The truck driver finds himself drawn into the dark and dangerous world of Paradise Highway. The plot of the film centers on Sally Juliette Binoche, who, along with a teenage girl named Leila, runs to save her from human trafficking and sexual slavery.
In addition to Binoche, the Paradise Highway line-up includes Cameron Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Frank Grillo, Hala Finley, Veronica Ferres and Christian Sidel.
Ahead of the film’s release, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with star Cameron Monaghan to discuss Paradise Highway, the film’s darker theme, working with Morgan Freeman and his potential future in Star Wars.
Screen Rant: Paradise Highway is quite an interesting film because it touches on a very serious topic. What exactly in the film attracted you to the project?
Cameron Monahan: Well, I think that’s what was amazing about the script when I first read it. Our director, Anna Gutto, also wrote the script, and there’s a human factor in it, there’s beauty in these characters, besides the fact that he’s dealing with an extremely, extremely heavy subject, which I think is really amazing. When you have a story about sexual slavery and human trafficking, especially involving children, it can be very easy to feel unpleasant and turn into a routine to watch. There was also lightness and beauty in these moments. Our main characters, played by Juliet Binoche and Hala Finley, have a wonderful dynamic between this female truck driver and this young girl.
This dynamic of this gravity and this interest mixed with this humanity was also reflected in my character, who was a young FBI agent, and Morgan Freeman, a former FBI agent, who travel together trying to pursue the first two characters. . When I read it, despite the fact that the script is about human trafficking and sexual slavery, which are very complex topics, it did not seem to me that it was a routine job. Instead, it seemed like every page was just flying by, and I really needed to know what happened, how the story would resolve and where it would go.
Since you mentioned the human factor in this film, what was it like to get into the essence of your character, who is a new face in this really dark world?
Cameron Monahan: Yes, I think that’s my character. He is a recent graduate of Yale University, works as an office employee in the FBI and asks for field experience, so he is thrown into this world with which he is completely unfamiliar. And to be honest, I don’t think he’s fully prepared for it, I’m not sure anyone is fully prepared for it before he gets into it, and in many ways I think he’s acting as an access point for the audience. He’s a person who’s a little unfamiliar with this world and is going to make some mistakes along the way, and I think there’s something akin to that.
Morgan Freeman’s character is old in this, he’s been doing this for over 50 years, and he doesn’t necessarily play by the rules anymore, and he has enough experience to get away with it. Finley is a person who kind of wonders if it’s always the right decision, there’s a little friction between these two characters, and I think that’s kind of an interesting dynamic for someone who maybe adheres a little more to the new school and has slightly different thoughts about it than what makes his character. There’s something both fun and worth exploring about it.
How was it for you to develop this dynamic with Morgan behind the scenes?
Cameron Monaghan: Yes, you know, I don’t think anyone will be shocked if they say that Morgan Freeman is an absolute professional, and he meets your expectations regarding his preparation and presence on the stages. He always had a question, he always had a question about motivation. “Why are we doing this? Why are we saying this? Where are we going? What do we want?” He always made sure that the scenes were sealed, he took our director Anna Gutto aside, as well as everyone who was in the scene, and we discussed this while shooting the previous scene.
So most of the time, Morgan and I were scrolling through the lines for the next scene while we were doing the previous scene, and just trying to figure out what it is, which is also a realistic element when you’re working hard. plan with a limited budget, making sure that you don’t go astray. He was very good at keeping everyone informed. Usually we thought out the scenes in such a way that when we actually shot every angle, we did one take, maybe two, and we succeeded, and then we moved on. There’s something magical about whatever it is, it’s going to be, and being able to let it go, I think that’s what I’ve learned along the way.