'Bikeriders' maneuvers through 60's Chicago motorcycle gang life

FILE PHOTO: Photocall for the film 'Dune: Part Two' at Savoy Place, in London

By Rollo Ross and Danielle Broadway

(Reuters) - For Austin Butler, getting into his role as the stoic bike rider named Benny in the Focus Features film “The Bikeriders” meant learning everything he could about riding a motorcycle.

“Just riding for so many hours that it feels like second nature and then by the time I'm there I'm not having to think about the motorcycle or anything,” the “Elvis” actor said.

The film is based on photojournalist Danny Lyon's 1968 book of the same name, featuring photos and interviews with members of the Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club.

Jeff Nichols, who wrote and directed “The Bikeriders,” believed it was important to reimagine Lyon’s work through a feature film.

"You can't pick that book up and not be captivated by these photographs and these interviews," he said.

"The people in it, they just feel honest, and they also feel really cool. You're looking at their hair, you're looking at their bikes and their clothes and the detail work that they put in their clothes, it really is a compelling thing,” Nichols added.

The drama movie takes place in the 1960s and follows the lives of local outcasts in a Chicago motorcycle gang called Outlaws MC that become like family.

Their lives suddenly change when the club becomes a hub for violence that forces Benny to choose between his family and a life of crime.

“The Bikeriders” arrives in theaters on Friday.

Tom Hardy plays the leader of the gang named Johnny while Jodie Comer portrays Benny’s wife, Kathy.

Hardy appreciated how immersive the world of the 1960s biker gang was in the film.

"You could sense how beautifully laced it was in nostalgia of the period and the attention to detail was really specific, that it was hard not to be drawn in by the evocation," he said.

Part of the authenticity of the film was Nichols accessing some of Lyon's interviews with his subjects on reel-to-reel tapes to share with all the actors, which was very helpful for Comer.

“It just became very important for me not to worry about doing a generic Chicago and then worry about people judging me on that,” Comer said.

Both Comer and Hardy had the task of taking on the unique pacing and Midwestern dialects of their characters based on Lyon's interview recordings.

"She is larger than life and she has some interesting stresses and inflections but it's such an insight as to who she is," the "Killing Eve" actor added about her character Kathy.

(Reporting by Rollo Ross and Danielle Broadway; Editing by Stephen Coates)