Our chat with Lionsgate’s “Rumble Through The Dark” Directors Graham Phillips, & Parker Phillips about redemption against all odds #RumbleThroughTheDark

Our chat with Lionsgate’s “Rumble Through The Dark” Directors Graham Phillips, & Parker Phillips about redemption against all odds

Golden Globe® nominee Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight) stars as a desperate, bare-knuckle cage fighter battling for the only thing he has left in Rumble Through the Dark, a riveting action-thriller based on Michael Farris Smith’s celebrated novel The Fighter. Bella Thorne (The DUFF) shines alongside Eckhart in this gripping film about one man’s last-ditch effort to save his family home against the strongest of foes and the longest of odds.

In theaters November 3, 2023, On Demand and Digital November 10, 2023. On Blu-ray and DVD December 19, 2023.


How did this project come to you and why did you decide to work on it?

Graham Phillips, & Parker Phillips:

Well, Parker actually discovered the book. We were reading a lot of Southern Gothic books, and he was about halfway through, uh, The Fighter, which is what the film is based on. And he texted me and he’s like, I think I found our next film, and I got maybe a quarter of the way through the book. And then by that point, Parker had already gotten Michael Farris Smith the author’s email and emailed him, said, we’d love to turn this into a film.

And by that point, he hadn’t even finished. We were so excited about it. We haven’t even gotten to the end of the book before we tried to option it, so there was still a possibility that it was that the landing wouldn’t get stuck. But we had faith. And yeah, we just really loved that it was such a specific expose of this isolated character and his path to redemption and. Yeah, the environment and the landscape of Mississippi really plays a big role in this film and in the book.

And that really spoke to us. And also for such a brutal, raw story about a fighter. It had this really tender, tender piece to it, which was the love between a mother and a son, no matter how they came to be. And that that really resonated with my brother and I, um, and I think, you know, at the end of the day, that really set the story apart from anything we had seen in the, you know, fighting realm.

You mentioned the location. Tell us about the locations. you mentioned Mississippi, right? Was it all filmed in the South?

Graham Phillips, & Parker Phillips:

Yeah. So the story took place in Mississippi, and it became very important for us after touring the area that we actually shoot the film there. It has a very specific energy about the place. There’s a lot of history in the soil it feels like, and in the atmosphere that influences that. It’s certainly influenced us and we feel like it influenced the actors and the performances. You know, there’s just this history of oppression, of guilt, of rage, of joy.

Um, and so we felt strongly that it needed to be filmed there. And aesthetically, it has a very distinct look because it’s lush, it’s fertile, but it’s got this flat delta that’s wet right next to the river, um, and all these cotton fields and farmland and the antebellum homes in the juke joints. It’s just got a very specific aesthetic to it.

But, you know, when you shoot outside of LA, you know, it’s to them, you know, movies are a cool thing and they really want to support it. And they’re really proud of, you know, their town. And, you know, I hope that shows throughout the movie because, you know, we were as well.


How was it working with Aaron Eckhart and Bella Thorne?

Graham Phillips, & Parker Phillips:

Yeah. Mean Aaron was you know, Aaron was the first person we cast, obviously. And you know, the minute his name was mentioned, you know, we were like, he’s he’s the guy. We have to have him. And you know we kind of all you could do is make the offer and cross your fingers and hope he says, yes. Um, and then once from our first phone call with him, we knew that he was, we were right. And he was our guy and he totally understood the story on a very deep level. Um, personally, he had a lot of similarities with the character that he could bring into our film, which we were very excited about, and he really knew that for him, this would be a special role, something he’s never done before, and that he’d really have to throw himself into it.

And, you know, that’s exactly what he did. And Bella, really, Bella was a mirror image of that. You know, she brought so much of the character that my brother and I hadn’t even seen or thought of before. And they both, you know, they both showed up on set. Same with the actor who plays our antagonist, Marianne Jean-Baptiste. You know, all three of them were just powerhouses, and they’re feeding off of each other. And they were, you know, constantly challenging and pushing, you know, our limits as directors to make, you know, this film is as good as it could possibly be.

So, you know, for us, you know, they were a dream and we were really lucky to have them all.Um, you mentioned Aaron. How do you prepare for the look? To look like a bare knuckle cage fighter. He’s in shape. Well, he arrived in Mississippi about a month and a half before he needed to be there. On his own dime, he came down and he started. He started training, um, doing jujitsu. And he actually has a bit of a fighting background, but he started training really intensely. He was on a very specific diet. Um, you know, he would have ran 4 to 6 miles before he’d even started his two hour training sessions with our stunt department. Um. And, uh, and yeah, so he took the physical transformation really seriously.

And it continued throughout the shoot. I mean, when he was on set, when we yelled cut, he wouldn’t go and rest and sit in his chair. He was constantly moving. He was constantly I mean, he’d take the sandbags from the grip department and he’d be doing, you know, he’d be doing bicep curls or he’d put the, the, the, you know, the, the weights on his shoulders so that you felt more weighed down, you know, psychologically and also just feeling the weight of, you know, this, the 30 years of trauma that was inflicted on him, you know, in the, in the fighting cage.

And yeah, he was just so incredibly dedicated. And it’s so it’s so rare to see someone sacrifice their comfort when they have that out. Like, no one would have said a word if he had come and he’d given half of the effort that he gave. And when he was not, you know, on camera, he relaxed and took it easy. But he just kept pushing himself and it comes across in the film. It was great.


So what’s next for you guys?

Graham Phillips, & Parker Phillips:

Um, we’re developing two. Two projects with Michael. You know, the writer of Rumble Through the Dark one. One is based off of his Southern Gothic novel Blackwood, which he’s adapted for the screen, and we’re casting right now. And the other is an original screenplay that we developed with him called Do Not Go Gentle, and it’s more of an existential action thriller about an assassin who has a mission he can’t complete. Um, and yeah, so those are the two. The two plates are spinning right now, and the Assassin film takes place in Puerto Rico, so we’re excited to have a chance to brush up on our Spanish, which we haven’t been working on since eighth grade. It’s true.


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