Over the past few years, few actors have had such a meteoric rise as Riley Keough. Most audiences got their first glimpse of her in Mad Max: Fury Road, and her career has barreled at a high rate of speed ever since with roles in the series The Girlfriend Experience, It Comes at Night, and now working with Steven Soderbergh on his hillbilly heist flick Logan Lucky. I recently got to talk to the actress about Logan Lucky and her burgeoning career in front of the camera.
Much in the same vein as Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels, Logan Lucky is heist film that is extremely pleasurable because it’s fun to hang out with the characters on the screen. That hanging out attitude wasn’t just on the screen, it was also on the set of the film. “Definitely. It was really fun,” Keough said with big smile. “Shooting something like that it’s hard not to have fun.”
For most film lovers, Logan Lucky is a big deal because it represents the end of Steven Soderbergh’s short-lived retirement. However, for Riley Keough, Soderbergh hasn’t really been retired. “I’ve been working with – I did Magic Mike and then my show The Girlfriend Experience after that, so I’ve been working. A lot of people have been saying he came out of retirement but I’ve been working kind of sort of with him for the past couple years in a sense. It didn’t feel like any pressure. I kind of forgot about the whole retirement thing,” she said of the acclaimed director.
Don’t ask Riley Keough to pick favorites among her Logan Lucky co-stars. “That’s so hard. They’re all so different and such wild characters. They all just really made me laugh so much,” the actress said. “When I was doing work with Daniel [Craig] and Adam [Driver], their dynamic was so funny on and off screen. In between takes they were talking so much shit that was really fun. I worked with Channing [Tatum] before, so that was really fun. He’s such a good guy, good energy and hilarious.”
On Mad Max: Fury Road, Keough didn’t get the opportunity to get behind the wheel. In Logan Lucky, her character, Mellie, is crucial to heist, working as the getaway driver who burns down the Southern highways at blistering speed. ‘’That’s what I loved about it, is that that was her role,” Keough said enthusiastically. “Not a lot of girls I don’t think are amazing drivers. I’m sure there are a lot of girls that are amazing drivers, but that’s not what you – you wouldn’t be, ‘Oh, the girl should be the getaway driver.’”
However, Keough didn’t get to do the more intense driving in the film. “I did a little bit. They had a stunt driver as well. I did little basic things. I don’t think they wanted to risk anyone’s life, so they didn’t have me doing any of the crazy stuff,” she said with a laugh.
Logan Lucky doesn’t look at its Southern characters with comedic disdain. It’s a film that never peddles in stereotypes and that’s comforting to Riley Keough, whose family has deep roots in the South. “My family is all Southern and they’re so funny. They’re big personalities down there. They’re characters. You have to differentiate between being authentic because people are like that. I don’t think it’s stereotyping at all. I think it’s just like a comedy, heist-action. There’s a lot of genres with Southern people,” she said.
The ending for the film is a bit open-ended, possibly leaving open the opportunity for a sequel. “They really leave it hanging. I hope so. I’d be down,” Keough said of the possibility of a sequel. “I don’t know. I haven’t heard anything, but I’m sure everyone would be down to do another one.”
Riley Keough’s slate is full of upcoming projects with fascinating, disparate filmmakers. “I’m shooting an HBO film in New York right now that’s being directed by Barry Levinson. It’s the Joe Paterno story which has been interesting. I’ve got some more things coming up,” she told me. ”I have a film called Hold the Dark that is coming out, I don’t know when. It’s on Netflix. Then I have a film called Under the Silver Lake, which is also coming out. That’s A24. I don’t know when, maybe this year or next year. And then there’s a Lars Von Trier film that I wouldn’t imagine be coming out since we just wrapped it.”
When asked which filmmakers would be on her wishlist to work with, Keough deferred to the filmmakers that she’s recently worked with. “That’s really hard. It’s like picking my favorite movie. There’s so many experiences it’s hard to pick one. I love young sort of newer filmmakers, like Trey Shultz, Jeremy Saulnier, and all that stuff. I also love Lars Von Trier and Steven. I’ve had equally good experiences,” she said of her collaborators.
Based on his reputation, I had to ask Keough if working with Lars Von Trier was a difficult experience. “Maybe a little, I don’t know. It wasn’t so bad,” she said with a chuckle. “No, he was amazing.”
I felt compelled to ask Riley Keough about her famous grandfather, the late, great Elvis Aaron Presley and whether or not his legacy as an American icon has had any impact on her work. “I don’t know. It’s all I’ve ever known,” she frankly said. “People want me to intellectualize it, but it’s really hard for me because I don’t know any different. I’m definitely aware of it and always have been and feel really grateful for the things that its sort of helped me out with my life. I don’t think about it very much, to be honest.”
“I don’t feel any kind of pressure, to be honest. Even if it’s there, I don’t feel it,” she elaborated. “I’m just kind of doing this because I love it and whatever happens with it happens. I think because I’m in film there’s a little bit less pressure like I could imagine if I did music, maybe then I’d feel a little more pressure to be something. I really don’t feel that way.”