Sunday 17 September 2023


This interview originally came out in September 2013 and appeared on the now defunct website WELCOME TO FILM CLUB created by Dave Fineberg. Since that time, Macon has acted in, as well as written and directed, a whole bunch of stuff. 

These days, he’s likely most visible acting in Chris Nolan’s OPPENHEIMER as attorney Lloyd Garrison. At the time of writing, his completed TOXIC AVENGER remake starring Peter Dinklage is about to premiere at Fantastic Fest

An interview with Macon Blair, lead actor in Blue Ruin

You may have read our review of the fantastically, brilliantly, darkly (no more words ending in -y) funny (oh, yeah, one more there) Blue Ruin the other week. We’re very glad to bring you a little interview we did with Macon Blair, the very man who played Dwight in the film. Without further ado, here it is:


> Hi Macon, how are you today?

I’m very well, thank you! How are you? You can’t answer. We are typing this.

> Let’s answer it anyway, as now we’re typing, we’re also very good, all the better for having seen you in Blue Ruin recently. Tell us a bit about where you’re from, and what you do?

I’m from Alexandria, Virginia, and I currently live in Brooklyn, New York. I’m a stay at home dad, and an actor, and a writer.

> We love your new film, Blue Ruin. Can you sum it up in a few sentences for those who know nothing about it?

Thank you! Blue Ruin is kind of an art-house take on the standard American revenge story, in which a mysterious beach bum tries to exact vengeance on a person from his past who had wronged him and the results are disastrous. The director once described it as Wendy & Lucy meets Taxi Driver, which I think is apt.

> So, do you believe revenge should be served cold, hot, or with a semi automatic?

In movies, any of these options can be entertaining. In real life, I’m more of a “write a strongly worded letter” kind of guy. Definitely not a gun person.

> How important do you think websites such as Kickstarter (other website are available) will be to the future of film making? And do you think that power is slowly being wrestled away from Hollywood, and into the hands of independent artists?

I think anything that allows people to support more specific, singular visions that may only appeal to a very small group is a good thing. More variety and weirdness. 

In that sense, crowdfunding is very important. It’s democratic, it’s populist. But I don’t see the big flashy generic studio products being usurped any time soon. You can’t fight City Hall. There’s too much infrastructure there, they make it so easy to gobble up their stuff and for most people that’s enough. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, either; there’s just as many boring sloppy indie movies as there are boring sloppy movies that cost a hundred million bucks. And I love gigantic event movies when they’re done well. But just so long as there is room for everyone, and if platforms like Kickstarter or Indie Go Go help preserve that balance, as far as what kinds of movies people can choose from, then that’s crucial. (Not crucial like how-do-we-fix-the-environment type crucial but, you know, small-potatoes who-gives-a-shit type crucial.)

> A few weeks ago you tweeted “It’s not just me, right? We all use the Starscream voice when impotently annoyed, and the Soundwave voice when smugly self-impressed, yes?”. 

What do you think of the Michael Bay Transformers films, and would you star in one if you were asked? And who would you play? Human? Decepticon or Autobot?

From a technical standpoint, they’re amazing, and I acknowledge that many talented people worked their asses off on those movies but, for me, from a satisfying viewing experience standpoint, I think they’re kind of awful. If someone asked me to star in one, that whistling sound you’d hear would be my principles flying out the window as I leapt to accept the offer. I’d be delighted to sell out, if I thought anyone was buying. I’d like to play Perceptor, the microscope, or Blaster, the boom box. One of the real useless ones.

> You’ve previously mentioned your love for the TV show Orange Is The New Black. 

If you got a role in the next season, that you could choose, what would you wanna do in that show?

I’d love to be a character from one of the inmates’ flashback sequences, where we learn about their pre-prison lives. Maybe an airport baggage handler.

> What might you have for dinner tomorrow?

I was thinking about roasting a chicken. Leftovers all week that way.

> A movie called The Monkey’s Paw that you wrote the screenplay for is currently in post-production. 

Tell us a bit about it. When is it coming out? 

Did you spend much time with stars Stephen Lang and Charles S. Dutton behind-the-scenes?

I was hired to write that screenplay based on a Chiller Network original story concept. It’s a modern retelling of W.W. Jacob’s classic The Monkey’s Paw, done as a crazy slasher-zombie movie. Tons o’ fun. I was not on set, though, and didn’t meet Mr. Dutton or Mr. Lang. But Manhunter is one of my all time favorite films and when I found out Freddy Lounds was going to play the villain I wrote, I was ecstatic.

> You get given a bunch of money and complete creative freedom to re-team with Jeremy Saulnier and make another film. 

What film genre would you guys love to attempt with no limitations? What would your dream cast be for such a project?

Jeremy may have another answer, but I know what I’d do if money, business considerations, and the laws of physics are of no concern: an adaptation of James Ellroy’s Underworld USA trilogy—American Tabloid, The Cold 6000, and Blood’s A Rover. 

I think Tabloid and Rover are in development as single films, but each book needs to be an 8 hour HBO miniseries. They’re too epic to condense, the dark underhistory of midcentury America—the JFK assassination, Martin Luther King, Vietnam, Cuba, Vegas, Haiti. Berserk, engrossing, horrifying historical noir. 

I’ve been thinking about my dream casting for years: Clooney as Boyd, Michael Fassbender as Kemper, Cape Fear era Robert Mitchum as Pete Bondurant, Tom Hardy as Wayne Junior, me as Crutch, Barbara Stanwyck as Joan, Atlantic City era Susan Sarandon as Barb,  Julianne Moore as Jane Arden. 

There’s probably 200 speaking roles, I want Henry Gibson for one, I want young Robert Ryan for another. 

We’ll need time machines and billions of dollars and it would assuredly flop.

> Previous roles in Murder Party, Hellbenders, You Hurt My Feelings, 7 Couches and even the short film Goldfarb, you have played “Macon.” 

In Blue Ruin you play “Dwight” but have also played “Dwight” in the short Quarter Magic. 

Are these characters existing in a universe where they are all the same two guys?

Nope. All different fellows. 

I think directors that I know keep naming their characters ‘Macon’ when they know that I’ll be playing the part. Hopefully they’re not exactly based on me because they’re all kind of fucked up and diseased in some way. 

Dwight comes from my obsession with Dwight Frye, this great character actor from the old days; he played Renfield in Dracula, Fritz in Frankenstein, one of the graverobbers in Bride of Frankenstein, and tons more. He’s got this beautifully insane vibe. Jeremy was brainstorming names for his character and I threw that one out and he seemed to like it. Same thing had happened with Jake’s movie, Quarter Magic, a few years before, but honestly I’d forgotten that when I suggested it again to Jeremy. Can’t get that guy off my mind, I guess.

> You had a bit part in an episode of Law & Order: SVU. What was it like on the set? We’ve not seen the episode ‘Signatures’, did you share any screen time with Richard Belzer or Ice-T?

I sat in a little trailer for most of the day, going over my three lines again and again and then, just as the sun was going down, they hustled me out to grab the scene as fast as they could. I was nervous. I sucked. No Ice-T and no Belzer, sadly, but I got to work with Mariska Hargitay and Erika Christensen, which was really fun for me. I thought for sure I was in with the cool kids now. I tried to friend Ms. Christensen on MySpace afterwards. No dice. *sad trombone sound*

> Finally, can you recommend us 5 films that helped shape the person / actor / writer / father that you have become?

Oh boy. I’m not sure what kind of any of those things I’ve become (I mean, hopefully halfway decent ones though there’s always time to blow it) but I can tell you some movies that take up a lot of real estate in my brain:

Angel Heart (Parker)

Touch of Evil (Welles)

Sherman’s March (McElwee)

Ball of Fire (Hawks)

Trust ( Hartley)


Blue Ruin is currently doing the festival circuit, so keep your eyes peeled for when it gets a general release. 

You can follow Macon on twitter at

(questions were compiled by Dave S Fineberg & Anthony Davies)


Literally a decade ago, I made best pals with a guy at the Melbourne International Film Festival while we were volunteering together. It was a magical time. And the kind of friendship that Bromances are made of. I won't dazzle you with the details except to say that my new friend was an industrious fellow and one of his many extra-curricular activities was running a website called WELCOME TO FILM CLUB. The site has long since gone to heaven but at the time he asked me if I'd like to review one of the movies we'd seen at the festival. And that movie ended up being BLUE RUIN. This is that review. Recorded here for posterity. 

Without resorting to hyperbole, Jeremy Saulnier's second feature length film Blue Ruin is one of the best revenge movies I've ever seen in my entire life.

It is not only a completely refreshing take on the genre (it almost entirely succeeds in flipping previously established conventions on their head) but one of the most nerve-wracking experiences I've had in a cinema in a very long time.

If you're expecting to see Charles Bronson effortlessly taking people out, or Liam Neeson getting wounded (but never in any danger of dying) and saving the day, you're at the wrong revenge flick. You should walk away now. If not, you'll probably deal.

Someone's personal viewing experience of anything is largely subjective and I couldn't possibly anticipate what you'll get out of this movie. Or if you'll even connect. 

Of the two people I went to see it with, one of them turned to me at the end and said, "Well, that was grim" with a half smile and a nervous expression on their face. The other person was still staring at the screen. When I asked them, they said with a blank look, "I'm not sure what I think about this yet."

Regardless of their initial responses, both of them, and much of the larger audience around me, seemed greatly affected by this film.  

Personally, I think that's a good sign. 

When my film viewing partners in crime asked the same question of me, I replied with:

"That movie was essentially about what would actually happen if Bruce Wayne were a regular person with no money. That was Real Life Batman."

To sum it up in two sentences is to do the film a great disservice. I went into Blue Ruin with zero expectation and came out the other side, having been thoroughly engaged and absolutely impressed.

I literally felt like I was taken on the journey with the main character Dwight (Macon Blair, in a career-defining role) every step of the way. I really connected with his character despite the fact that he barely utters a word for the first 15 minutes of the film.

Blue Ruin's strengths lie in its subtlety. At no point does any of the dialogue feel like exposition or forced for a quick laugh to relieve tension. Much of the back story isn't hammered home. Whenever it gets close to delving into movie stereotype territory, it feels like more of a knowing homage than a lazy cliche. 

You won't get the conveniently found, obsessively kept scrap book full of newspaper clippings to explain what's been going on for the last twenty years. But you might catch a sideways glimpse of a folded newspaper on a car seat that has the slightest inkling of what has been happening, on the front page.

This film does what many often fail to achieve in any genre. It makes you feel like you're no longer watching something at the cinema and are instead voyeuristically immersed in another person's life.

There were a few moments where I had to calm myself down and briefly turn my inner monologue over to, "Relax. This isn't real. Nothing bad is going to happen to you. It's just a movie."

That's how intense this movie gets if you let it. And a big part of that impact exists because it feels so realistic.

Whether or not this film is legitimately realistic is moot. What they have successfully achieved is creating a believable universe where you feel like this is exactly how it would "realistically" play out. This gives the film an edge at every corner because it becomes completely unpredictable even when you think you know. It's very clever in the way that it telegraphs things that often don't end up happening at all.

I've purposefully strayed away from too many plot points in this "review." I don't think it's necessary. You need only know that it's a revenge movie and let it take you on that ride.

I will say this, however. This movie is often hilarious. Humorous scenes that might not work in a lesser film, or even be funny in other contexts, have that much more of a comedic impact, probably because of the emotional tightrope you're on (as well as obviously the consistent strength of the performances).

I also like that this film has a lead character who is pretty much a homeless* person. Too often a portrayal of a vagrant is played for laughs or just used as furniture to make something more "urban" and "bleak." 

But I can't think of a film that I've actually seen since Lucille Ball in Stone Pillow where a homeless person was portrayed as a human being. Any one of us; all of us are often one horrific tragedy, some bad luck and an inability to cope away from homelessness. That person on the street could be you. Now imagine if you had to wreak vengeance? And you're not in the film Hobo with a Shotgun?    

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If you've seen Jeremy Saulnier's first feature Murder Party (2007) you might think you have something to compare it to, but these films are light years away from each other. Murder Party was a great idea and certainly had its moments but Blue Ruin is a game changer. 

The years of experience that writer/director Saulnier has accrued since Murder Party as the cinematographer of other films like I Used to be Darker (2013) has obviously had an affect. As both the director and cinematographer on Blue Ruin, know that this film looks amazing. Not a shot wasted. Not a second of screen time misused. 

If it has been released in time to be nominated for all sorts of upcoming awards in 2014, I would be really surprised if this didn't win anything at all. I think it could be a real contender. 

The success of this film as an indie cinematic vehicle that showcases so much talent in so many areas is made even more courageous by the fact that this was completed on a tiny budget. In fact it was partly financed with crowdfunding. 

A Kickstarter that only finished being funded in August last year. You can see it here and read what the film makers say about it themselves to give you an idea of what was at stake to get this movie onto the screen:

"We're going all in - Maxing our credit cards, refinancing homes and cashing in retirement accounts. But we need $35K-$50K in cash to cover expenses we can't swipe, barter for, or defer."

The gamble paid off.

If you get a chance to see Blue Ruin on the big screen, you should without hesitation. I guarantee you an experience versus turning your brain off for 90 minutes. You will most definitely escape, it just might not be somewhere you'd naturally want to go. But if you're anything like me, you'll be so glad that you did.

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*Had I been writing this review in 2023, I'd definitely have said "unhoused person" instead of "homeless."