Timothy Woodward Jr. aims to please audiences as an actor (Redefining Love, Scott in Hollywood East), producer (WEAPONiZED) and director (Traded, American Violence). This South Carolina native recently answered questions about in his latest directed film (his twelfth) the western Hickok (now showing in theaters and available on demand & digital HD), which stars Luke Hemsworth (HBO’s Westworld), Trace Adkins, Cameron Richardson and veteran actors Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Dern.
Please describe the core casting process for Hickok including Luke Hemsworth as Wild Bill Hickok with Trace Adkins, Cameron Richardson and veteran actors Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Dern.
The cast on this movie really came together well! I had worked previously with Kris, Trace and Bruce. Kris Kristofferson was the first to join the cast. He’s a legend and has such a amazing presence on camera. Luke Hemsworth and I met before he signed on to the project and we had a great conversation. He had such a positive energy and was genuinely excited about the material. It’s always refreshing to meet with actors who are excited to be doing what they’re doing. From there we where talking back and fourth with Trace Adkins about his schedule and whether or not we could make it work and I am so glad we did because he brings so much to the role. Bruce Dern was the last to join the cast as Doc Rivers. All the actors did an amazing job and I really enjoyed working with them.
How was it working with Adkins and Kristofferson again (from your 2016 directed film, also a western titled Traded)?
Trace Adkins and Kris Kristofferson are absolutely fantastic to work with. Both are probably two of the nicest, most down to earth people you will ever meet. I am so glad I could get them both back. We tweaked the script here and there to play off of both of there strengths.
What do you do to keep high morale/positive attitudes during Hickok’s production?
Ice Cream and Red Bull…. Oh Yea and lots of coffee. The best thing about working on this film is that everyone was so excited to be on set! We all created such a strong bond during production and I think it really shows. Who doesn’t want to play cowboys?
How do you find a comfort zone when you are in the public eye in front of many people?
I think as an artist of any sort you are never truly comfortable. You are always in competition with your self to do better. My job as a director though is to become a leader while on set and to give guidance and assurance to the actors so I have to be in my comfort zone to some degree so its tricky
How did you approach the myth, lore and even stereotypes among these famous characters (most notably “Wild Bill” Hickok) and the western film genre.
I love history, so for me, being able to bring a legendary character to life is like being able to walk through a history book. The western is probably my favorite genre. I love the grittiness and that it’s such a unique part of American culture. I wanted to stay true to that, but I also wanted to bring a little bit of myself to it as well. So we had to take our own creative licenses and really try to make Wild Bill feel like a normal man who is flawed and has his own demons and inner conflict. Wild Bill had a ton of legends written about him so we had to look past some of those and to try and see them man behind the legend
My casting director, Lauren de Normandie, was also a huge help with this. I explained to her the look and feel I wanted and she was able to surround our lead cast with great character actors who embodied the old west.
What are the most memorable filming sequence you’ve ever had?
I think one of the most memorable filming sequences I’ve ever had was the train sequence in my other western “Traded”. Filming a horse chasing a moving train then having someone jump from the horse to the train was absolutely incredible. Sometimes I still can’t believe we pulled it off. I also really enjoyed filming the war scene in Hickok it was a lot of fun and on the script it was 1/8th of a page and said ” Civil War Scene” so I was making a lot of it up as I went and it was a blast to have that kind of creative freedom.
What are some of the most common misunderstandings/misconceptions about filmmaking?
That anyone with a camera can make a great movie. Film making is such a team effort and there is so much that goes into making a film, and a lot of it comes down to the experience. Every time I start a project I try to learn something new which allows myself and my to take bigger and creative risks.
Not to knock anyone who wants to go out there and give it a try. If I hadn’t just jumped in and made a movie regardless of whether or not anyone thought I had any business making a movie 5 years ago, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
Describe you experience producing this film and the collaboration with Lauren de Normandie, Henry Penzi and Chris Nicoletti as well as executive producers Benjamin Gerry, JD Seraphine, Kirk Peterson and Eric Peterson.
I’ve worked with all these producers several times, and when you’re in the trenches making a film the cast and crew really becomes like a family. I had a great experience working with everyone on the Hickok team.
Envision your future in acting, directing and producing…do you see yourself doing one more than the other?)
Directing is really where my passion is. I love taking a story and bringing it to life. The journey from script to screen is really an amazing process and you get to work with some amazing people along the way. That’s not to say that if the right thing came along I wouldn’t jump back in front of the camera, but it would have to be something that really spoke to me.
What are some of your upcoming projects?
I actually just finished a project called In the Absence of Good Men with Sean Faris, Milo Gibson, Jason Patric, Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Peter Facinelli. It’s a 1920s film about Al Capone and his right hand man Jack McGurn and the war with the Bugs Moran gang that led to the Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929. It was a pretty intense shoot, but we’re really excited about how it all came together.