Chloé Zhao was one of Deadline’s Ones To Watch out of the Cannes Film Festival this year, where her sophomore feature, The Rider, premiered. Its journey since then has been remarkable, playing film festivals around the world, including a slot at Toronto, before its Sundance premiere this week. And Zhao stopped by Deadline’s Sundance Studio to share the just-as-remarkable journey her lead actor went on during and after the making of the film.
The Rider stars newcomer Brady Jandreau, and like The Tale and American Animals in this year’s festival, it similarly draws on life to tell its story. Jandreau effectively plays himself in the film, a professional rodeo rider who finds his life thrown into disarray after a life-threatening accident.
Zhao made her first film, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and when she returned to visit she met Jandreau. “In the basement of a ranch that he was working at,” Zhao told me.
Zhao wrote the script around Jandreau’s accident, which happened in April 2016. “We shot the film in September and October, so it was very fresh for him,” Zhao said. “Then to see him in May [at Cannes], just a little over a year after his injury, was fun.”
Check out the video above for more from Zhao.
The Deadline Studio is presented by Hyundai. Special thanks to Calii Love.