(l-r) Chris Marquette as Buddy and Anton Yelchin as Jacob Heckum in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Broken Horses. (Reliance Entertainment/Vinod Chopra Films)
Described by James Cameron as an “artistic triumph” Broken Horses managed to avoid the standard Hollywood film making path, for better or worse, and in doing so, gave its actors the opportunity to explore not only their characters, but themselves.
Directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the film centers around two brothers Jacob Heckum (Anton Yelchin) and Buddy (Christopher Marquette) who are attempting to reconcile after the murder of their father leaves them descending into two completely different roads. When Jacob, a young music prodigy returns to his hometown, he discovers that Buddy now works for a gang and has been manipulated into a killer.
“It’s a story of redemption and pure guilt. It’s about the shame that comes from separating from your family and growing into the person you’d like to become,” says actor Chris Marquette.
“Chopra says a great thing about the film which is that the title itself stems from his belief that as children, we come into the world very wild and enthusiastic and very honest, the most honest version of ourselves, and we are pained in some degree by the outside world and our own minds and we become like a broken horse,” Marquette adds.
“Part of this film is these characters finding their own freedom once again,” he also mentions.
Yelchin was cast as Jacob and didn’t feel great about the chemistry with the actors he was reading with, so instead, he recommended Marquette as the two had previously worked together (Alpha Dog, and Showtime TV series “Huff”).
Having worked in the industry since the age of 8, landing his first acting debut in the film Sweet Nothing, Marquette has a long list of film credits to his name including Just Friends and The Girl Next Door. He is also fully aware of how Hollywood tends to work.
“Quite honestly, this is a movie that in this part, and this budget, and this stage, they [producers] were not interested in seeing me,” he says. “I don’t think any of the producers knew who I was and they weren’t that enthusiastic about me reading.”
“I pursued it because I read the script and it was a beautiful story,” Marquette adds. “For any actor, it gives them the ability to do what they love to do. I pushed for an audition and crossed my fingers that someone would respond.”
Marquette was picked to play Buddy, the emotionally raw and tormented child-like brother.
Citing the role as exhausting and fun, Marquette states that working with Yelchin was a big catalyst for him and that he remains thankful to his friend for thinking of him.
“He could’ve thought of a million people who would mean more to producers and had a bigger body of success and credit,” Marquette says. “For me, it was obvious, it’s an amazing story and amazing role and i don’t get the chance to audition or get a shot at something like this too often.”
The chemistry between any cast is important to any film, in the case of Broken Horses, it was one of the major driving forces.
There was no storyboard before the film was shot, Chopra allowed the actors to show up to the set and work out what they wanted to and allowed them to make things as intimate as they wanted.
“These characters are not completely on the page, the heart is on the page, there wasn’t anyone who read the script and didn’t walk away moved,” Marquette says.
To Marquette, the film achieves what some of the greatest films ever have and symbolizes what films can mean to people.
“It’s not confined at all to the way films are made now a days. This is a film that was made along the lines of the ways films were made in the 50s, 60s, and 70s,” he says.
“If you’re a fan of cinema, I think you’ll find a deep appreciation of this movie.”
Broken Horses is now playing at the Arclight Hollywood, Cinemark 18, Town Center 5 in Encino, and Edwards Westpark 8 in Orange county.