First Listen: 'Bred and Buttered' by John Hawkes, from Winter's Bone

"I'm the kind of songwriter who isn't good on spec," confesses John Hawkes. "Sometimes I can sit down and a song will kind of happen, but more likely, an idea will follow me around for months and shove me into a corner until there's no more choice and it just comes out." So how did the actor end up on the soundtrack to Winter's Bone, the just-released indie where Hawkes stars opposite Jennifer Lawrence?

It helped that the film's director, Debra Granik, caught wind of the actor's stints in bands like Meat Joy and King Straggler. "Debra Granik knew that I wrote songs and think she was just encouraging me to write something," Hawkes tells Movieline. "It wasn't necessarily for the movie, she was just daring me in a really wonderful way to explore the feelings of the film and see what they might bring out of me."

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Months after shooting wrapped, Hawkes was in Hawaii shooting Lost when he picked up a ukelele. "I liked the idea of taking something that's a happy instrument and making it more plaintive," he explains. "I was just messing around on it, and I jotted some words down regarding Winter's Bone." Though Hawkes is reluctant to explain the song too much -- "It's tough to talk about the film without giving the movie away," he says -- he will admit that instead of writing from the perspective of his own character, the intimidating Teardrop, he put himself in the mindset of Teardrop's brother, whose disappearance sets the plot in motion.

"I began to think this would be a nice gift to give for Debra, just for fun," says the actor. "I went into a studio and recorded it in the first week of January, mixed it a little bit and brought it to her at Sundance." Granik so liked the track, "Bred and Buttered," that she added it to the film's soundtrack album.

Hawkes is currently shooting Vera Farmiga's directorial debut Higher Ground, and he says that both he and Farmiga (who received a career bump from Granik's 2004 film Down to the Bone) have swapped stories about the Winter's Bone director. "There's a mutual admiration we have for Debra. She's probably one of my favorite directors I've worked with, ever. She's got a handle on telling a story that kind of lines up with my own, and that's such a relief."

[Lead Photo Credit: Fred Hayes/Getty Images]



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