The action film Sleepless, starring Jamie Foxx as an undercover homicide detective seeking revenge on his son’s kidnappers is available on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand on April 18, with deleted scenes and a Making Of featurette that delves even deeper into the intense, fast-paced story. In the film, a heist goes wrong and a crew of homicidal gangsters, led by the unhinged and dangerous Novak (Scoot McNairy), kidnaps the teenage son of undercover police officer Vincent Downs (Foxx), who is trying to get his son back while evading an internal affairs investigation into a web of corrupt cops.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actor Scoot McNairy (who’s amassing a wide array of varied and interesting to watch characters in his career) talked about the appeal of Sleepless, how much he enjoyed working with director Baran bo Odar, what inspired this bad-ass bad guy, and what stands out for him the most, when it comes to making the film. He also talked about how grateful he is to AMC for the opportunity to wrap up the story and characters in a final season of Halt and Catch Fire, the incredible experience of working with Noah Hawley for Season 3 of Fargo, the appeal of the Netflix Western mini-series Godless, and doing the Jody Hill comedy The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter.
SCOOT McNAIRY: It was a challenge and something I hadn’t done before, to play someone this sick. That was part of the draw to it. Also, I had seen (director) Baran bo Odar’s previous film, the German movie Who Am I, and I thought he did a really good job with it and that he’s a really interesting filmmaker. That was part of the draw to it, as well.
What did you enjoy about working and collaborating with this director, Baran bo Odar?
McNAIRY: When you talk to him, he’s like a kid in a candy store. He cracks a lot of jokes, and we have a lot of the same humor, so we really got along, in that regard. He’s also just really talented. I really liked his pacing and his tone, and how he moved the camera around and the speed of it. He likes the pacing to be really fast. All of those aspects of his filmmaking are interesting to me, and I felt like I hadn’t really done a film like that yet.
One of the things I really liked about this film is that it moves fast and it gets right to the point without any fat, at 90 minutes. Was that evident in the script, or did that come out of the editing?
McNAIRY: For sure, it was the way that [Baran bo Odar] intended to make the film. It wasn’t necessarily that apparent in the script. However, when we were shooting it, you could tell based on how many cameras we were using and how many pieces of each shot he needed, that the thing was going to be cut together with a whole bunch of pieces, which usually means the film is going to be pretty choppy. It’s definitely a summer action popcorn flick. It’s a film for entertainment.
This guy is unquestionably a bad guy and a bad-ass. Did you have to get into a specific headspace for that, and did you take inspiration from anyone, in figuring out who this guy was?
McNAIRY: When I was trying to come up with who the guy was, I talked to [Baran bo Odar] a lot about messing with the character on the page and the character that I wanted to play. Oddly and weirdly enough, I went to this car auction in Carmel one year, and there was this farmer next to me with a huge beard, drinking a bloody Mary, and he bid $800,000 on this ‘60s car. My point is that I based it off of that guy, and what if that guy was your dad. I thought about what it would be like to be his son, and then I went from there. And from talking about it so much, we incorporated the father character into the film.
Carrying such a high-powered gun must also inform the character and how you want to carry yourself while using it. Did you have to prepare to make sure you looked comfortable holding and using that?
McNAIRY: Sure. I grew up in Texas, so I was around a lot of guns, growing up as a kid, but absolutely, there are always people on set that are specialized in those fields, that help you out. And I’m always willing to listen to anyone who’s there, offering any sort of advice.
When you think back to the production for this film and your time playing this character, are the moments that stand out the most for you, whether it was stuff that happened on set or things that happened when you weren’t filming?
McNAIRY: Yeah, Sala [Baker], the guy standing next to me during the whole movie was making me drink juice. He’s a big juicer, with natural juices. We were always cutting up about juicing. He would say, “No food, just juice.” So, I cut up a lot with him. We had a lot of good times, and a lot of good times outside of work.
You’ve had such an interesting and varied career. Is there anything specific that you look for, when it comes to possible projects or characters, or do you just feel very lucky?