Writer, director and producer Clint Bentley joined the stars of Jockey — Clifton Collins Jr. and Molly Parker — onstage at Deadline’s Contenders Film: Los Angeles award-season event Sunday to discuss the Sony Pictures Classics horse racing drama.
“It was from a very personal place,” Bentley said. “My dad was a jockey, so I grew up behind the barns, I grew up being babysat by the trainers as he was out exercising horses. There are many horse racing films, but of the ones that we do have, none at all deal with jockeys.”
“I had never seen the back side of the tracks,” said Parker, “where all of the trainers and the jockeys live, so it was a completely new world to me, as I think these guys were saying, to a film audience too. We just haven’t seen this.”
In the film, Collins stars as an aging jockey hoping to win one last title for his longtime trainer (Parker), who has acquired what appears to be a championship horse. But the years – and injuries – have taken a toll on his body, throwing into question his ability to continue his lifelong passion. And the arrival of a young rookie rider (Moises Arias), who claims to be his son and whom he takes under his wing, further complicates the path to fulfilling his dream.
“I think as an artist you’re always stealing from the world and life,” says Collins, “so there’s so many aspects like dropping weight… I dropped to 143, pretty fast.”
“His pants didn’t fit him by the end of production,” added Bentley.
“He would still come with you to lunch and just watch you eat,” said Parker.
“For me, a desire to be accepted and embraced as one of them was my main goal,” said Collins. “Occasionally I would cheat, past 5 o’clock I might have a peanut M&M or two and there was always guilt with this. Pound for pound, the toughest athletes on the planet. Just little and tough, and they break bones like it could be like putting your shoes on in the morning. And if you break something and think you can still race, because some of these guys race two or three times a day, they’ll hide their injuries and they’ll get on that horse. The love it that much.”
Logan Cormier and Colleen Hartnett also star in the film directed by Bentley, who co-wrote it with Greg Kwedar. Sony Classics acquired the pic after its Sundance debut in January and will open it December 29 in Los Angeles and New York, followed by a national expansion.
Check out the panel video above.
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