Garrett Hedlund says a huge effort was made not to make 'Mudbound' a "sentimental" film.
The 33-year-old actor stars in the new Dee Rees drama about the unlikely friendship between two World War Two veterans - one black and one white - in Mississippi and Hedlund admitted the biggest challenge was to make the plot and movie "real".
Speaking to C For Men magazine, Hedlund said: "We shot 'Mudbound' in just a handful of weeks in Louisiana. We did our damnedest not to make it sentimental. We wanted it to be real.
"The way Dee works, with these long shots on the actors' faces, you empathise with them. You feel like you're in there in the story with them."
'Mudbound' - which also stars Carey Mulligan, Mary J. Blige and Jason Mitchell - is based on Hillary Jordan's novel of the same name and follows the two vets as they return from battle and find common ground as their families face difficulty in their local community.
Hedlund's co-star Mulligan recently admitted she signed up for the film in the hope the director could turn the story into something "big and epic".
Speaking at the 61st BFI London Film Festival at the Odeon Cinema, in London's Leicester Square, on Thursday (10.05.17), she said: "The reason I wanted to get involved in this film was primarily because I wanted to work with Dee. After reading the book and the script, I wanted to see if Dee could do what the book inspires and make the small, sentimental story into something big and epic."
Blige also admitted she hopes her the movie will make the audience ask questions about racism.
The 46-year-old singer-turned-actress admits some people will want to "hide" from the tough topics tackled in the film but she wants others to delve deeper and explore wider societal issues.
She said: "This is going to have audiences asking themselves some questions, the ones that are ready to face it, not the ones who are ready to hide or continue to hide. I think people are far beyond wanting to hide now, it's all out there and the discussions need to be had, what are we? Who are we? At the end of the day, we are one."