Park City, Utah. Critics at the Sundance premier of Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot were enthusiastic about the new film. Joaquin Phoenix plays John Callahan, Jonah Hill is his AA sponsor and Rooney Mara is his girlfriend. Jack Black also makes an appearance in this dramatic comedy, but one of the biggest names belongs to the director. Gus Van Sant hasn’t had a premier of one of his films at Sundance for over a decade, so festival organizers were pleased to offer a spot for Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot. The film follows cartoonist John Callahan’s emergence as an artist, as well as his struggles with alcoholism and his disability. Gus Van Sant knew the fellow Portlander. Coincidentally, actor Robin Williams approached Van Sant, whom he knew from their collaboration on Good Will Hunting, to propose working together on an adaptation of Callahan’s memoir. The project was sidelined after William’s death in 2014. Finally, Van Sant brought the project to fruition. The release date of the film is May 11th. (Photo credit, 2018 Sundance Institute, Tiffany Roohani)

Tom Callahan, the artist’s brother, joined the cast and crew at the Sundance Premier along with ten other members of their family, and he spoke of visiting the set to meet with Van Sant and the actors, including Phoenix. “We spent some time with Joaquin and were totally blown away by how well he was able to imitate Jonathan,” Tom Callahan said.

John Callahan died in 2010 from complications related to his quadriplegia. He was 59. Callahan, a quadriplegic since a traffic accident at age 21, is best known for his cartoons that consistently stepped beyond the boundaries of political correctness. His work appeared in more than 200 newspapers and magazines.

Here’s a trailer for the film:

At the premier, Jonah Hill and Jack Black raved about working with the Gus Van Sant. “It’s one of those things where you get the call and you say, ‘holy crap, is this really happening? Am I really going to get to work with Gus?’” Black said. “And you get to the set and you realize everyone’s on the same page, everyone would be there for free.” Hill, who’s almost unrecognizable as Callahan’s AA sponsor/louche West Coast guru, concurred. “He sets this creative, free, quiet, lovely tone, and allows for experiences just to happen. In a lot of those scenes you wouldn’t have read them in that way, and they kind of just turn into those things. It’s just one of the better most beautiful acting experiences I’ve ever had,” he said. “He’s the maestro.”

Here’s an interview with Director, Gus Van Sant and Composer, Danny Elfman.

Amazon Studios will release “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” in theaters in May.

About Sundance:

Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and new media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Boyhood, Swiss Army Man, Manchester By the Sea, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, Life, Animated, Sonita, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Sin Nombre, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Executive Director Keri Putnam oversees all programs of the Institute, which has offices in Park City, Utah, Los Angeles and New York City.

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL Founded in 1985 and takes place in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Sundance, Utah. Approximately 200 feature-length and short films are selected each year. For the 2017 Festival, 13,782 film submissions from 147 countries were received.  The Festival also presents panels, music programming and the New Frontier exhibition of new media work. 

The 2017 Festival was attended by at least 71,600 people, supported 2,778 local jobs and generated $151.5 million in economic activity and $14 million in state and local tax revenue, according to an independent economic and demographic study conducted by Y2 Analytics.