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'American Honey' director Andrea Arnold scouted talent in unusual places

Director Andrea Arnold, right, celebrates with actress Sasha Lane after being awarded the Jury Prize for
Director Andrea Arnold, right, celebrates with actress Sasha Lane after being awarded the Jury Prize for "American Honey" at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Director Andrea Arnold, right, celebrates with actress Sasha Lane after being awarded the Jury Prize for
Sasha Lane and Shia LaBeouf in Andrea Arnold's "American Honey."
Photo courtesy of A24

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British director Andrea Arnold wanted to use "real faces" in her film, "American Honey," so she scouted for talent at beaches, county fairs, and even Walmart parking lots across the country.

She discovered Sasha Lane on a Florida beach during spring break, where Arnold says "she definitely stood out." Lane had never acted professionally before being cast in the lead role of "American Honey," which won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

The film follows a teenager named Star who's taken in by group of young people that travel through Middle America selling magazines door to door. They're called a "magazine crew," or "mag crew" for short.

The Frame's John Horn sat down with Arnold and the film’s star, Sasha Lane. 


To hear the full conversation, click the play button at the top of the page.

Interview Highlights

On the road trip that helped inspire the film: 

ARNOLD: I finished another film. Some of my last kind of responsibilities with it were at the Sundance Film Festival. I was leaving there and [that film] had been a really tough experience. It was in Utah and it had been really snowy and I’d been in lots of cinemas and then they were driving me to the airport on the Monday morning and the sun came out. And there were these amazing mountains. I was looking at the mountains and I felt really emotional and I thought, How is it that I’ve come all the way from London for two days and I haven’t actually seen those mountains properly? So I didn’t get on the plane. I got a car… I think that was the beginning of me starting to explore my relationship with America and think about my emotional connection to the material I wanted to explore.

The "mag crew" in Andrea Arnold's "American Honey." (McCaul Lombardi, Riley Keough, Verronikah Ezell, Shia LaBeouf, Crystal B. Ice, Shawna Rae Moseley, Kenneth Kory Tucker, Raymond Coalson)
Photo by Holly Horner, courtesy of A24

How Sasha Lane was discovered and cast:

LANE: I was on the beach in Florida for spring break, in Panama City … with a couple of my friends. I remember walking and then all of a sudden Andrea and the casting director and her assistant ... my mind kind of blanks from there, I just know that they mentioned the movie. Yeah, they just had such a cute little energy about it.

ARNOLD: I saw her and she stood out, and we went to talk to her. She definitely stood out. She’s very self-possessed and also sort of free. I can’t describe it really … When we spoke to her, that’s the kind of feeling I got from her.

Sasha Lane as Star in Andrea Arnold's
Sasha Lane as Star in Andrea Arnold's "American Honey."
Photo courtesy of A24

On scouting in unusual places:

ARNOLD: Walmart’s a great place to scout —  [the] parking lot and the store, because it’s one of the few places, especially in Middle America and in some of the smaller towns, where people go. Somebody described it to me as the new "village." He said, “I’ll go to pick up girls there because they don’t hang out anywhere else.” 

"American Honey" opens on Sept. 30.

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