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Once upon a time, Westerns dominated the film scene the way superhero blockbusters currently crowd the multiplexes. Instead of debating the merits of Batman v Superman, audiences anticipated the next collaboration between John Ford and John Wayne, or reveled in Gary Cooper taking down a town filled with baddies in High Noon.
This weekend, Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) and his frequent collaborator Denzel Washington revive a classic of the genre -- as well as elements of the genre, itself -- with The Magnificent Seven. And during recent press event for the high-octane ensemble Western, I wanted to ask the cast why period Westerns are so hard to pull off in the modern studio system. Peter Sarsgaard, who plays the villain of this piece, broke the reason down to dollars and cents, telling me:
Sarsgaard's co-star, and a Training Day holdover, Ethan Hawke echoes the sentiment of the extreme cost of the Western, saying that the genre has become a victim of the creative cycle -- an opinion recently expressed by none other than Steven Spielberg. Hawke told me:
Vincent D'Onofrio goes one step beyond cost, and says the true effort that has to go into replicating the era is what stops several from taking the plunge on a period Western these days. D'Onofrio tells me:
But when you pull it off, you can get something truly special. The Magnificent Seven remakes Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, which later was remade as a traditional Western starring Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. The remake casts Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio and Peter Sarsgaard in a rough and tumble period thriller. Here are the interviews with the cast members, talking the challenges of filming a Western.
The Magnificent Seven opens in theaters on Sept. 23.