“What’s extraordinary, I think, is this is a very finely balanced piece — it’s very funny and it’s very sad, and I think that’s on the page,” producer Graham Broadbent told Deadline’s Joe Utichi recently at the The Contenders London event, regarding Martin McDonagh’s pitch-black comedy Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. “What we have in Martin in this film is, in a sense, a puppet master. It’s very finely balanced, and if you went just one degree wrong, it simply would fail to work.”

Featuring an ensemble including Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Lucas Hedges, the film stars Frances McDormand as Mildred, a furious mother in mourning after the brutal rape and murder of her daughter, who takes her small town’s police to task with a series of caustic billboards.

Having worked with Rockwell and Harrelson previously on 2012’s Seven Psychopaths, and known for keeping his actors close, McDonagh had no trouble making decisions while casting up the film. “Sam, Frances and Woody are like the most truthful actors working in American movies today,” the director said, “so it was a no-brainer to write something for them.”

Check out the conversation with McDonagh and Broadbent above.