Amongst all the major blockbuster movies and streaming shows debuting these days, Adverse carves a space for a more dramatic indie films that bring a different kind of thrilling excitement.
Directed by Brian A. Metcalf and starring Thomas Nicholas, alongside Hollywood legends Lou Diamond Phillips and Mickey Rourke, Adverse is a crime thriller that finished filming in Los Angeles over two years ago and released in theaters on February 12, 2021. A rollercoaster ride centered around a ride-share driver who loses his sister to the drug world, emotions are high and a revenge plot quickly brews as the movie’s central character tries to get revenge for losing an important member of his family.
The Illuminerdi had the incredible opportunity to interview Adverse‘s director, Brian Metcalf, as a part of the promotional tour. We’re happy to share our conversation with him below:
Adverse Director Shares His Perspective
Illuminerdi: From your history, you’ve worn a ton of different hats. What was the toughest job for you amongst all of those jobs, and what was the most fun?
Metcalf: Well, there are fun and difficult aspects to every part of it. Here’s the thing, when you’re going into this business, it’s not like I necessarily want to wear all those hats by choice, but you have to get your own project off the ground. When you’re starting out and you say “I want to be a director,” well, “What are you directing?” And the projects are not coming to you, so you have to write them yourself. That’s one thing for that.
And then, if you want to get it off the ground and produce it, then you have to raise financing for it, you have to get the cast together, you have to get the people together, you along with your producing partners and everything like that. And then, for the role that I play in Adverse as Dante, I actually tried to give that role up to three different actors, and nobody wanted that role! Nobody wanted to do it, so eventually, I said “Fine, I’ll do it myself.”
That’s the funny thing is that people were like “Oh, you wrote this role for yourself!” And I said “Not exactly!” But I took it upon myself to do it at some point.
Illuminerdi: Well you did a fantastic job with Adverse given the circumstances!
Metcalf: Thank you very much. I was running out of time, so I just said “I’ll do it myself” at that point. But I offered it up to some good cast, and nobody wanted the role!
Illuminerdi: Thomas Nicholas and you have worked together in the past, how did that relationship start and what keeps bringing you back to working together?
Metcalf: Thomas and I had met back on his first film that he directed called LA DJ, and he had me on board to help him out with some stuff, and we formed a friendship, and we started working together from there. The reason we keep working together is we have a great chemistry, and this is the thing: it’s not just him, Andrew Keegan I’ve worked with in the past, and I brought him back, things like that. T
hat’s one thing you do, if you start working with somebody, Kelly Arjen for example, who’s producing this, I worked with her previously on a pilot that we worked on, and she was great as well.
When you start working with somebody, you have a great chemistry and everything like that, you want to keep working together over and over again, and this you see all the time in film. You see that with Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, you constantly see the same repetitive people over and over again working together, and it’s just basically because they work well together. If you work together and have great chemistry to work on these films, why not keep doing it again and again and again?
Illuminerdi: Along with Nicholas, you had an incredible cast to work with in Adverse – like Lou Diamond Philips and Mickey Rourke. How much easier does it make your job to have actors of that caliber on set?
Metcalf Oh my goodness. Well first of all, you don’t have to worry about if they’ll do a good job or not. They come in and they’re very well prepared, they know their lines, they’ve done their research on their character. One thing that really impressed me, for example, with Mickey is he really understood the character super well.
He came in with a whole backstory idea for his character, he based the character off of his brother, who was actually dying of cancer and he had to witness that. That’s what this character does, he witnesses that, and he kept the same mannerisms that his brother went through, and says some of the same lines his brother said, it was almost an homage to his brother, it really was.
I was quite a touching performance that he gives. As you see, he’s not just a straight up bad guy or whatever. But the rest of the cast, Penelope Ann Miller and Lou Diamond Phillips, the knowledge and experience that they have, that they’re able to help you with, for everything new project, it’s a learning experience, and I learn something new. And I definitely learned the most with this film, more than I’ve learned in a long time, just with having such a great talented group of people to work with.
Illuminerdi: Were there any particular movies you used as inspiration when you were writing the plot to Adverse?
Metcalf: The initial idea came from a real life experience of having to deal with an ex-girlfriend who got hooked on drugs and everything like that because she hung out with the wrong group of people. So that was the basis, based off reality. Obviously, having seen so many movies out there, all of those movies influenced me a little bit. For example, Taxi Driver was one of those great films that I’ve watched a million times, and that obviously influenced me along with other movies along those lines.
They all influence how I’m going to do something, and again, I like to watch the best movies and steal from the best and learn what the best ones are out there. It’s this constant learning experience, trying to get the best thing you can. Even if you want to say “I don’t want to be like any movie that’s out there,” you can’t help but have those influences of those movies you’ve watched that have been ingrained in your head for so long. Whether it’s The Godfather, or Shawshank Redemption, or any of these great classic movies.
Illuminerdi: You shot Adverse like a kind of neo-noir, ’40s and 50’s thriller. What was the reasoning for bringing that specific genre, and why do you feel like now is the time to bring back that specific filmmaking style?
Metcalf: Well, neo-noir is something that I’ve always had a fascination with, noir films in general. You have all the trademarks of neo-noir, whether it’s the femme fatale that gets our lead actor into trouble, which I definitely have in this, or the low-key lighting and the use of light shadow, or the unusual camera placement that you have when you’re doing tilted angle or Dutch angle, or sound effects that help with mood and so forth. Like in the warehouse scene when he’s going through that and the music takes over.
You have the scene where they’re driving and you’re seeing the reflection of the glass on the window of the car, you’re seeing the lighting and other things, these are all trademarks of noir and neo-noir that definitely have that sort of thing. I’ve always wanted to do it, but I’ve wanted to have the right project to do it. Living Among Us would not be a project that you ever use neo-noir. That one, I was going for more of a Truffaut style. But for this one in particular, I felt that neo-noir was definitely important for this type of film. It just worked stylistically.
Illuminerdi: Were there any favorite moments behind the scenes that you had working on Adverse?
Metcalf: There were multiple ones. One in particular was working with my producing partners Tom and Kelly on this, the way that we got to problem-solve a lot of issues together, we’d put our heads together and be like “Ok, we have this issue, this issue, this issue, let’s resolve it,” and how we worked together as producers, I thought that was a fantastic way of working together. Working behind the scenes with Mickey Rourke on his character, and discussing what his character and his brother went through helped shape his character more, the mannerisms that he gave it.
The thing is this, Mickey is underrated in a lot of ways, but the amount of time that he put into his character behind the scenes was just incredible, and he really gave it his all for this role. He really worked super hard for this movie, and I was very impressed with that. There are so many behind the scenes parts. When we were shooting the warehouse scene, for example, walking around there, we were actually dealing with a hornet’s nest. So we had to avoid the hornets all around, it was just mess.
Illuminerdi: I’m just imagining Adverse‘s blooper reel, from that experience dealing with all those hornets.
Metcalf: Oh, we were running from them and everything like that. I believe there is one, if you take a look toward the end of that, you’ll be able to see one of the hornets in the room he goes into. It was not fun dealing with the hornets, that’s for sure.
Adverse is now in theaters and available to stream as of March 9, 2021.