Finding the right neo-Nazis can be challenging
Many people will buy tickets for Green Room for one reason: to see Professor X break bad. Patrick Stewart may have a cuddly public persona thanks to his social media best-friendship with Ian McKellen, but there aren't any meme-worthy moments in his villainous turn as Darcy Banker, the vicious leader of a brutally efficient skinhead gang. It's a subtle, controlled performance that feels tailor-made for his iconic bald head. But it almost didn't happen.
Unlike the other stars, Stewart was a last-minute addition to the cast. "That came up 10 days from production," says Saulnier. "We were already breaking sets. It wasn't just a last-minute save -- the whole film got classed up when he came on board."
Rounding out the film's gang of heavies, Saulnier also cast Macon Blair, his old friend and the star of Blue Ruin, as a put-upon, in-over-his-head skinhead. It's a carefully modulated performance that gets at the movie's tricky tonal goal: granting even the sickest, most deranged characters a sliver of empathy. While the movie's portrayal of neo-Nazis is hardly warm and cuddly, Saulnier forces the audience to spend time with them and consider them not as monsters, but as humans.