We sat down with Chad Michael Murray to ask him about being a new dad, about his new film, Outlaws and Angels, and whether he'll be part of the new Gilmore Girls reboot.
The new feminist-slanted Western Outlaws and Angels stars Chad Michael Murray as Henry, a bandit on the run with two of his thugs. When the criminals take temporary refuge at the home of George Tilden (Ben Browder), his wife, Ada (Teri Polo), and their two teen daughters, Florence (Francesca Eastwood) and Charlotte (Madisen Beaty), they uncover a viper pit of secrets and abuse, blurring the line between good and evil. Henry's visit becomes a catalyst that incites the perfect storm of vengeance, violence and hard-won female independence. But rest assured: a lot of blood will be spilled first.
"Our motto was, 'More blood, more sweat, more dirt,'" said Murray, and he wasn't exaggerating. If you're a fan of Quentin Tarantino, you'll love this movie, which dishes out its brutality with a slice of humor. Farting corpses? Sure. Endless blood splattering? You bet. But is sweet justice served in the end? Absolutely. And then some.
If you're surprised to see Murray playing a gun-toting gangster, you're not alone. "I wouldn't have cast me in the role," he admitted. But he was certainly glad writer/director J.T. Mollner did.
In the film, Henry becomes captivated by young Florence, who’s eager to leave her home even if it means signing up for a life of crime. But Florence is no shrinking violet. Eastwood plays the role with an understated desperation and toughness that makes her vulnerable without being overly fragile — the way women had to be to survive on the real Western frontier.
It's easy to see why Henry is fascinated by her. But Murray claimed that Florence's strength is what made Henry love her and that beneath all the brutality, there's a love story.
"I love when there's a film with a strong male lead and a strong female lead — both equally so you can have the yin and yang and everyone has something to connect to and identify with. Everyone is an outlaw or an angel — they’re all battling their own demons. So yes, it's a love story," Murray said.
Murray and wife Sarah Roemer have a 1-year-old son, and he said that being a new dad factors into all of his career decisions, making him very careful about the roles he chooses. "I want to make my family proud," he said. "Everything's a discussion. I don't want to do anything gratuitous. Sometimes letting the imagination run is far sexier than just putting it all out there."
He recognizes that any movie about the Wild West is going to be violent because it was simply a time and place ruled by outlaws with guns. But Murray struggles to understand gun violence in America today.
"Am I angry about what's going on in the world? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't," he said, going on to suggest an American experiment where one state would go gun-free for a set period of time. "Find a test state, somewhere up by Canada where they don't carry guns so it’s not so easy to import them, and do a five-year ban. See what happens over those five years. Just test it out. If it goes well, then OK, that's the answer. If it doesn't, then we know that's not the answer either. It's not the guns that are the problems; it's the people who are flawed."
So, on the lighter side of things, we had to ask Murray if he'll be joining the Gilmore Girls reboot. Sad news: With his busy schedule, he said, it's just not feasible. He has fond memories of his character, Tristan, however: "I love Tristan and he was a great moment. I hope something cool comes up for him."
Outlaws and Angels opened on Friday, July 15. Don't forget to check it out.
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