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Interview with Mud's Ray McKinnon at the ATLFF Red Carpet Opening Night


On Friday March 15, the 2013 Atlanta Film Festival opened with a screening of Matthew McConaughey latest film, "Mud" at the Plaza Theatre. The film is about two teenage boys, Ellis(Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), who befriend a mysterious stranger, Mud (McConaughey) that they meet on an island in the Mississippi River.The two boys help Mud on his quest to reunite with his one true love, Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). The strong supporting cast includes Michael Shannon as Galen Neckbone's uncle, Sam Shepard as Tom and Sarah Paulson, along with Ray McKinnon as Ellis's parents.

It was my pleasure to interview on the red carpet Ray McKinnon, who plays Senior, Ellis's dad prior to the sold out screening of "Mud." Mr. McKInnon is also bringing his Sundance Channel series, "Rectify," to be shown at the Atlanta Film Festival.

You've got a lot going on at the Atlanta Film Festival. And you have done quite a bit of film work the past few years in Georgia; so how does it feel to be back in Georgia, back where you came from?

Ray McKinnon
Actor Ray McKinnon

McKinnon: Man, you know, especially getting older and seeing how fortunate I am to be getting to do what I do, I appreciate things more. I live a little more in gratitude and a little less in fear. Being here in Georgia for some reason these projects that I have brought to the Atlanta Film Festival are projects that I care so much about. Being here at the festival, I just plan on enjoying it and savoring it.

How exciting is it to have "Mud" be the opening film of the festival?McKinnon: Jeff Nicolas, the writer and director of the film, who I met when he was trying to get his first film made, is a wonderful storyteller and this is a wonderful movie. It's a film that deserves to be out there for people to see and have attention drawn to it. I think this is a perfect setting for that to happen. I am glad to be a spokesman for Jeff and his vision.

Tell us a little about your character in the film.

McKinnon: Well, Senior is an anachronism he is kind of from another time. Times have changed and he's not dealing with it very well. What's beautiful about the story is that his son, Ellis, who is changing with the times, helps bring Senior along. He's a sad character in some ways, but he changes and I see a good life for him and his son in the future.

What was it like working with Jeff Nichols?

McKinnon: I know Jeff as a friend and he wrote this character for me. There was a lot of pressure because I didn't want to disappoint him. He is a very assured director who knows what he wants. We had a good time together making this film. He made me a better actor making this film and I can't complain about that.

Opening Night ATLFF Mud
Atlanta Film Festival Opening Night "Mud" Marquee

This movie has a very Mark Twain feel to it, was that Jeff's intention?

McKinnon: Jeff says that he stole this idea from Mark Twain in a very broad way. But it's a modern film, a story about the 21st century South and the changes that are going on along the Mississippi River, and the people who can and can't change with it. So, this film does have universal and ageless themes running through it, but it's also a 21st century story about the South.

Thank you very much Ray and much success to the film.

McKinnon:  Thank you.

The Atlanta Film Festival will continue through Sunday, March, 24th.

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