that his brother has that culminates and flourishes into a flower of that emotional moment. Those two sitting on that porch together, brings me to tears every time I think about it,” Lynch remembered as his eyes begin to water.

It was clear from the conversation that John Carroll Lynch had a formed a bond with Stanton. Lynch was not only an admirer but a friend to this legendary character actor, and his film “Lucky” very clearly showcases this love.

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