The actor, who plays the lead role in the Prime Video series Daisy Jones and the Six, presents, with Gina Gammell, her first film as a director, War Pony – Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2022. What if Riley Keough is the new icon of American independent cinema?
In 2015, in a motel in the depths of South Dakota, Riley Keough shot a few scenes in American Honey, the first American feature film by British director Andrea Arnold. It was there that she met Bill Reddy and Franklin Sioux Bob, Native Americans and extras on the film. She became fascinated with their “fantastic, wild, and sometimes disturbing” stories. With her friend Gina Gammell, they then went to see them regularly at the Pine Ridge reserve where they were originally from. Fascinated by the place and its community, they decided to make a film about it, War Pony, for which Bill and Franklin Sioux were co-writers.
However, nothing destined Riley Keough, granddaughter of Elvis Presley and former model for Dolce & Gabbana and Christian Dior, to take an interest in the poor, deep America that War Pony portrays. The young filmmaker has been charting a unique course in contemporary American cinema for over ten years. A child of show business – her stepfather was Michael Jackson and also Nicolas Cage – the actor has always chosen her films with taste and intelligence, offering herself a discreet but impressive career at the age of 33.
When she shoots in Hollywood, it is for renowned directors: Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike, Logan Lucky, and of course the series The Girlfriend Experience) or George Miller and the gleaming Mad Max: Fury Road.
In general, she is more likely to be found in independent films: she is the mysterious Sarah, with whom Andrew Garfield falls madly in love in David Robert Mitchell’s Under the Silver Lake, and a young mother seeking refuge in an apocalyptic world in Trey Shults’ disturbing It Comes at Night – two films distributed by A24, a leading light in the field of auteur cinema in the United States.
Riley Keough is also not afraid to venture into more risky projects, such as Xan Cassavetes’ (John Cassavetes’ daughter) highly stylized vampire film, Kiss of the Damned, or Lars von Trier’s metaphysical thriller, The House that Jack Built.
Like Jonah Hill (90s) or Joel Edgerton (Boy Erased), Riley Keough belongs to this new generation of actors who move without difficulty from films to series, and from acting to directing.
With Gina Gammell, she founded her own production company, Felix Culpa. After War Pony, they have just finished their second film as producers, Manodrome, directed by John Trengove, with Jesse Eisenberg in the role of a VTC driver who dreams of being a body-builder.
A social media veteran, Riley Keough has a mastery of irony; the name of her production company – founded by two women in a male-dominated industry – is proof of this: Felix Culpa: “the happy mistake.”
War Pony: Released in cinemas on 13 May 2023