Classic Westerns are filled with familiar situations and characters — ironhanded sheriffs and outlaws, and clannish townsfolk who fear the Indians and distrust outsiders. Cowboys & Aliens, based on a graphic novel series, has all of these, and more. As the title of the film suggests, the Southwest town of Absolution ain’t seen nothing yet!
Producer Ron Howard was sold on making the film from the comic’s cover art, showing a cowboy on horseback fleeing from a spaceship hovering above him. “It was everything I hoped for: the coolest version of the West meeting some badass aliens,” Howard says of the story. “It’s the West with all its tensions. It was cool for me to see characters who would have been shooting at one another a few days before suddenly forced to try and survive together.”
Jon Favreau (Iron Man) caught the alien bug and signed on for the challenge of directing the genre-blending film. He chose Daniel Craig, best known for being the most recent James Bond, to star as an amnesiac who holds the key to defeating the invaders. Craig — a fan of films such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Blade Runner and Alien — watched as many Westerns as he could, then fell into the role. “I’m in the desert and I’m wearing chaps,” Craig says. “I rode on a horse every day and I got paid to do it, so I couldn’t have been happier.”
Craig’s costar Harrison Ford, who plays the town leader, says that settlers and Indians alike would have no idea what was occurring when the invasion happens. “The only possible context is the one that was given to them by the preacher in town. The aliens were possibly demons and remained demons throughout the telling of the story.”
“Cowboys & Aliens” is available starting Dec. 6 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2011 Universal Studios