Martin Mcdonagh understands the backlash of having a likeable racist police man in 'Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri'.

The 47-year-old filmmaker helmed the new comedy/drama starring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell - who plays the racist police officer Jason Dixon.

And despite the film receiving critical acclaim, there has been a number of comments regarding Rockwell's likeable character but McDonagh said the film isn't ''your typical Hollywood story about heroes and villains''.

Speaking to The Times newspaper, McDonagh said: ''I understand what the backlash is about, the minor backlash that it's having in certain places. But I just feel that it doesn't really see the nuance of the story. This isn't your typical Hollywood story about heroes and villains. It's something a bit more messy and hopefully, more interesting.''

The film follows the months after the murder of teenager Angela (Kathryn Newton) and there is still no culprit.

As a result, her mother Mildred Hayes (McDormand) makes a bold move by painting three signs leading into the town with controversial messages directed at police chief William Willoughby (Harrelson).

When Willoughby's second-in-command Officer Jason Dixon (Rockwell) gets involved, the battle is only exacerbated.

Both McDormand and Rockwell were nominated and won the Golden Globe for their roles in the movie and McDonagh admitted his lead actress was ''the secret''.

He said: ''Frances is the secret, to be honest.

''My other two films didn't have a woman at the centre. But it's not just that it's a female lead, it's that it's such a strong one, and with such sadness to her backstory.''

Although not writing for a female character before in his previous films - 'In Bruges' and 'Seven Psychopaths' - McDonagh didn't find it difficult because he is a man.

He said: ''I don't think so. But I do think that you have to think outside your male brain when you're trying to write a really strong female character.

''If you've got empathy and humanity and some kind of skill then, hopefully, you'll be able to come up with someone like Mildred.''