Michael McKean as Harlan
Though Michael McKean created the immortal David St. Hubbins in “This is Spinal Tap” – the greatest rock’n’roll comedy of all time – I cast him in “Adventures of Power” because he understood the working-class-hero soul of the story.
His character, Harlan, was named for the great Barbara Kopple documentary, “Harlan County, USA,” about striking coal miners in Kentucky. I intended to shoot in a copper mine, based on my experience living in a striking copper town in New Mexico. Ironically, we ended up shooting at a coal processing plant in Utah, so it was indeed “power” they were making, not the copper for cymbals, but we did grab some shots of nearby copper mines as well. Michael sunk right into the role, developing the walk and talk of a tough union leader with a gentle heart, who doesn’t know what to do about his strange air-drumming son. He’s the heart of the film.