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Tuesday, December 26, 2023 | Exclusive, Interviews


Revenge thrillers run the gamut from the well-made and thought-provoking (The Virgin Spring, Unforgiven), to grindhouse sleaze (I Spit On Your Grave, Thriller: A Cruel Picture) and all the way up to big budget blockbusters (Kill Bill). Because of the inherent dramatic nature of a topic like revenge, films in this genre can sometimes depend too heavily on slick, action-packed scenes to carry the plot. So it is especially noteworthy when a film like WALDEN comes along that asks hard questions about its subject matter and exhibits the moral dilemmas for those at the centre of the story.

Walden Dean (Emile Hirsch) is a stenographer who records the worst and most violent criminal cases. But as he continually watches the innocent suffer and the guilty walk free, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to reconcile this reality with his own view of good and evil. Presiding over all these cases is Judge Boyle (David Keith), who is both Walden’s colleague and close friend.

WALDEN is refreshing in that it discusses the affect that perpetual immersion in details of violent crime has on those who work on the periphery of criminal cases, such as stenographers. Much like the equally astounding Promising Young Woman, WALDEN comments on the holes in the criminal justice system that sometimes appears to offer little in the way of justice for victims and their families.

RUE MORGUE recently spoke with actor David Keith to discuss the film and his role as Judge Boyle.

First of all, congratulations on WALDEN! When you initially read the script, was there anything about it that jumped out at you? Anything that made you think, Yes, I want to do this film”?

The production company in Atlanta that I work with had decided to do the script and basically asked me if I wanted to play a part in it. So I flew to LA and met with Mick Davis, the Writer Director and the first thing he said was, “I want you to play the judge.” So that was that. I did love the role, however.

In WALDEN, you play Judge Boyle. Can you tell me a bit about the character?

The key to Judge Boyle is the easy comfort that he feels as a powerful man in the small town. He is the man. He knows it, has been that for decades, and as I said, extremely comfortable with it.

What was it like working with Emile Hirsch?

Emile is awesome. Fantastic actor. Fun to be on the set with, extremely smart and has great ideas about scenes and dialogue, etc. As an actor, he is a chameleon. He would sit down in front of that stenograph and become Walden right before your eyes. Remarkable.

Youre also known for your work with the National Association to Protect Children, an organization that locates online predators and cracks down on child exploitation. At its core, WALDEN is a film about justice and the miscarriage of justice. Did your personal interest in these types of issues play a part in your decision to take on the role of Judge Boyle?

It certainly enhanced the meatiness of the story and the role. I consider adults who hurt children for their own satisfaction to be the highest personification of evil in the world. And I am all about justice.

Order vs. disorder and the idea of good co-mingling with evil are also central themes in WALDEN. In light of the times we live in, why do you think now is an important time for a film like this to come out?

Well, I would never advocate vigilante-type justice, but revenge does have its appeal. But I believe it needs to be kept to the courts, and the movies, of course.

In addition to your acting career, youve also directed films such as The Curse and Waterville. Do you have any plans to direct again in the future?

Not to direct. On our latest film, Degenerate, a poker movie about degenerate gamblers, I was the creative EP as well as playing the villain. That gives me a bit of a say so and what goes on the screen, but leaves room for young directors who are much better at it than I am.

Whats next for you? Do you have any upcoming projects that we should be on the lookout for? 

Assuming Degenerate comes out in 2024 that would be the next thing to look for.

Before we sign off, I would like to congratulate you again on an incredible film! Thank you so much for your time, Mr. Keith.

Thank you very much. My pleasure.

WALDEN is available now On-Demand and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.


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