Sundance: John Slattery Premieres Gritty Directorial Debut 'God's Pocket'

John Slattery Sundance - P 2014
AP Images

John Slattery Sundance - P 2014

The black comedy starring his "Mad Men" co-star Christina Hendricks and Philip Seymour Hoffman drew shoppers from Netflix, Fox Searchlight and Participant.

Mad Men's Christina Hendricks said co-star John Slattery showed "a levity I haven't seen" as he made his directorial debut with the gritty black comedy God's Pocket, which had its world premiere Friday at the Eccles Theatre at the Sundance Film Festival.

Hendricks, who plays a bereaved mother who still exudes irresistible sex appeal, said during a discussion after the film that she and Slattery enjoyed "a sort of shorthand" while working on the project.

Having performed a lot in front of the camera, Slattery said he tried to exercise restraint while directing a cast that also includes Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jenkins and John Turturro.

VIDEO: 5 Breakout Stars at this Year's Sundance Film Festival

Hoffman, who plays Hendricks' beleaguered husband, a small-time criminal who can't catch a break, said he was drawn to the character's essential unselfishness. "This is a real man," he said. "He's lost, misdirected [but] people rely on him and he comes through. There's something about the goodness of this guy's heart -- and he's a criminal. There's something about that that was very attractive."

The premiere attracted a slew of prospective buyers, including Ted Sarandos of Netflix, Len Amato from HBO, Claudia Lewis from Fox Searchlight, Jim Stern from Endgame and Robert Kessel from Participant.

Slattery told the crowd that he tried intermittently over a period of years to option the Pete Dexter novel that formed the basis of the film. "There was a bedrock of straight talk and casual violence and mayhem that I wanted to be believable," he said.