Hit Man Director Richard Linklater Says Grown-Up Films Out of Fashion in Hollywood

Hit Man Director Richard Linklater Says Grown-Up Films Out of Fashion in Hollywood

Hit Man Director Richard Linklater Says Grown-Up Films Out of Fashion in Hollywood

Richard Linklater, the acclaimed director behind films like “School of Rock” and “Boyhood,” has voiced his concerns about the current state of Hollywood. According to the five-time Oscar nominee, adult stories in movies are now “out of fashion.” His latest project, “Hit Man,” faced significant challenges in gaining traction with traditional film studios, despite receiving positive reactions from critics and audiences alike.

“Hit Man,” which stars Glen Powell and Adria Arjona, is a romantic thriller comedy. The film revolves around Gary, a disillusioned professor who moonlights as Ron, a fake hitman for a city police department. The plot thickens when he falls for a woman who tries to hire him. The story is inspired by the real-life experiences of Gary Johnson, a community professor who worked as a fake assassin for the Houston police. Johnson passed away in 2022, just before the film was made.

Linklater and Powell, who co-wrote the script, aimed to infuse the movie with passion and sexuality. “I said, it’s gonna have sex, it’ll be passionate, it’ll be carnal, the desire that drives everything,” Linklater told the BBC. He emphasized that the film’s strong chemistry and sexuality were central to its narrative.

Linklater lamented the lack of adult themes in contemporary cinema. “When I was 13 years old and looking at movies, I thought the adult world looked pretty interesting, it looked fun and I thought, ‘I can’t wait to get there!’ But it wasn’t just the sex, it was the adult situations they showed,” he said. He believes Hollywood has shifted towards making films that cater to a younger audience, neglecting the complexities of adult life.

Powell, who has previously collaborated with Linklater, echoed these sentiments. He noted that relationships in movies no longer have the same spark. “Relationships don’t really crackle any more in movies,” he said. The trio, including Arjona, had numerous discussions about what constitutes genuine excitement and sexiness for audiences. These conversations were crucial in shaping the film’s intimate scenes.

Despite the challenges, “Hit Man” has been well-received by critics. The Guardian’s Wendy Ide praised Powell’s performance, while The Atlantic’s David Sims highlighted the chemistry between Powell and Arjona. Linklater joked that with Powell’s upcoming roles, audiences might experience a “summer of Glen.”

Linklater also criticized the industry’s reluctance to take risks. “You don’t get fired for doing a sequel or an origin story, something that already exists,” he said. He believes that films are now greenlit by marketing departments, leading to safer, more commercial choices. “I think of ‘Hit Man’ as a movie to have fun with, there should always be room for some sexy couple movies,” he added.

The director revealed that the film was made independently, with him and Powell writing the script speculatively during the COVID-19 pandemic. They faced numerous frustrating conversations with studios that wanted the film to fit a more conventional mold. “They wanted Ron to be a real hitman, something they’d seen before,” Linklater said. However, Netflix showed enthusiasm for the project, ultimately leading to its release.

Linklater’s comments highlight a broader issue in Hollywood: the diminishing presence of adult-themed films. As the industry continues to prioritize safer, more commercial projects, filmmakers like Linklater struggle to bring nuanced, mature stories to the screen. “Hit Man” serves as a reminder of the rich storytelling potential that lies in exploring adult themes, even if they are currently out of fashion in Hollywood.

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