Interview with Ty Roberts and Lane Garrison

Director and Star of “The Iron Orchard”

Dallas, Texas, February 20, 2019

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association


Ron Salfen:  One of the things that struck me about the movie is that it started in 1939, and I kept thinking, “Soon we're going to get some mention of World War II, “ but there was none.

Ty Roberts:  Yeah, that was a whole tangent we explored.  In the book, it mentions that being an oil field worker saved him from the draft.

RS:  Ah, because the oil production was vital to the war effort.

TR:  Exactly.  But when we filmed a scene about it, it didn't resonate like we wanted it to, so it hit the chopping block.  It did not make the cut.  And my grandfather was in the oil patch in the 30's and 40's and did not go to the War, because he was servicing oil rigs.  So I wanted to put it in the movie, but it's not a one-line deal.  It became an intricate thing involving more than 11 minutes, and I decided there were other parts I wanted to include instead.  And we also weren't doing anything else in the society that reflected the War effort, either, so it just didn't fit. Honestly, when we do the television series, we'll devote a whole couple of episodes! (laughs)

Lane Garrison: You know, usually you read the book first and then the script, but I read the script first, and didn't know the book existed.  I was so blown away by the script, and I was amazed to discover that many others have approached this, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford, producer after producer, but nobody could crack the code until now.  That tells you something about the power of the story.

RS:  In the “for what it's worth department,” I was waiting for you to get back with Lee.

LG:  You know, it's funny, my Aunt said to me, “You are such a jerk.  What you did to that poor young lady.”  (laughs)  You know, it's about the oil industry, but I'm kind of a good, old-fashioned romantic, hey, I loved “Titanic,” and I'm not ashamed to say it!  There's a great love story there, and a great lesson for us stubborn guys about what life and love is all about.  I'm blown away by all of it, and so happy to be out here promoting it.  You know, the first guys we showed this to were oil men and their wives, and at the end of the movie, we get a standing ovation, so I knew we had something special.

RS:  I like the way you developed that relationship with Lee, from the first glances on the truck, then she offers you the ride, and it's all awkward.

LG:  It's funny, Ali's from Chicago, and the rest of us were Texans.  It's 115 degrees, a swarm of tarantulas, she'd never seen a cow in his life.  I remember asking Ty, “I don't know about this actress; I don't know if I can work with her.”  And he says, 'Just trust me, man.' “  And I thought the romance part was beautiful---so beautiful my wife will not watch this film!  (laughs) You know, when Ty was directing me, he would say, “Give me that Jim McNeely swagger,” and he'd walk away.

TR:  He had the elements down; he didn't have to dig too terribly deep for that.  He was the person made for this role.  All I had to do was give him certain direction for specific moments, especially when there were a lot of changes in the character.  But he is the guy; he tapped into it very easily.

LG:  The book was such a great backstory.  And I had a very similar upbringing as Jim McNeely, and it just struck a chord with me.

RS:  My first reaction of you with Mazie was “How could you?”  And later I thought that it kind of vindicated your previous rejection by her.

LG: Yes, I thought his motivation in general stemmed from his early upbringing, he wanted respect.

But the finances are not what make men worthy.


Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association