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“You think you know the story. Then you are like — I didn’t know they were brothers! It’s a great story [to tell],” said lead Michael Keaton at The Founder premiere Wednesday night. The film tells the true story of Ray Kroc (Keaton) and the multibillion-dollar franchise he built from a small, family-owned restaurant owned by the McDonald brothers.
“I knew there was a story behind the story. I knew that there was a person in San Bernardino and there were brothers named McDonald. [But] that’s about all I knew,” John Lee Hancock, director of the film, told The Hollywood Reporter.
Before reading the script, most of the cast knew little about the biography but realized there was a bigger story to be told. Hancock added that he was drawn to Keaton’s complex character when reading the script and that he liked the idea of rooting for his character and then switching to actively pulling against him.
The film surrounds the notion of the American Dream, greed and determination. The cast includes Laura Dern, Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch.
“It’s a human and politically subversive tale any time you are looking at the story of how greed serves one or a few and impacts — sometimes in a devastating way — millions. We see that a lot, particularly recently,” said Dern, who plays Ethel Kroc in the film, and related the story to recent events in the country’s political landscape. “I think it is a very timely movie.”
Kate Kneeland, who plays June Martino, a bookkeeper who became a part-owner of McDonald’s Corporation, told THR, “I grew up with grandmothers who told me you have to make your own way in this world. To play someone who really is one of the pioneers and an amazing feat in the business world is a real honor.”
When asked about their own American Dream, the cast lit up with excitement: “My dream is right here,” added Kneeland. “To get to work with John Lee Hancock and Michael [Keaton] is a dream — and I did it.”
“I am living the dream,” agreed Hancock. “If somebody told me back in Houston, Texas, you get to have one movie and one premiere for a movie but nothing else, I would say I’m so in. I’m here and it’s great.”
The premiere was followed by an afterparty presented by DeLeón Tequila at Delilah in West Hollywood. Keeping the theme of fast-food, the Hollywood hot spot served kitschy burgers, fries and hash browns. Keaton, Dern, B.J Novak, Jeremy Renner and others from the film were among those in attendance.
The Founder opens on Jan. 20.
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