The western has been making a comeback lately, and director Antoine Fuqua is about to shake things up with his bold re-telling of The Magnificent Seven. And now, thanks to a brand new batch of featurettes, we’re finally getting an inside look into this group of heroic rogues.
Leading the cast is Hollywood acting legend Denzel Washington as warrant officer and bounty hunter Sam Chisholm, who is roped into protecting the town of Rose Crick by the widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett). Describing his character Washington said, “he’s a master with his weapons, he’s courageous, he’s the man.”
Not only does Washington appear to be paying homage to Yul Brynner’s Chris Adams in appearance and demeanour, but the casting of an African-American bounty hunter is also a great historical nod to real life bounty hunter Bass Reeves, who is regarded as the greatest Texas Ranger that ever lived.
It wouldn’t be a western without a wild card, and Fuqua definitely found his with rising A-lister Chris Pratt, as quick draw gambler and womaniser Josh Farraday. “Farraday a bit of a fox,” says Pratt. “He’s a trickster. He’s a gambler, drinker. He loves the ladies. But he’s deadly in a firefight.”
Pratt definitely has the flair that Steve McQueen possessed in the original 1960s film, and his presence as a performer certainly won over Washington, with the Hollywood legend stating that he “liked him a lot.”
While Washington and Pratt might be leading the pack, Fuqua has pulled in some awesome supporting players for the Seven including his Training Day collaborator Ethan Hawke, who has taken on the role of burnt-out Confederate sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux. “One of the great things about my character is that he’s not a hero. He’s suffering from his demons, he’s superstitious, and everybody thinks he’s this great guy, and he wants to be that person,” says Hawke.
This is definitely Hawke as we’ve never seen him before, and from the moment we heard he was cast we were amped to see him back with Washington. It definitely looks like it has worked out, and we’re intrigued to see where Hawke takes us as Robicheaux.
Fuqua has also moved to make his adaptation more historically accurate, and that lead him to bring in Lee Byung-hun as blade master and assassin Billy Rocks, who will not only represent the American West’s Asian history, but will bring a steely-eyed anti-hero presence to the Seven. From the footage we’ve seen so far, Byung-hun has a certain ‘Man with No Name’ silence and cool about him, along with some seriously deadly martial arts skills. Fuqua commented on Byung-hun’s casting saying “he’s like a ballet dancer. He’s very athletic and very regal. And I said this guy’s like Bruce Lee.”
Following his successful re-invention on TV as Wilson Fisk in Netflix’s Daredevil, Vincent D’Onofrio has gone from villain to hero as tracker Jack Horn in what will be a very memorable role. Horn is the Seven’s resident mountain man who’s clad in furs and pelts, and carries a sizeable tomahawk with him. But while he may be a Grizzly Bear of a man, D’Onofrio is clearly not limited by his character’s physical appearance, and has crafted a very interesting man to capture the audience’s attention. Speaking about D’Onofrio’s performance, Fuqua said “he was just a bear, and he had a faith, that’s what his character had developed into.”
The Seven are definitely rough around the edges, but none of them are as crazy as Mexican outlaw bandit Vasquez, who is played with great charisma by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. This pistol twirling wildman is someone you want on your side, and Garcia-Rulfo really made an impression on Fuqua. “During the dress rehearsal he would walk in, and take the guns out and just spin them. He was like a bullfighter,” said Fuqua.
Finally, rounding out this batch of heroic rogues is Comanche warrior Red Harvest, played by newcomer Martin Sensmeier. While Sensmeier has some big shoes to fill, this new kid was clearly up to the task, winning over Fuqua and the rest of the cast as the noble and proud Native American warrior. Of what audiences can expect from the character Sensmeier kept it short and sweet, “Red Harvest: he’s just a regular badass.”
The Magnificent Seven rides into theatres on September 23 in the US and UK and on September 29 in New Zealand and Australia.