Opening in theaters on March 15th is the new film ‘The Neon Highway,’ which was directed William Wages (‘Yellowstone’) and stars Beau Bridges (‘The Fabulous Baker Boys,’ ‘The Descendants’) and Rob Mayes (‘John Dies at the End’).

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Lee Brice, Rob Mayes and Beau Bridges in 'The Neon Highway.'

(L to R) Lee Brice, Rob Mayes and Beau Bridges in 'The Neon Highway.' Photo: Mountain Movies.

Moviefone recently had the pleasure of speaking with Beau Bridges and Rob Mayes about their work on ‘The Neon Highway,’ Bridges first reaction to the screenplay, which legendary musician his role was originally written for, inspiration he took from other real-life musicians, the advice he got from his brother Jeff Bridges on playing the guitar, working with Mayes and their characters’ relationship, while Mayes discussed his approach to playing his character, performing the movie’s title song, and what he learned from working with Bridges.

You can read the full interview below or click on the video player above to watch our interview.

Rob Mayes and Beau Bridges talk 'The Neon Highway.'

(L to R) Rob Mayes and Beau Bridges talk 'The Neon Highway.'

Moviefone: To begin with, Beau, what was your first reaction to the screenplay, and did you recognize immediately that this would be a great role for you?

Beau Bridges: Well, I recognized it was a beautifully written script. That's what I really saw initially, and that's the first thing I looked for, really. William Wages and Phil Rob Bellury wrote a wonderful script, and I liked the values that it addressed. With music at its heart, I figured it couldn't miss, because music is really the international language to hear those dulcet tunes. No, I thought, this could be a good story to tell.

MF: Rob, can you talk about your approach to playing Wayne?

Rob Mayes: Well, first, I mean it was the same thing that brought me to this project was the script and the character. I like to play roles that are either super close to home or far from, and this hit close to home because it's what I do on a day-to-day basis in Nashville. I'm an actor, but I'm also a songwriter and a country artist. So that's what drew me to it. It comes down to the song. ‘The Neon Highway’ is the name of the song. The reason this whole thing came together for me was because I took a publishing meeting about three and a half years ago to talk about songwriting, and the first thing that they said to me was, "There's a movie and maybe you could be in it. We don't know anything about it." But lo and behold, here we are. So, it really comes down to the song kind of through and through, especially with this project.

Beau Bridges in 'The Neon Highway.'

Beau Bridges in 'The Neon Highway.' Photo: Mountain Movies.

MF: Rob, can you talk about why Wayne decides to go on this journey with Claude and how their relationship grows throughout the course of the film?

RM: I mean, my character sets out to be a songwriter. Tragedy strikes, and his dreams are railed. Then through happenstance, he ends up meeting Beau's character setting up some cable in his house, and realizes that this is a country music legend, and he shoots his shot. He tries to see if maybe he would like his song, and he does, makes little tweaks, some edits, and we decided to hit the road and take it to Nashville and make it big. There's some trials and tribulations along the way to make it interesting and to make it truthful. But through all those hardships, it kind of unites our characters in a heartfelt way, I think.

MF: Beau, can you talk about Claude’s true motivations and why he decides to help Wayne?

BB: I think this movie is about survival, because our two characters are a couple of lost souls in different ways, and they've lost their purpose in life, a reason to get up and be passionate about something for the day. They're really at their wit's end, and they find in each other, some common ground and they speak to each other. There are lessons to be learned by both because of their friendship. I think that in this young man that comes into his house to fix his phone and then I give him a guitar for him to play, because I know he likes music. I learned that from him right away. I like his song and I recognize in him that there's talent there. It excites me like I haven't been excited in many years, and I think that's what happens. That's what turns him on. Then through this young man, he also sees, well, maybe I can get a resurgence to my music career. That may not be the way it turns out, but he still enjoys his relationship with this guy. We're from two different generations. I think in many ways, my character Claude sees Rob's character as a son. It takes a while for that to get there, but I think in the end, that's really what the relationship is.

Beau Bridges in 'The Neon Highway.'

Beau Bridges in 'The Neon Highway.' Photo: Mountain Movies.

MF: Beau, did you draw inspiration from any real-life musicians for this character?

BB: No, not really. I mean, I've met some music people along the way that I think about whenever I'm touching a guitar and getting into music. Jackson Brown is a friend. I think about him. He's a storyteller. The guy that was supposed to play my role, the script was written some 30 years ago, and Johnny Cash was supposed to play my role. I've always loved his music, so I was listening to that.

MF: Rob, can you talk about the title song and performing it in the movie?

RM: It's a great song and it's written by one of the greatest, Dallas Davidson, single-handedly. So, a hundred percent by Dallas. He was able to write a song that kind of distills the entire story of the film down to three minutes. Beau gets to perform it too, and he does a heck of a job with it.

Beau Bridges in 'The Neon Highway.'

Beau Bridges in 'The Neon Highway.' Photo: Mountain Movies.

MF: Beau, obviously you have a musical background having performed in ‘The Fabulous Baker Boys,’ but what was it like for you to have an opportunity to sing and play guitar in this movie?

BB: Yeah, it was a little scary for me in the beginning. I have had some experience. I was on Broadway in ‘How to Succeed Business Without Really Trying.’ I did that for six months and really prepared hard for that. In this one, I had a lot of support from these guys, the real guys helping me, Rob and Lee Brice, who's in it and is a fantastic singer. Then our music director, Chuck Mead worked with me a lot before I even got on the set, just helping me try to get myself together. Also, my brother Jeff (Bridges) is a performer and singer and has a band. So, he talked to me a lot about it. He said, "Make sure that you keep the straight rhythm all the time. Don't try to be picking around like you do." He said, "You got to just keep the straight rhythm." So, I took it from whoever I could get it from.

MF: Rob, what was it like for you to work on this film with Mr. Bridges?

RM: Incredible. An absolute dream. I mean, this was a movie that I kind of took things into my own hands and reached out to the casting director and expressed my interest. Let’s just say that the sticky wall method for me auditioning and just seeing what comes my way doesn't really work. But hitting them up worked in this case. They let me know that they wanted me to be a part of it. I asked, "Well, is anyone else attached?" They said, "Yeah, Beau Bridges," which I mean there's nobody better. I learned so much from him getting to work with him every single day. His humility and just passion for it. It would be so easy to phone things in and he does not.

'The Neon Highway' opens in theaters on March 15th.

'The Neon Highway' opens in theaters on March 15th. Photo: Mountain Movies.

MF: Finally, Beau, what was your experience like working with Rob?

BB: Well, coming into it, I mean, he really carries the movie on his shoulders, a lot of it. So, I was wondering what he would bring to the table because it was such an important element of our project. You can tell right away if someone has a good sense of being an actor. It's a strange world to inhabit. Some people don't have it and some people do, and he does. He has a real natural way about it communicating on screen and on the set. He's hardworking too. Some young people that come into this business think they're God's gift and they're late, they don't know their lines, and they're not professional. He was right there every step of the way. I think this movie should open a lot of stuff for him.

The Neon Highway

"Second chances don't come easy."
PG-131 hr 53 minMar 13th, 2024
Showtimes & Tickets

What is the Plot of ‘The Neon Highway’?

Wayne Collins (Rob Mayes) pursues a career as a country music singer-songwriter in Nashville, but his plans are derailed after he is involved in a car accident. Twenty years later, he is economically struggling with a 9 to 5 job to support his family until he meets Claude Allen (Beau Bridges), a famous country musician near the end of his career. The two form a partnership to pair Collins's songwriting and Allen's fame but face a challenge when they find the changing country music industry is not interested in recording their song.

Who is in the Cast of ‘The Neon Highway’?

  • Rob Mayes as Wayne Collins
  • Beau Bridges as Claude Allen
  • Sam Hennings as Ray
  • T.J. Power as Lloyd Collins
  • Lee Brice as Lamont Johnson
  • Pam Tillis as Herself
  • Jennifer Bowles as Ginny Collins
  • Sandra Lee-Oian Thomas as Pepper Dewberry
  • Wilbur T. Fitzgerald as Buck Bates
  • Brett Gentile as Elton

'The Neon Highway' opens in theaters on March 15th.

'The Neon Highway' opens in theaters on March 15th. Photo: Mountain Movies.

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