The latest riveting indie film from Magnolia Pictures is set to hit theaters next month. The Hunter centers on a mercenary named Martin (Willem Dafoe) who is hired by a biotechnology company to slay the last remaining Tasmanian tiger.
Although the marsupial is believed to be extinct, Martin must pretend to be a dedicated scientist and venture into the dangerous wilderness to appease his ruthless employers.
Martin endures severe isolation, but eventually he begins to care immensely for a woman (Francis O'Connor) and her two young children. The family comes to depend on the enigmatic American. However, he finds himself tangled in his own moral struggle.
The Hunter is a fascinating exploration into the relationship between ecology and humanity. Directed by promising newcomer Daniel Nettheim (who has done a lot of television work), it is visually stunning and captivating to watch.
Of course, one of the main reasons the film is so compelling is Dafoe's performance. The Academy Award nominee has appeared in such renowned films as The English Patient, The Boondock Saints, The Last Temptation of Christ, Platoon, and Shadow of the Vampire -- and he's worked with such famed directors as Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, and Lars Von Trier.
IBTimes had the chance to chat with the accomplished actor about his role in The Hunter (opening April 6).
The producers of The Hunter have said that there was no one else who could play the role of Martin and that you perfectly embody him. Why do you think they feel that way?
I don't know. I can only talk about why I was interested in it. They told me that they needed a guy who was at the end of his career but also fit enough to be able to do the physical stuff that I had to do, Also a guy that you're not sure about, who plays a kind of -- you don't know who he is. I guess it's a mystery. That's what they told me they liked about who I was.
Was that the main reason you took on the project?
When I read the setup, I was attracted to the kind of character it was. One aspect is that it's about a guy who's very misanthropic and cut off at the beginning, and he comes back to his humanity through a kind of compassion. He realizes that he's at the end of his career and that his whole identity is tied up in his work -- he's kind of reflective. Then these things happen to him, and it opens the door for some compassion that he hasn't felt in a long time. I think that's an interesting story because people can always relate to it. Life beats us up, and we close down. We forget that the value of life can be found in what we give to others.
Martin is involved in the brutal business of being a mercenary and stays with a struggling mother and her two children as part of his cover. Why do you think he begins to feel so strongly for them?
I think it's well mixed between his job trying to figure out where this tiger is. He's doing a little snoofing. Someone called this an eco-noir. What's nice is you have the two tracks. You have the very tightly focused narrative of him trying to find this tiger, and with that is all the stuff with the missing husband, and it keeps on sending him to the family. He needs something from them, and clearly, the family needs something from him. He's also in a very special place because he's a little bit in crisis. Not only is he pressured to pull off this job, which is difficult, but he's getting pressure from his employer. They're going to retire him -- he's going to be done. He's reaching the end, so he's in this place where his identity is a little up for grabs. Then he has a relationship with someone that he's kind of forced into. He's only forced into it because of the nature of the job. He needs this base to have in order to go out into the wilderness. He can't stay out in the wilderness the whole time. It's not practical. He's got to get back to deal with the technical aspects. So normally in a job, and we don't know this absolutely, he's able to work solitarily, but now he has to deal with these people. In dealing with them, his humanity is reawakened.