How Mike Faist and Jeff Nichols recreated Danny Lyon’s iconic photos for “The Bikeriders”

Lyon’s influential photographs of 1960s motorcycle gangs inspired the new film, also starring Jodie Comer, Austin Butler, and Tom Hardy.

EW's 2024 Summer Preview has dozens of exclusive looks at the most anticipated TV shows, movies, books, and music of entertainment's hottest season. Continue to visit through May for more previews of what you'll be watching, reading, and listening to in the months to come.

Tom Hardy, Austin Butler, and Jodie Comer are hitting the road.

The three actors star in Jeff Nichols’ The Bikeriders (in theaters June 21), a sprawling portrait of 1960s motorcycle culture. The film follows the rise and fall of one particular biker gang: the fictional Chicago-based Vandals, led by Hardy’s hulking gang boss Johnny. Nichols based the film on Danny Lyon’s acclaimed 1967 photobook of the same name, which captured mid-century biker culture in all its grit and glory, and the writer-director tells Entertainment Weekly that he wanted to bring that same candid quality to the film.

<p>Mike Faist/Focus Features</p> Boyd Holbrook, Austin Butler, and Tom Hardy in 'The Bikeriders,' photographed on set by costar Mike Faist

Mike Faist/Focus Features

Boyd Holbrook, Austin Butler, and Tom Hardy in 'The Bikeriders,' photographed on set by costar Mike Faist

“Danny’s photos are an incredible portrait of a complicated subculture,” Nichols tells Entertainment Weekly. “The clothes, hair, bikes, faces, and personalities he documented gave me everything I needed to fully portray the people from this time and place. I’m fascinated by the fact that his photos and interviews can be both romantic and unvarnished at the same time. Like motorcycles, they hold a discordance. They’re beautiful and dangerous, appealing and formidable.”

Challengers and West Side Story star Mike Faist plays Lyon, portraying the photographer as a curious observer. The film stretches across several years, as Lyon gets to know rebellious Vandals member Benny (Butler) and his wife Kathy (Comer), photographing both throughout the 1960s and early ‘70s. (True to his character, Faist snapped plenty of photos on set, and EW has an exclusive look above at one of his behind-the-scenes shots of Boyd Holbrook, Butler, and Hardy.)

<p>Focus Features</p> 'The Bikeriders'

Focus Features

'The Bikeriders'

Nichols particularly praises Faist’s inquisitive curiosity as an actor — even in the scenes where he’s simply listening to an interviewee or silently observing the Vandals as they speed around Chicago.

“He strikes me as a person who is searching for meaning in the things he’s interested in,” Nichols says of Faist. “That’s how he approached this role, and every time I cut to his character, he was invested in the stories he was recording. It would be very easy for this role to have been a wallflower, but Mike imbued his character with introspection and empathy.”

Much of the film centers around interviews between Lyon and Kathy, and Nichols structured his screenplay around three different conversations in three different years: 1965, 1969, and 1973. Doing so allowed him to chronicle the rise and fall of the club — from the romance and optimism of the early days to the more jaded sincerity of the later years. “I chose to cut back and forth between all three interviews throughout the film,” he explains. “It’s not a conventional choice, but I wanted to show how [Kathy’s] character was evolving.”

<p>Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features</p> Mike Faist and Jodie Comer in 'The Bikeriders'

Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features

Mike Faist and Jodie Comer in 'The Bikeriders'

Nichols also points out that he used different camera techniques for each scene: For 1965, he used a handheld camera to give the sequence a “kinetic and romantic” quality, capturing Kathy “in her early days with the club when she is still caught up in the whirlwind of it all.” Meanwhile, the 1973 sequence is filmed on a stationary tripod, with Nichols explaining that the “camera is very still to capture Kathy at her most insightful and weary.”

But, the director adds, it’s Comer and Faist’s performances that fully breathe life into those interviews. “Those scenes are the backbone of the film,” he explains, “narratively and emotionally.”

The Bikeriders also stars Michael Shannon and Norman Reedus. It hits theaters June 21.

Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.

Related content:

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.