Director Walter Hill of Death for a Dollar



The veteran filmmaker talks about his new western with two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz.

The first time I met the great filmmaker Walter Hill, he was working on his first feature film as a director — hard times, the gritty 1975 Depression-era drama starring Charles Bronson — and I was working on set in my hometown of New Orleans as an assistant unit publicist. And I was struck by two things: first, even when faced with the pressures of directing, he was always friendly and open while I interviewed him for the press kit; second, he was a real trouper during a long shoot inside a warehouse where the stench of discarded oyster shells hung in the air like the plague.

Luckily, no stench attached itself to the finished film. In effect, hard times was successful enough to launch Hill into a career highlighted by films as diverse as The driver (1978), The Warriors (1979), 48 hours. (1982), streets of fire (1984), Last man standing (1996) – and the acclaimed Westerns The long riders (1980), Geronimo: an American legend (1993), wild beak (1995), and broken path (1995). It’s no coincidence that he won an Emmy and a DGA Award for directing the first episode of dead wood (2004).

Hill is back in the saddle with dead for a dollar, a terrific new western he dedicated to his friend and mentor Budd Boetticher, and which draws heavily on the classic spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone. Two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz stars in the drama – playing a somewhat different type of bounty hunter than he portrayed in Django Unchained (2012)— alongside Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Willem Dafoe (a veteran of Hill’s streets of fire), Benjamin Brat (Law and order), Brandon Scott (Grey’s Anatomy) and Warren Burke (Netflix Family meeting).

Walter Hill joined me in the THIS Studio this week to reminisce about old times — and to talk about his new movie, which hits theaters Friday.

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