Haley Lu Richardson Talks Montana Story

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A pair of siblings reluctantly move back to their childhood ranch in Montana as their father is hooked up to machines and in his final moments of life. What at first appears to be a dysfunctional family is later revealed to be much more. It’s a heartfelt story with emotionally powerful performances by its leads, Haley Lu Richardson who plays Erin, and Owen Teague who plays her brother, Cal.

Montana Story is the latest from directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel, who wrote the story alongside Mike Spreter. Rounding out the cast is Gilbert Owuor, who can be seen in True Blood or The Young and the Restless. Richardson is well-known for Five Feet Apart with Cole Sprouse, and Teague can be recognized from It Chapter Two.

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Bleecker Street will release Montana Story in theaters on May 13, 2022. Anticipating its release, Richardson talked with Movieweb about the preparation for the emotional depth of the story and working with McGehee and Siegel.

Emotional Depth in Montana Story

“I think that, honestly, the preparation was more so just strengthening that bond between me and Owen, which didn’t need too much strengthening because we felt really connected like brother and sister almost immediately. And once we got to do those scenes towards the end where everything bubbles to the surface — or spews out from the surface, we felt such a strong safety in acting with each other. I felt allowed to be vulnerable with him and to feel anything. I knew he had my back, and I think he knew that I had his. So, I think just having the trust with each other, and then going from there was the most important.”


Which is certainly noticeable throughout the film. The siblings, although facing difficult times and experiencing their own disagreements, appear to be the only resemblance of a true family one another has, and that lack thereof is a large motivator for Richardson’s character.

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“What happened to her when she was 17, then running away from home has influenced her motives almost in her entire life. It’s really something that changed her, and it forced her to be on her own. I think there’s a lot of strength that comes in that, but there’s also a lot of hurt and vulnerability that she’s suppressing and just real sadness below her strength and resilience. When she comes back, it’s interesting… I think she’s coming back to say goodbye to him and hopefully, that will lead to some help in her healing in some way, or in moving forward.” Explained Richardson, then elaborating on Erin’s relationship with Cal. “There’s this subconscious need and drive to find that love again with her brother, and she doesn’t leave until that’s happened, that they’re going to have each other moving forward… she goes after one thing, but I think subconsciously she knows that’s the thing that really matters to her.”


Working with Scott McGehee and David Siegel

McGehee and Siegel stated that they came up with the idea for Montana Story in the midst of having a different film they were working on delayed due to the pandemic. It forced them to make something of a smaller scale; they were familiar with stories set in the West and revisionist Westerns. Enter Spreter who suggested Montana as a location, and they got to work.

In McGehee’s director statement, he says, “We’d been talking to Haley Lu Richardson about playing a role in the movie we were developing, The Friend. And we were really enjoying the creative collaboration we’d been having with her. So she was definitely in our head, and we were really thrilled when she agreed to play this role in Montana Story. She’s such a remarkable, expressive presence.”


Richardson mentioned this in our interview as well, commenting, “I had actually been talking with them about another movie that they wrote for a totally different character… it’s pretty rare to find an instinctual type of immediate collaboration with someone, and I felt like the three of us had that. They were so open, and I felt like I was allowed to throw things around and be a part of it with them… when you’re invited to be a part of the collaboration, it’s a really special thing, and it really helps with the performance… I had a great relationship with them, and I knew that they were really thoughtful, beautiful writers.”

Bleecker Street acquired the US rights to Montana Story after its 2021 premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in the Platform Prize section, which is known to award films of “high artistic merit that also demonstrate a strong directorial vision.”



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