Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Prisoner's Daughter Director Catherine Hardwicke On Filming In The Real Las Vegas - Exclusive

Hollywood has been coming to Las Vegas almost since a man of vision and guts named Moe Greene first invented the town (that's a deep cut reference to "The Godfather," and no, according to the Nevada government, it's not true). The glitter of the Las Vegas Strip, along with the lure of the casinos, the gambling, the showgirls, and the many other vices that gave the town its nickname of "Sin City" have proven irresistible to filmmakers for decades.

But whether it's an epic mob drama like "Casino," a heist thriller such as "Ocean's Eleven," a rom-com along the lines of "Honeymoon in Vegas," or an existential tragedy like "Leaving Las Vegas," most of the films set in Vegas revolve around the Strip. For her new movie, "Prisoner's Daughter," director Catherine Hardwicke was handed a script (by Mark Bacci) featuring residents of the city who work off the Strip and behind the scenes — sometimes in unsavory professions.

One of those is Max (Brian Cox), a Vegas mob enforcer serving a life sentence in prison, but he's given early release when he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The only condition is that he has to live out his last months under house arrest at the home of his daughter, Maxine (Kate Beckinsale), who's estranged from her father, bitterly angry at him, and juggling two jobs while trying to raise her young son.

Max and Maxine's story plays out behind the façade of Vegas, with Maxine, a one-time dancer at Caesar's, now working in a hotel laundry and waitressing at an off-Strip eatery. "There's all these layers of being close to the glitter," Hardwicke told Looper in an exclusive interview. "But then you end up working in the laundry where they wash all the towels."

Hardwicke shot the movie off the Vegas Strip

In "Prisoner's Daughter," Maxine lives the kind of paycheck-to-paycheck life that most working people live, except with the massive, gleaming casinos of Vegas sparkling just a short distance away. We see her son Ezra (Christopher Convery) going to school or visiting a boxing gym with his grandfather — all of it dwarfed by the gigantic nexus of entertainment and decadence overshadowing everything.

"I was specifically looking for [places] where you could see the backside of Vegas from your house," Catherine Hardwicke told us about scouting locations in the city. "You could see the towers from [Maxine's] house ... I love the boxing gym; you could see the backside of a billboard hanging over [it]. It's like you're almost at the glamor."

Hardwicke explained that she was fascinated by seeing a side of Vegas that not many filmmakers get to explore. Central to that was the home in which Max and Maxine live: Hardwicke was looking for a house of a certain age and style, which has become increasingly hard to find in Vegas as new people move in and update older properties.

"The house we had was a kind of a '50s modern, wannabe Palm Springs house," she said. "Most of those houses have been renovated with the new wave of people, but that one, I literally knocked on 50 doors and found that house. That still had the age where it could have been there when Max was there, because it was a family house. Even finding these elements in Vegas and learning about the neighborhoods and the people there was all a mind-blowing experience."

"Prisoner's Daughter" recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.