He calls ‘Hell or High Water’ a “very personal exploration of my own experiences and of a way of life.”
“Exposition in dialogue is something that you do a lot on television, like I was, so it gave me an allergy to that,” Hell or High Water screenwriter Taylor Sheridan told The Hollywood Reporter during the Writer Roundtable. “I look for absurdly simple plots so that I can simply focus on the characters. Having an understanding of what dialogue’s easy to say and hard to say — I think that that’s helpful too.”
Sheridan worked as an actor for nearly 20 years, appearing on shows like Walker, Texas Ranger, Sons of Anarchy and NCIS: Los Angles before transitioning to screenwriting, with his first feature, 2015’s Sicario, starring Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin. The film gained critical acclaim.
“I thought of Jeff Bridges in Hell or High Water and Ben Foster and I kept trying very hard not to, because you’re terrified you’re going to write this thing that then feeds specifically to this one person that then won’t do it.”
More roundtables featuring actresses, actors, directors, songwriters, documentarians, composers and producers will continue throughout February in print and online. Tune in to new episodes of Close Up With ‘The Hollywood Reporter’ starting Jan. 15 on Sundance TV, and look for clips at THR.com/topic/roundtables with full episodes on THR.com after broadcast.