The Scott Wiper directorial, ‘The Big Ugly,’ is a crime thriller drama movie that focuses on Neeyln, a loyal and efficient enforcer for crime boss Harris who trusts him to go to extra lengths to keep his business problem-free even if it means getting rid of people that might disrupt his illegal business. Things change when Harris shakes hands with an old friend named Preston, an oilman, and they find themselves invited to the hills of West Virginia.
The celebrations of the contract signing run until night, but it results in the disappearance of Neelyn’s girlfriend. Since she was last seen with Preston’s overconfident son Junior, Neelyn’s suspicion lies on him. As the film taps into the complications between family and friends, which are relevant and true-to-life in many ways, many of you might be wondering if ‘The Big Ugly’ takes inspiration from a true story or not.
The Big Ugly is Not a Real-Life Tale
No, ‘The Big Ugly’ is not based on a true story, but there are certain real-life elements that the screenwriters — Scott Wiper and Paul Tarantino — inculcated into the plot. Being in the creative pipeline ever since 2007, the screenplay was mainly inspired by two sources. Back in the 2000s, Wiper was out with Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham, both of whom grew up in London with a unique dialect. After being intrigued by listening to them talk like Londoners, he was pushed by them to write a script. The other inspiration for Wiper and his script came from within his family, particularly his father and 0their history with oil.
In an interview with Vegas Movie Awards, one of the co-producers, Mike Will Downey, was asked about the inspirations for ‘The Big Ugly.’ He explained, “On this film, Scott’s influences were real people in our lives. Real lives. Real deaths. Real wishes, regrets, anger, joy, and gratitude. We were also inspired by the nostalgia of other eras: paperback novels of Jim Thompson and Ian Fleming, all things Clint Eastwood, ‘Get Carter’ with Michael Caine, ‘The Getaway’ with Steve McQueen, and of course, ‘The Long Good Friday.'”
As mentioned above, Wiper was inspired by his family’s connection with oil and his past family disputes. Before his father passed away in 2015, he told Wiper that they owned a piece of oil-rich Appalachian land, which was fracked by an oil company illegally. Following the incident, his father took things to court and managed to win a significant amount of fees for all the family members in Appalachia. However, he decided to donate his share to a land conservancy, The Appalachian Alliance. Basically, his father did not want the family to receive any kind of profit from fracking, as per Wiper’s claims.
In a telephonic interview, the filmmaker, Wiper, revealed, “This bizarre chain of events led to me going down to the edge of Appalachia and learning this story. I did all this research not only on family but Appalachia, which was the original Wild West.” While working with Jones, one of the co-producers of the movie, Wiper took inspiration from his family’s story and inclined toward the Appalachian setting rather than the plot’s original setting of Texas, describing the movie as a modern-day Western and a film noir.
Joining Wiper on his project in 2017 was Downey, who recalled the good old times. He stated, “Late in 2017, I met with Scott and we talked about it and began working on it. I began working early in 2018. I was the first one in Morehead, Kentucky, when Scott touched down and the rest started to come together… This has really been a dream come true if you look at it from the time I was in high school, to now, and being working on a movie of this size and also with Scott Wiper. ” All in all, the demise of Wiper’s father and his friendship with Vinnie, are the two primary things that kickstarted the idea for the screenplay of ‘The Big Ugly.’ However, it doesn’t change the fact that the Vinnie Jones starrer is not rooted in reality.