A film about an outlaw hobo starring Hollywood actor Michael Pitt is filming in Tacoma through Thursday.
“You Can’t Win” features Pitt, one of the stars of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” and Hannah Marks of this year’s “The Amazing Spider-Man.”
The film is an adaptation of a 1926 autobiography by hobo and burglar Jack Black. Filming with Pitt is taking place in and around Old City Hall now through May 3.
Black’s autobiography covers his life on the road in the western United States and Canada. He was born near Vancouver, B.C. in 1881. His writings influenced author William S. Burroughs and others of the Beat Generation.
Robinson Devor is the director and Charles Mudede, a long time writer for Seattle’s The Stranger newspaper, shares screen writing credits. Devor directed Mudede’s 2007 documentary “Zoo” about a sexual encounter between a horse and a man in Enumclaw in 2005.
I spoke with Mudede this evening about the film. Mudede wasn’t familiar with the book when Devor brought him in on the project but he quickly became a fan.
“We really tried to write a story about a person who became a thief. He learns how to crack safes, deal with police officers. He’s writing (the book) when the country is thinking about prison reform. (The message is) You can’t win because the game is too difficult.”
When Pitt read the script and signed on he asked for some changes which impressed Mudede, he said. “He read (the book) through and through. It was so impressive to work with him. He was so dedicated to filling out the character as much as he could.” Pitt plays the adult Jack Black in the film.
Production on the film started Monday in Tacoma.
“Tacoma came in to the picture because we were looking for 19th Century architecture,” Mudede said.
Filming will move to Port Angeles, the International District in Seattle and to Snohomish after it wraps in Tacoma. Mudede calls it a regional film and said production in Washington would not have been possible without the state’s film incentive program.
“We could not have done it without that,” Mudede said.
Pitt played James “Jimmy” Darmody on “Boardwalk Empire” – a critically acclaimed series set in Prohibition era Atlantic City. (Spoiler Alert!) His character was killed off by Steve Buscemi’s character in the most recent season’s finale. Pitt has also appeared in “Funny Games,” “Last Days” (about Kurt Cobain), “The Dreamers” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”
Marks has had many television roles including recurring ones on USA’s “Necessary Roughness” and Showtime’s “Weeds.” She was in the Justin Long and Jonah Hill comedy “Accepted.”
The production company for “You Can’t Win,” Parts & Labor, has produced the films “Old Joy,” “Cold Weather” (filmed in Portland and shown two years ago at the Tacoma Film Festival) and “Beginners” which earned star Christopher Plummer an Oscar this year.