The feature directorial debut of Jonathan Watson—who had previously worked for many years as a 1st AD and second unit director, and met McBride on the second season of Eastbound & Down—Arizona follows Cassie Fowler (Rosemarie DeWitt), a single mom who struggles as a realtor in the midst of the 2009 housing crisis. Coming across the unstable Sonny (McBride)—a disillusioned buyer in the process of losing his home—Cassie witnesses a murder and is dragged into a frightening game of cat-and-mouse within a sparsely inhabited housing development.
While DeWitt admittedly has little experience in the kinds of heightened worlds that McBride draws, as an actor, producer, writer and director, McBride has managed to create his own distinct cinematic universe, in which he can explore the extremes of humanity set against the backdrop of the American working and middle class milieu.
“I just feel like it’s kind of fun to try to read a character where you don’t know if that character will translate to people, or work, or not. I was trying to figure out how to ground it or how to find empathy in a character that, on the page, kind of seems like a joke,” McBride explained of his artistic drives, sitting down at Deadline’s Sundance Studio yesterday.
“And in all the movies I’ve been in, I’ve only killed one person, which is Craig Robinson,” he continued. “In this one, there’s a lot more people to kill, so it was like, ‘Let’s do this movie. Let’s kill more people.’”
McBride was joined in the studio by Watson and much of the film’s cast, including DeWitt, Luke Wilson, Lolli Sorenson, Elizabeth Gillies and Kaitlin Olson, the latter of which shares McBride’s passion for extremes, as displayed on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Mick.
“I think there’s something very funny about a broken person,” the actress told Deadline. “I also just like to yell a lot, so I think they were like, ‘We need a b*tch.'”
To hear more from the Arizona collaborators—including a story about Watson’s trial-by-fire experience on Eastbound—click above.
The Deadline Studio is presented by Hyundai. Special thanks to Calii Love.