Video Interview: 'Warrior' Director Gavin O'Connor Talks Blood, Sweat, & Redemption

Gavin O'Connor (Miracle, Pride and Glory) is not necessarily a director that is easily put in a box. His films may be violent, dark, gritty, sweet, evocative, triumphant, funny, or, as in the case of his current offering Warrior, some combination of all of the above.

A family drama set against a mixed martial arts grand prix tournament, Warrior stars Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton as estranged (and in some ways diametrically opposed) brothers who are set on an inevitable path toward a violent, yet ultimately healing, reckoning with their past. Or, as O'Connor calls it, "an intervention in a cage."

(Watch our interview with Hardy and Edgerton HERE)

We had the chance to interview the director at the Los Angeles press event for Warrior to talk about crafting a film that offers an audience the unique experience of getting to know, and root for, two protagonists who are both equally admirable and flawed. Each one a warrior in their own right, the brothers challenge us to confront our own ideas about what it really means to win when indeed, as O' Connor says, for one of these characters "to win, would ultimately be to lose."

Though he made it clear that he did not care for the term "sports movie" before cameras were rolling (which we had a friendly debate about) -- O'Connor did agree that he has crafted a film which utilizes the tropes of a sports movie to explore complex themes like redemption, violence, addiction, and ultimately heroism itself.

Take a look at the synopsis for the film and our interview with O'Connor below.


Two brothers face the fight of a lifetime - and the wreckage of their broken family - within the brutal, high-stakes world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighting in Lionsgate’s action/drama, WARRIOR. An ex-Marine haunted by a tragic past, Tommy Riordan (Hardy) returns to his hometown of Pittsburgh and enlists his father (Nick Nolte​), a recovered alcoholic and his former coach, to train him for an MMA tournament awarding the biggest purse in the history of the sport. As Tommy blazes a violent path towards the title prize, his brother, Brendan (Edgerton), a former MMA fighter unable to make ends meet as a public school teacher, returns to the amateur ring to provide for his family. Even though years have passed, recriminations and past betrayals keep Brendan bitterly estranged from both Tommy and his father. But when Brendan’s unlikely rise as an underdog sets him on a collision course with Tommy, the two brothers must finally confront the forces that tore them apart, all the while waging the most intense, winner-takes-all battle of their lives.

Interview with Warrior director Gavin O'Connor:


Gavin O’Connor directs a cast that includes Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, and Jennifer Morrison.

Warrior opens in theaters this Friday September 9th.

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