“It was kind of untouchable”: Taylor Sheridan Had to Beg to Read His Script for $30M Movie That No One Wanted to Touch Because it Had a Female Lead 

Sicario's script, and its content, was initially a no-go for filmmakers!

Taylor Sheridan Sicario

SUMMARY

  • Taylor Sheridan, in his own words, was merely a TV star when he wrote the screenplay of 2015's Sicario.
  • The script, due to its content and female protagonist, was not well-met by people initially.
  • However, once Sheridan begged an attorney to read it, the wheels were set in motion!
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While Taylor Sheridan has been a part of the industry since the early 1990s, it wasn’t until he delved into the field of screenwriting that he became the household name that he is today. Before that, he had multiple recurring roles in series such as Veronica Mars, two iterations of CSI, and Sons of Anarchy, in which he starred as Deputy David Hale 

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Taylor Sheridan in Sons of Anarchy [Credit FX]
Taylor Sheridan in Sons of Anarchy. | FX
Sheridan wrote his first-ever screenplay while working on Sons of Anarchy, which turned out to be Sicario. While he wrote the script after he stopped working on Sons of Anarchy in 2010, he had already sold multiple other scripts by the time Sicario went into production, which happened in the fall of 2013.

Sheridan explained that this was down to his lack of contacts, as well as the fact that the content of Sicario in itself was back then a no-go for most filmmakers, and had a female lead. This meant that Sheridan had to beg people just to read his script, and it took him years to set the wheels in motion for the $30 million movie.

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Taylor Sheridan had to beg people to read script for Sicario

Emily Blunt in a still from Sicario
Emily Blunt in Sicario. | Lionsgate

While Sheridan was a known star by the time he made it to Sons of Anarchy in 2008, he was still a ‘Television star.’ The screenwriter/actor sat for an interview with Uproxx back in March 2016, during which he went into a range of details about the kind of reception he initially got. 

Taylor Sheridan explained that while somebody like Leonardo DiCaprio could get a movie made out of his screenplay easily, that was simply not true for him back then. He claimed that Sicario became a reality because he was able to convince an attorney to read the script:

I sent it to the attorney who had negotiated a few deals for me and didn’t want to negotiate any more, and I was like, “I’m begging you, please, please read this. I don’t know what to do.” He read the script and was very taken by it, so he took it and put it in the hands of some agents who liked me. They staked their reputation on it and started sending it around. The funny thing is, by the time Sicario actually got produced, I had sold probably six or seven other scripts. It was impossible to put together for three years and then in three months it went from sitting on a shelf to going into production.

Hence, while Sicario’s screenplay was rousing right from the very start, it was its subject matter, and the existence of a female lead, which made the project ‘untouchable.’ Sheridan claimed,

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It was kind of untouchable because of the subject matter. Because of a female protagonist. Because of the violence. No one wanted to touch it, no one wanted to make a movie about that world. It had countless strikes against it.

Of course, that changed much later and Sicaro got none other than Emily Blunt as its lead. 

A number of things had to go right for Sicario to come into existence

Josh Brolin and Belicio del Toro in Sicario
A still from Sicario. | Lionsgate

As it turned out, a controversial real-life-event also played a part in Sicario becoming a reality. While Sheridan wrote the script when the USA’s war against drugs was in full motion, notorious drug lord El Chapo Guzman escaped from a Mexican prison in July 2015, which brought forth increased interest in the world of cartels, which Sicario focussed on.

That, and the fact that whoever took the time out to read Sicario’s script, immediately fell in love with it. That included eventual director Denis Villeneuve, and eventual producers Basil Iwanyk and Molly Smith. Sheridan explained,

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Basil Iwanyk of Thunder Road read it and loved it. He sent it to [producer] Molly Smith and she loved it. Then [director] Denis Villeneuve, he felt the same way. And all of a sudden we were going into production.

And that is how things eventually fell into place, as Sicario released in the United States in July 2015. Sheridan had already sold multiple scripts by then, but the director’s heart was set on Sicario, which in itself was written by him because it was the movie he ‘wanted to see.’

Sicario is available to be streamed on Amazon Prime. 

 

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Written by Rishabh Bhatnagar

Articles Published: 74

Rishabh Bhatnagar is an Entertainment and pop culture journalist/editor with Fandom Wire. He has more than 6 years of experience working for multiple major platforms and is himself an avid consumer of worthwhile content. A natural storyteller, Rishabh has a unique way with words and is always looking to improve, as a storyteller, writer, and a journalist.