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The Bikeriders Director Jeff Nichols On Casting Austin Butler

The Bikeriders director, Jeff Nichols, explains that he didn't have to wait to see the final cut of Elvis to know he wanted to bring in Austin Butler for a meeting. A trailer was enough.

Article Summary

  • The Bikeriders' release date remains uncertain due to SAG-AFTRA strike.
  • Director Jeff Nichols met Austin Butler after seeing him in the Elvis trailer.
  • Nichols describes The Bikeriders as a complex love triangle with unique dynamics.
  • Film reviews for The Bikeriders are trending positive despite release delays.

The Bikeriders is in a weird spot right now because the film has premiered and screened for multiple critics, but it also got pulled from the release schedule fairly recently due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. The film was supposed to come out next month, just in time for the awards season, but now it's unclear whether or not it will make that deadline. You only need to be in theaters for a week in Los Angeles and New York City before the end of the year to qualify, so a limited release leading into a wide release in early 2024 is possible. It's just weird that the film is getting active promo in places in Total Film and doesn't have a release date. Director Jeff Nichols recently told Total Film about the casting process for Austin Butler; it turns out Nichols didn't have to wait to see the final film to decide that Butler was worth bringing in for a meeting; the trailer for Elvis was enough.

"[Casting] started with Austin. It was before Elvis came out. I'd seen the trailer, and there were just enough shots in that to say, 'Oh, that guy has done some serious work here,'" Nichols recalls. "The script had been floating around, and it's a compelling part. So, we had some incoming calls from people that were interested. And I knew that I wanted to meet with this young man. And then I met him."

The Bikeriders
Austin Butler as Benny in 20th Century Studios' THE BIKERIDERS. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2023 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Nichols went on to talk about the dynamics between the various characters in The Bikeriders and compared the push and pull between the three main characters, Benny (Butler), Kathy (Jodie Comer), and Johnny (Tom Hardy). Nichols said that what we will see on screen is one of the most common tropes of all: a love triangle of sorts with some of the gender roles swapped, and not everyone is here with romantic intentions.

"I liked this idea that you build this love triangle – not two men chasing after the same woman, but a man and a woman chasing after the same young man," Nichols adds. "But what if that young man is empty? What if, ultimately, that young man is not built to bear the weight of other people's ideas for him or their needs? So you spend an hour setting up and romanticising that strong, silent type [in Benny]. Then you pull on the thread just a little bit longer, and you see the fruit that that bears. And it's quite painful and quite trying."

The reviews for The Bikeriders have been trending on the positive side, and 20th Century Studios could really use a good film for the fall season that is about blue aliens designed to sweep the technical awards and not much else. We'll have to see if studios decide to start paying actors livable wages soon and end the strike so this film can jump back on the schedule in some capacity before the end of the year.

The Bikeriders: Cast List, Summary, Release Date

From writer-director Jeff Nichols (Loving, Midnight Special, Mud), 20th Century Studios, and New Regency, The Bikeriders is a furious drama following the rise of a fictional 1960s Midwestern motorcycle club through the lives of its members, starring Jodie Comer (Killing Eve, The Last Duel), Austin Butler (Elvis) and Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant).

Inspired by Danny Lyon's iconic book of photography, The Bikeriders immerses you in the look, feel, and sounds of the bare-knuckled, grease-covered subculture of '60s motorcycle riders. Kathy (Comer), a strong-willed member of the Vandals who's married to a wild, reckless bikerider named Benny (Butler), recounts the Vandals' evolution over the course of a decade, beginning as a local club of outsiders united by good times, rumbling bikes, and respect for their strong, steady leader Johnny (Hardy). Over the years, Kathy tries her best to navigate her husband's untamed nature and his allegiance to Johnny, with whom she feels she must compete for Benny's attention. As life in the Vandals gets more dangerous, and the club threatens to become a more sinister gang, Kathy, Benny, and Johnny are forced to make choices about their loyalty to the club and to each other.

The cast, most of whom did their own riding on an array of period-correct bikes, also includes Michael Shannon (Bullet Train), Mike Faist (West Side Story), Boyd Holbrook (Logan), and Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead). Sarah Green, p.g.a., Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, p.g.a., and Arnon Milchan are the producers. Yariv Milchan, Michael Schaefer, Sam Hanson, David Kern, and Fred Berger are the executive producers. The Bikeriders currently doesn't have a release date.

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Kaitlyn BoothAbout Kaitlyn Booth

Kaitlyn is the Editor-in-Chief at Bleeding Cool. Film critic and pop culture writer since 2013. Ace. Leftist. Nerd. Feminist. Writer. Replicant Translator. Cinephillic Virtue Signaler. She/Her. UFCA/GALECA Member. 🍅 Approved. Follow her Threads, Instagram, and Twitter @katiesmovies.
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