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

Boyd Holbrook On Why His New Movie Vengeance Is Relevant Right Now - Exclusive

In the new movie "Vengeance," written and directed by B.J. Novak of "The Office" fame, a young, ambitious New York City journalist and podcaster named Ben (played by Novak) is drawn into the mysterious death of a West Texas woman named Abilene with whom he slept a few times. Her family, under the mistaken impression that Ben and Abilene were in a serious relationship, invites Ben to Texas for her funeral — and out of a feeling of guilt, he attends.

Once there, Abilene's older brother, Ty (Boyd Holbrook), persuades Ben to investigate her death and possibly help him avenge it. As he looks into the circumstances surrounding Abilene's passing, Ben sets out on a journey that upends his preconceptions about a people and culture he's largely unfamiliar with, while also producing a podcast that he hopes will shine a light on both.

Novak's first feature as a writer and director combines elements of mystery, satire, and social critique in a tricky balancing act of tones and genres. It also digs into some of the issues that are rampant in America right now in a sharp yet humorous way, an aspect which Boyd Holbrook — also currently playing the Corinthian in Netflix's "The Sandman" — found very compelling.

"I've always wanted to do a comedy and was trying to wait around for the right one and be patient," Holbrook told Looper. "Luckily, B.J. came to me and gave me a great script with a true eclectic, eccentric group of characters that you really felt like you knew."

Vengeance examines the red state-blue state divide in a fresh way

At its heart, "Vengeance" is a fish-out-of-water story. Ben is a hip young journalist who lives in the most cosmopolitan city in America, with few commitments and little understanding of other parts of the country. When he arrives in Texas and gets to know the people there, it's an eye-opening experience. Some of the folks he meets live up to the stereotypes about "red state" Americans, while others enlighten him in ways he didn't expect.

A native of Kentucky, Boyd Holbrook has lived in both "red" and "blue" states and says that "Vengeance" shows us that the divide between the two — which seems to widen every day — is not as clear-cut as people imagine.

"That's the genius of 'Vengeance,'" he elaborated. "We all have these conceptions about people and where they may be from ... B.J. [Novak] does such a brilliant job of bringing that out and showing us that we're all really not that different after all. We all have the same problems. We all have the same exact range of emotions that we go through and we navigate them a bit differently."

Holbrook added that his character, Ty, is the perfect embodiment of that — initially coming across as a none-too-bright "good ol' boy," Ty ends up revealing layers that defy expectations. 

"Wrangling B.J.'s character, Ben, into the family, it's highly intelligent of him to do that," explained Holbrook. "He sees such a savior in [Ben] that he might be able to help us solve the mystery of Abilene's death — to the point where he may play up the assumptions that he's this country hayseed. At the end of the day, he knows what's going on."

"Vengeance" is in theaters now.