Shane West standing at a car in The Dirty South

Shane West and Matthew Yerby on Bringing ‘The Dirty South’ to Life

The Dirty South was a surprising film from director Matthew Yerby that highlights two unlikely people joining forces to take on the rich and powerful of the deep south. When Sue (Willa Holland) is forced to pay up what is owed on her bar or lose everything, she meets Dion (Shane West) who gives her a chance to make the money she needs and then some.

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In speaking with Yerby and Shane West, thanks to the film having a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement, it’s clear that he wanted to highlight specifically what it means to be in the deep south and the divide there, especially for Sue as she fights against Jeb (Dermot Mulroney) trying to take what belongs to her family.

The movie takes place where the elite own everything and the lower class are left in the dust. When I asked Yerby about finding that balance, he said it was one of his goals in bringing the film to life. “I just told somebody that there’s really no middle class in like rural south,” he said. “There is the lower class and the upper class. And I was lucky enough to actually show that through a river. There’s this side of the river and there’s that side of the river. And luckily my locations actually were on the same exact river. It was very important to me to actually show that there one side of that river cost $15,000 and the other side of that river costs $2 million. And it’s just where people stay and it’s like an unwritten rule that nobody talks about.”

You can see our full conversation with Matthew Yerby here:

Shane West on the complexities of The Dirty South

On the flip of Sue and her struggle is Dion, who joins the film as a man crossing through town who has no connection there. Still, he finds himself drawn to her and forced to stay with her to help. Dion’s connection to the film is a fascinating one and in talking with Shane West, it’s what drew him to the movie as a whole.

“He knows he’s on a one-way track at this point, but pre-meeting her, he knows he’s not a bad guy,” West said. “He is definitely misunderstood, but he’s doing some bad things. So he has had a troubled life. He’s on the run for multiple reasons. And that’s going to only go so far. He’s always been looking for love that has alluded him in his family life and him growing up. And he’s not obviously interested in the two girls that was with him in the beginning of the movie. But he also knows that there’s a shelf life here, right? So running into her, there’s the immediate attraction. But they’re kind of kindred spirits.”

You can see our full chat here:

The Dirty South releases in theaters, on digital, and on demand on November 10th, 2023!

(featured image: Cineverse)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.