It’s afternoon, and Josh Lucas is calling from the Toronto set of “The Firm,” where he’s wrapping production and then bidding goodbye to his role as Harvard-educated lawyer Mitch McDeere. The NBC series didn’t get a second season pickup, and the handsome, talented actor, who turns 42 in June, is fine with that. “The grind of corporate television was not as rewarding as I thought,” he says. Movies have provided many more rewards, especially his most recent picture, “Hide Away,” an indie film about a troubled businessman who attempts to reclaim his life by refurbishing a broken down boat to better condition.
In the movie, which is available on XFINITY On Demand , Lucas delivers a mesmerizing and measured performance that takes him through the dark labyrinths of pain and recovery. According to Lucas, writer Peter Vanderwall based the story on a real life loss, and director Chris Eyre (“Smoke Signals”) and cinematographer Elliot Davis (“Twilight”) provided its Terrance Malick-like meditative look and feel. “This isn’t for the Marvel-type movie audience,” says Lucas. “It’s a film for people who are looking for a bit of poetry.”
I watched the movie last week and was transfixed for the next 90 minutes. It was a pretty difficult, emotional, but rewarding journey. What about it intrigued you enough to take on the role? It’s a movie that I’ll say straight out is not for everybody. It’s got a pacing and an artistry to it or a kind of a poetry that has a lot to do with silence. The photography is the greatest essence of the movie; it is really about that place. It’s about that harbor and it’s about the loneliness and that isolation and the land and the kind of colors of winter changing and coming and going. The sparseness and the poetry came across in the script. I felt a tragic beauty in it. And I responded to the team of people that were being put together. To answer you more directly, it presented challenges in an artist manner where I thought this is going to be a unique and rare filmmaking experience as much as anything. And that we were going to be out in an empty harbor out in the middle of this just lonely winter…All of that kind of got me.
Challenge seems like the key word. If anything it’s a movie that’s totally about the quiet suffering that I think people mostly go through. Movies are often told through extraordinarily dramatic scenes. But I think when people go through the greatest suffering, they kind of go into a cave like this man does. So I thought the idea of trying to portray that without having words and without big dramatic scenes would test me – and it did. In the beginning of the movie, I found it difficult to play someone who is numb, so numb that he doesn’t feel. Then, slowly, as the winter descended on him, he does begin to feel the pain, which becomes so raw that he can’t ignore it anymore. And the arc of the character is what really fascinated me, and also the pay off of it. I thought it was unique in that there isn’t a real payoff. It doesn’t have a Hollywood end. It’s like this is still a broken man who goes back into the world, and I thought that was ok.
Do you have a favorite scene? The winter element. That long winter montage, you know, where the character is just out, and a lot of action was because the filmmaking of it was so interesting. I mean, we were just literally running around during this blizzard and trying to capture these moments of a man alone and you know, trying to get a little bit of the Jeremiah Johnson elements and reference some of those movies. I don’t know if you know this from the liner notes or not, but this character is in some ways closely based on the true story of the writer who lost his son in a very devastating way. And so that was also a big part of it.
What are some of the special little details you would suggest Xfinity TV users that get this movie watch for? A big part of it is the details of the boat. The details of how this overwrought, rotting, cluttered mass of a boat is very much like this man. It’s the place where you meet the character. There is a complete symmetry between what is happening with the boat and with the soul of this man. There are also a lot of references to light and textures of light that are worth noting because of the beauty and the layering they add to the story.
Obviously this is not a light movie. It’s slow, it’s meditative, it’s dark…it’s provocative, among other things. Who is this movie for? That’s a great question. It’s definitely not for the sort of Marvel audience. It is not – you know, this is not an MTV generation film. It is much more for the people who are out searching for the poetry of film in a way. Maybe also people who have also suffered a bit. I mean, there are things that are cathartic about this film.
Here’s my favorite question. XFINITY On Demand offers thousands of movie choices every night. Why should someone pick “Hide Away?” What’s your pitch? Choose this if you are looking for a movie that feels like it’s from a different era, a different time in a way. To me, it harkens back to ‘70s-type indie movie-making, when films were made for an audience of people who were searching for more personal and literate fare. Many people love those films and still search for those types of films. Now the problem is it is just so difficult to get access to them, which what’s great about what you do to draw attention to movies like this. There’s a certain kind of audience who will quite moved and touched by this film. And also provoked by it in certain ways because, in the end, it doesn’t have answers – and in life, who does?
What’s next for you? Right now I’m finishing up this television series, which has been a difficult, long. Just sort of the grind of corporate television has not been nearly as rewarding as I ever would have hoped. There’s so much good television happening, but this one just sort of fell between the cracks. Then I have a couple of films coming out that I like: one is called Big Sur and based on the Jack Kerouac book, and the other is Red Dog, this wonderful true story about a dog in the Northwest territory of Australia, way, way, way out there. Red Dog is the third highest grossing history of Australia. It is actually the highest grossing DVD in the entire history of Australia and yet they still had a remarkably difficult time getting distribution in America because people thought maybe it’s just too much of an Australian film. But it is a great, great film. I love it. And my wife and I are having a baby in a week. So I’ll take some time off and enjoy that.