Tim Kirkby on his action crime film ‘Last Looks’

Photo courtesy of RJLE Films
Photo courtesy of RJLE Films

Director Tim Kirby (“Brockmire,” Action Point) brings us a slow burning, yet epic, action crime film with Last Looks.

Written by Howard Michael Gould (Mr. 3000), Last Looks features an all-star cast including Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”, The Gentlemen), Morena Baccarin (Deadpool, “Homeland”), Mel Gibson (Lethal Weapon, Braveheart), Rupert Friend (Young Victoria, “Homeland”), Lucy Fry (Bright, “Godfather of Harlem”), Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption, Starship Troopers), Dominic Monaghan (Lord of the Rings, “Lost”), and Cliff “Method Man” Smith (Concrete Cowboy, “Power Book II: Ghost”).

Charlie Waldo (Charlie Hunnam) is an ex-LAPD superstar who left the force and now lives a life of simplicity and solitude deep in the woods. Alistair Pinch (Mel Gibson) is an eccentric actor who spends his days drunk on the set of his TV show. When Pinch’s wife is found dead, he is the prime suspect and Waldo is convinced to come out of retirement to investigate what happened. The case finds Waldo contending with gangsters, Hollywood executives and pre-school teachers, all in pursuit of clearing Pinch’s name … or confirming his guilt.

Check out my interview with Tim!

How did you become attached to directing the project?

Tim: Yes, sure. So, I was in LA editing a project, and I was sniffing around for the next project. I am sort of known as a comedy director, so I get sent a lot of comedy scripts, be them studio or independent ones with no money, that sort of thing. Some of them are lovely, some of them not. But this was quite intriguing. It started off in a very quiet place and there was this character who had long hair, was quite feral, quite sort of tortured, and I was sort of seduced immediately by the minimalism of this human. And then he sort of gets catapulted into the pollution of LA, in his point of view. And I loved that contrast. I thought this was really interesting. I’ve always wanted to do something in Los Angeles, I find LA fascinating and a brilliant playground to have a story. So I was very intrigued by this tortured individual who sort of found himself back in the place that he hates. 

And I’d also been a sort of fan of the 70s detective films like The Long Goodbye and Chinatown, so I thought it’s a great opportunity to investigate whether this is something to get involved with. And then I found Charlie Hunnam was attached to it. So I met with Charlie and the producer and we got on really well and I loved that Charlie was already growing his hair at that point. He was amazing, Charlie, what a special unique spirited individual, incredibly open and I loved him. So I thought this is really a nice project, and I will do my very best. Then I met the writer, Howard Gould, who has a really interesting sort of career in comedy, and we connected. So, between the three of us and Andrew Lazar, the producer, we sort of all united and just very much tried to figure this project out. Who was going to play Alistair, where it’s going to be filmed, what was the budget, etc, etc. Some projects you’re attached to, and they drift in and out, but this was one that it just felt that at some point it was going to happen because it’s Charlie’s passion, my passion. And then when Mel (Gibson) came aboard, it was like, ‘right let’s let’s do this. Let’s do this as soon as we can.’

Had you read the book before coming on to direct?

Tim: No, I had not. And sometimes I like it that way. I’ve worked on a couple of projects actually, in the UK, where I’ve been seduced by the material and then read the book. And I sort of prefer it that way around really because if you read the book and then you read the screenplay, they’re always different beasts. There are very few books that translate naturally to the screen, or verbatim rather. So after reading the book, there was a huge attempt to try and be as faithful to the book as possible. But obviously, you’re making a film and you need to keep the audience’s attention, otherwise, every film would be two and half hours long. I certainly didn’t want this to be a long film. I mean, at 1:15, it’s not a short film, but I also wanted that slow beginning. I wanted just the audience to level with the character and just be with him for a bit and just see what he’s about. Why is he stuck? And then, when he gets to LA, you’re in this sort of fever dream of a roller coaster that doesn’t let up really. So, the book and the screenplay had a very still opening, which was quite important to me to keep.

Photo courtesy of RJLE Films
What was it like working with Charlie and Mel and the whole cast?

Tim: Superb, absolutely superb. I’d known Charlie for a long time, we would meet up a lot and talk about it. When I zoomed Mel to talk about it, we just got on very well. He’s got a great sense of humor. He likes mucking around and he loved this character. We both connected to, you know, those figures that used to populate the British screens in the 70s, like Oliver Reed and Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton. And in many ways, the reason why Alistair is slightly heightened and slightly caricatured is because he’s based on one of those characters who were genuinely like that. So in this day and age, in 2022, this is slightly out of place and we enjoyed that. We embrace that. And every time he was on set, he looked fantastic. He had this slightly pretentious kind of soul patch of a beard, fluffed up his hair, you know, we just wanted to make sure that the eccentricities of what Peter O’Toole used to wear and that very slightly kind of flamboyant out of date, basic character was always fun to be around. He was wonderful. Morena was cool. She came in and she’s good at improvising and opening up scripts. She and Charlie got on so well, they really connected in their scenes. And part of the pleasure of this film are the cameos, the supporting cast where I wanted to populate Charlie, with people from all walks of life. So, you know, David Pasquesi, Dominic Monaghan; and Clancy Brown, one of my heroes, Kurgan from Highlander came in for a day. It was good because sometimes LA is like that, you walk in and you meet someone waiting and they’re like your best friend and then you meet someone else. These sort of characters come and go in your day. And everyone just had a blast on the set. It was like a little family, because we were sort of out in the wilderness half the time and just trying to cook up a really, really lovely film.

What would you say was your favorite part of filming the movie? 

Tim: Yeah, I liked all the Charlie and Mel scenes to be honest because they’re two halves of the same person and I just loved their stories, they’re both sort of broken characters. I loved the Mel/Charlie days because they’re just great in front of each other, they’re friends. We’d push the scripts around, enjoy it, we’d laugh and then we’d shoot a couple and then we would try something else. They’re both up for trying stuff. They were my favorites, the Charlie/Mel days. And then I loved all the stuff in the wild, because I thought it was a really nice angle to the character. It really sort of set up who he was. I mean, every day was a challenge, every day sort of threw up something completely different. It’s very dense, the film, there’s a lot of scenes, many characters, a lot of detail. And the constant is Charlie Hunnam, Charlie Waldo. It’s fun sort of getting Charlie Hunnam and putting him in odd situations because he’s such a Zen guy. He’s so chill and then you’d go. ‘right, now you’re going to run into this room of 20 people. You’re going to shout your head off. And then once you’ve done that, we’re going to do a really still scene,’ and he was just up for it. And I like that sort of discombobulating approach to put him right in the firing lane. Nothing was consistent for him. And because he’s so amazing and up for it, it was a pleasure to do that everyday.

Photo courtesy of RJLE Films
The title of the movie and the book is Last Looks. Can you just explain what that means in regard to the story?

Tim: Howard’s using film industry production terms for his books, so you have “Last Looks,” the first one and “Below The Line,” the second one. Below the line means everyone below the line and above the line, something in marketing, I think. Last looks is a term that the first assistant director shouts out when it’s the last time that the actor can have their makeup touched up before we do a take. So, you do a rehearsal and then you go, ‘last looks!’ and then they run on, do a bit of touching up and then we roll the cameras. It seemed to be a fitting title for the film. It’s fitting for Alistair’s crime, it’s the last roll of the dice, and one of the characters says at the end, but we’re trying to use the term to mean a couple of different things. Essentially, it’s a film production term used by makeup artists.

Are there any plans or anything to adapt Howard’s second book?

Tim: Yeah, maybe? I think so? I talk to Howard all the time and I think Alistair Pinch comes back in the fourth one, which he’s writing now, but I don’t know. I would love to do it again. I’d love to get Charlie and Morena back because it’s more about their relationship in Book Two, which I think needs to be seen really, because it’s quite hard to hold Morena back in this film, because she’s so amazing. And her character is so relevant. So, I’d love to sort of continue right from where we left off. Definitely.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add about Last Looks?

Tim: It’s so hard to get a film made. I’m just in awe of anyone who gets to get to make a film. I’m really excited for people to see Last Looks. I’m excited to see the performances and see the audience get in on that adrenaline fueled ride. I just hope everyone enjoys it and I’m super excited for it to finally be going out.

Photo courtesy of RJLE Films
Last Looks is now available in theaters and digital!