Maureen Lee Lenker
February 08, 2018 AT 07:27 PM EST

Martin McDonagh is addressing the backlash surrounding his awards darling picture Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, in a new interview with EW.

In the exclusive interview, the actor responded to the recent controversy surrounding the film in the wake of its Golden Globe and SAG victories. “It mostly comes from the idea of Sam Rockwell’s character, who’s a racist, bigoted a—hole, that his character is seemingly being redeemed, maybe,” he says. “I don’t think his character is redeemed at all – he starts off as a racist jerk. He’s the same pretty much at the end, but, by the end, he’s seen that he has to change. There is room for it, and he has, to a degree, seen the error of his ways, but in no way is he supposed to become some sort of redeemed hero of the piece.”

Still, McDonagh admits that, while he writes films and plays deliberately designed to provoke, he’s not immune to the negative responses. “I kind of get hurt and wonder, why doesn’t everyone love it?” he confesses. “But I don’t like films that everyone loves. And we’re not making films for 6-year-olds, we’re not making The Avengers. We’re trying to do something that’s a bit little more difficult and more thoughtful.”

“It’s supposed to be a deliberately messy and difficult film. Because it’s a messy and difficult world,” McDonagh concludes. “You have to kind of hold up a mirror to that a little bit and say we don’t have any kind of solution. But I think there’s a lot of hope and humanity in the film and if you look at all those issues with those things in your heart, we might move on to a more interesting place.”

So what, then, would McDonagh say to the film’s detractors if he was erecting three billboards of his own? “I’d say something like, our hearts are totally in the right place,” he says, “something like that.”

Watch the video above for more.

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