Interview: Jake Goldberger, director of Don McKay

Writer/director Jake Goldberger got an impressive cast for his first feature film, the comedy-tinged noirish thriller Don McKay (Image Entertainment; DVD $27.97, Blu-ray $35.98; released Jun 29, 2010), including Thomas Haden Church (Sideways), Elisabeth Shue (Piranha) and Melissa Leo (The Fighter). The film follows a school janitor (Church) who returns to his hometown and gets involved with his former high school sweetheart (Shue), who has informed him that she’s dying. Needless to say, all is not as it appears, and though there’s definitely some dying going around, it concerns more than just the lovely but “ill” Ms. Shue. Disc Dish spoke to Goldberger about Don McKay’s cast and some of the work he did for the DVD release.

DD: For a first-time feature director, you’ve wrangled together one helluva cast — Thomas Haden Church, Elisabeth Shue, Melissa Leo, Pruitt Taylor Vince and more.

Goldberger: Absolutely. And, honestly, it was a real trip directing people I’ve loved since I was a kid.

DD: Did you have any of these specific actors in mind when you wrote the film?

Goldberger: In the case of Keith David and M. Emmet Walsh, I wrote the roles specifically for them. And I was lucky enough to get them! I’m a big fan of M. Emmet Walsh in the Dustin Hoffman movie Straight Time.

DD: The Ulu Grossbard movie…

Goldberger: Yes, and in Blood Simple by the Coen Brothers.

DD: James Rebhorn also pops up in a neat little role.

Goldberger: Yeah! James Rebhorn was actually a late addition. We sent him the script, he agreed to do it later that same day And he came that night and did his scenes the next day.

DD: Tell us a bit about the DVD, which contains a director’s commentary and a few deleted scenes.

Goldberger: There was no DVD deal in place when we made the deal for the movie. And the commentary wasn’t something that I wanted to do. [Producer] Jim Young asked me to do it. I didn’t think much about it. I went it early in the morning and just did it as honestly as I cold. I just wanted to do it and be as honest as I could without getting carried away. I think you can be honest in a commentary without necessarily throwing someone under a truck.

DD: And how about the deleted scenes?

Goldberger: I liked the performances in sequences we deleted, and I wanted the actors to be seen in those scenes. Deleted scenes are usually the result of a pacing issue, so I like to give viewers an opportunity to see as many good performances as they can.

About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.