As twisted as it is, the NC-17 rated Killer Joe is one of the best films I’ve seen this year. One of the reasons why is the movie’s stellar cast, which includes Emile Hirsch as Chris Smith, a scummy drug addict who arranges the murder of his mother in order to get her life insurance.
With the film now in limited release, Hirsch spoke to The Seattle Times on what inspired him to take on such a dark role in the violent and unsettling film.
Hirsch’s character waivers about his decision to off his mother for money, something that Hirsch thought was comparable to one of the greatest roles in the history of theater. He explains, “In the two years before we shot Killer Joe, I was trying to make a film version of a contemporary Hamlet, which we ended up not getting the financing for. But studying the play as much as I did — and I watched all the film versions I could find and I watched a bunch of stage versions and read some books on it — I think it really helped me portray Chris. I do.”
Hirsch explains that another aspect that drew him to the project was working with director William Friedkin. “They didn’t tell me much about the script. They just told me that Billy was directing. So I went into it totally blind. I hate synopses and little plot lines that agents pitch. So I read Killer Joe, and I didn’t know what to think. It was a very odd experience reading it — much akin to the feelings I had watching the film the first time: a mixture of comedy and drama and confusion and alternating revulsion and terror — which I love. I think that’s the strength of it, the kind of places that it goes.”