Director John Lee Hancock‘s new Netflix film The Highwaymen attempts to show the hunt for, and killing of, bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in a more realistic fashion than previous depictions.
The strive for authenticity led Hancock to film the brutal death scene of the notorious criminals at the actual spot where they were ambushed and shot by a group of lawmen led by Texas Rangers Frank Hamer and Maney Gault, who are played in the movie by Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson.
“The very first location scout, we flew to Shreveport, because we wanted to see the actual spot where it occurred, so we could pick a location that looked enough like it did back in 1934,” says Hancock. “We went up there and not much has changed. It’s still a very rural road. The grass was closer to the road in 1934, and there were no yellow stripes in 1934, but other than that, not much had changed. Casey Silver, our producer, said, ‘Why don’t we shoot there?’ And so, we started working towards that. The fact that we shot the ambush at the exact spot where the actual ambush occurred was really creepy in all the best ways. It became kind of hallowed ground, because it’s not a victorious moment. There’s no joyous celebration when they gun down Bonnie and Clyde. Once they start firing they’re going to keep firing until their guns are empty. And so, there’s no cheering moment or anything like that. I think being at that place kind of added a somber attitude in a way to everything about it.”
Costner recalls shooting the scene as a “haunting” experience.
“It really affected me,” says the actor. “Every time I did the scene, and I’d see that car coming I’d go, There was a day in 1934 when those two outlaws came around that bend. Forty seconds and they were gone. That haunted me a little bit, thinking about that.”
“It was really kind of startling,” says Harrelson. It was like, Man, what we’re about to do, actually happened. It put you in the mindset of what these guys were thinking. I remember, as that car was coming, when we were back behind that hedge, the feeling was, Oh my god, here they come! It just felt so real.”
The Highwaymen is now available to watch on Netflix. See the trailer for the film above.
- The Highwaymen star Kevin Costner says Bonnie and Clyde were ‘animals’
- The Highwaymen director originally hoped to cast Paul Newman and Robert Redford in lead roles
The Highwaymen (2019 movie)