Cowboys 0, Aliens 143 (...But don't worry, the good guys have a better second half)

The bizarre new blockbuster with 007, Indiana Jones and Steven Spielberg

The people behind Cowboys & Aliens (including producers Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard) are hoping the combination of two of the industry's oldest and most popular genres has resulted in something, well, new

The people behind Cowboys & Aliens (including producers Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard) are hoping the combination of two of the industry's oldest and most popular genres has resulted in something, well, new

Cowboys and aliens. It sounds ridiculous. Like a five-year-old boy’s idea of a film.

But conversely, that’s the beauty of it. Because take that inner-child part of yourself that – admit it – would love to watch cowboys fighting aliens, then add Indiana Jones and Bond, and it’s irresistible.

The £100 million Cowboys & Aliens is directed by Jon Favreau, formerly of the successful Iron Man franchise.

In a marketplace crowded with superhero films and 3D extravaganzas, it’s getting harder and harder for Hollywood to come up with a true event movie – the people behind this one (including producers Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard) are hoping the combination of two of the industry’s oldest and most popular genres has resulted in something, well, new.

Daniel Craig plays mysterious gunslinger Jake Lonergan and Harrison Ford is Woodrow Dolarhyde, the colonel who runs the New Mexican town of Absolution with an iron fist

Daniel Craig plays mysterious gunslinger Jake Lonergan and Harrison Ford is Woodrow Dolarhyde, the colonel who runs the New Mexican town of Absolution with an iron fist

‘I’ve always wanted to play a cowboy,’ laughs Daniel Craig, who plays mysterious gunslinger Jake Lonergan.

‘I saw the title, Cowboys & Aliens, and thought, “What the hell is this?” You think, “OK, it’s going to be a send-up, it’s going to be something funny.” But actually the script read straight.’

Olivia Wilde plays Ella Swenson in the £100 million film

Olivia Wilde plays Ella Swenson in the £100 million film

It took more to persuade Harrison Ford to play Woodrow Dolarhyde, the colonel who rules the New Mexican town of Absolution with an iron fist. Ford read the first 30 pages, threw the script across the room and told his agent, ‘There’s nothing in this for me.’

His agent convinced him to finish reading it, and although he still didn’t like it, he thought playing an unlikeable character would be a healthy departure for him.

‘The starting place in this film is the Western, and then aliens come and bad things happen,’ says Ford.

‘After the aliens have come and shown what good fun they can bring to the party, it still has to be a Western.’

Craig certainly relished the opportunity to bear arms.

‘I did a lot of practice with the guns,’ he says. ‘I took a gun and a belt home with me and I was literally practising when I was watching TV, when I was eating, everything.’

Ford took to it with similar zeal.

‘Dolarhyde starts out as a very rough guy,’ he says. ‘It would have been a mistake to try to curry favour with the audience, to try to make him more of a sympathetic character. I didn’t feel that requirement to explain, to make amends for him. He’s the bastard that he is and that’s his role.’

As well as having a fun concept, it was also, by all accounts, a fun movie to make.

A UFO attacks the Wild West

A UFO attacks the Wild West

‘The parties were either at my house,’ says Favreau, ‘because I had the kids and the pool, or if they were night parties they were at Daniel’s, because he had the tequila.’

‘I don’t know what he’s talking about!’ claims Craig, laughing.

Ford says, ‘Many of the characters I have played have been informed by Western archetypes. Han Solo is a gunslinger. Indiana Jones also has a degree of a Western about it. So it’s what I grew up doing. I was always ambitious to make a Western and I’m glad I finally got the chance.’

Cowboys and aliens. Ridiculous? Absolutely. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

‘Cowboys & Aliens’ is out on August 17

OTHER UNLIKELY MOVIE MASH-UPS

 BILLY THE KID VS DRACULA (1966)

The outlaw defends his fiancée from the clutches of Dracula.

HERCULES IN NEW YORK (1969)

Arnold Schwarzenegger is Hercules, who gets bored up on Olympus and moves to NYC.

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (1996)

Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney are two criminals on the run. Then the vampires come out to play.

REAL STEEL (2011)

Hugh Jackman trains his robot to punch bigger robots… in a boxing ring. The studio thinks it could be the next Rocky.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (2013)

Jane Austen meets George Romero in this upcoming adaptation of the hit book. Apparently it will be 85 per cent Austen’s text; 15 per cent flesh-eating corpses. Surreal.


 

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