Emile Hirsch on John Belushi Biopic: 'Walter Mitty' Writer 'Sold Me' on Project

11:26 AM PST 11/05/2013 by Hilary Lewis
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Emile Hirsch

At an N.Y. screening of his new indie, "The Motel Life," the actor talked to THR about what attracted him to the movie about the late comedian and what he expects from the project.

Emile Hirsch will soon be seen alongside Stephen Dorff in the indie The Motel Life, which hits theaters and VOD on Friday.

But just last week, the Into the Wild star signed on to play John Belushi in a biopic about the late Saturday Night Live star, written and directed by The Secret Life of Walter Mitty screenwriter Steve Conrad.

Hirsch, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter at a screening of The Motel Life in New York on Monday, said Conrad was the one who got him interested in the part.

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"I was kind of surprised when I first heard about it," Hirsch told THR. "But I sat down with Steve Conrad, the writer-director, and he just kind of has a vision for it and was just really enthusiastic about it, and he sold me and got me really, really excited about it."

THR previously reported that the movie is scheduled to begin shooting in the spring, but Hirsch said he didn't know what to expect from the project.

"It's so early right now. I don't know what it'll be like or what it will yield," he said.

The actor also reportedly recently became a dad, but members of the press were forbidden from asking questions about his new son.

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Hirsch, however, was happy to talk about how he bonded with Dorff, who plays his on-screen brother in The Motel Life.

The two said they solidified their friendship through drinking and gambling in Reno, Nev., where the film takes place.

But their gambling sessions weren't always successful, they noted.

"My instincts as an actor failed me on the blackjack table," Hirsch said.

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In the film, based on Willy Vlautin's novel, Dorff and Hirsch's characters work odd jobs and drift from motel to motel with their only escape the stories that Hirsch's character tells and Dorff's character's illustrations. After Dorff's character is involved in a hit-and-run accident, though, he and Hirsch's characters are forced to go on the run from the law.

"It's just a really straightforward dramatic piece of material that has an emotional core to it that I think a lot of those dramas have a hard time getting financing now or are just not made," Hirsch said.

Dorff said he thought they should play brothers some time ago.

"We've known each other before," Dorff said. "I've told him I wanted to play his brother in a movie at some point."

The film, which won the audience award at last year's Rome Film Festival, was directed by real-life brothers Alan and Gabe Polsky in their directorial debut. Alan Polsky said he thought their family connection helped them get the film made.

"I think that people were like, 'You guys really know this subject matter,' and I feel like the fact that we are brothers was kind of able to work to our advantage," he said. "I think at the end of the day, there's an honesty that we bring to it that brothers have."

The Motel Life will be released in select theaters and on demand on Nov. 8.

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