Just how does an Italian wind up in a dinosaur pit in the Badlands of North Dakota battling a Mexican drug cartel and working for a Hollywood director/producer?
Seems that the Hollywood executive, Dan Glaser, always had the actor, Rhys Coiro, in the back of his mind for a movie.
That movie turns out to be ‘Valley of Bones,’ a crime thriller that opened Friday (Sept. 1).
“Every director keeps a short list of actors that they hope to work with one day, and Rhys was on mine,” said Glaser in movie production notes. “So when his name was brought up as a possibility for Nate, I was personally invested in getting him on board.”
Coiro – who has appeared as a regular in ‘Entourage’ and ‘Ray Donovan’ – plays the gruff-but-dependable auto mechanic who accompanies a down-on-her-luck paleontologist, Anna (Autumn Reeser, like Coiro also an ‘Entourage’ regular).
The 38-year-old actor savored the chance to play Nate.
“It’s not necessarily the role that comes my way,” said Coiro during a phone interview. “It was neat to see me in there.”
Coiro had the opportunity to work with Reeser (they never saw each other during the filming of ‘Entourage’), and even discovered they live in the same Los Ángeles neighborhood.
You don’t necessarily think of picking up dinosaur bones as a treasure that comes with all of the adventure.
Actor Rhys Coiro
“I think the rapport is very natural between us in the film,” said Coiro.
The actor was drawn to the original screenplay, which he called “interesting, original, thought-provoking.”
“You don’t necessarily think of picking up dinosaur bones as a treasure that comes with all of the adventure,” he said. “It’s the buried treasure that many folks are trying to get their hands on.”
The movie finds Anna and Nate digging up a rare find of a complete T. Rex fossil in the Badlands. The bones are worth $4 million, which draws the interest of the Mexican drug cartel and digs up not-so-angelic pasts for Anna and protagonist McKoy (Steven Molony).
Coiro gave thumbs up for filming mostly on location, even though that presented problems in lugging cameras and other equipment over rough terrain. A rainstorm, which was actually at the end of the movie, presented even more challenges.
“There is nothing better than shooting a movie in the exact place it’s set,” said Coiro. “It’s great to be able to immerse in the local culture.”
The cast stayed at an actual cattle ranch, giving Coiro the chance to go on cattle roundups.
Coiro likens ‘Valley of Bones’ to the 1948 classic ‘Treasure of the Sierra Madre’ but “a little more contemporary.”
“It’s about human nature, and family. It’s about a parent chasing their dreams, but also being there for your kid.”
Coiro paints ‘Valley of Bones’ as a “dark movie, noir, different things going on, a bit of a Western.”
Executive producer Jon Wanzek, who came up with the idea for the movie, was impressed by Coiro.
“Rhys Coiro is a natural,” said Wanzek, who financed the movie. “It’s like he was born and raised out here in North Dakota.”