How Antoine Fuqua got Denzel Washington to saddle up for Magnificent Seven
I love a good western flick and one my my favourites, if not the favourite, is John Sturges' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN. It's a simple story of good guys vs bad guys but the stellar cast of Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Horst Buchholz, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter and Eli Wallach turned it into something very special. Antoine Fuqua's remake of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN hits theaters later this year and boasts an equally impressive cast, but will it be one of the few remakes to succeed where so many have fallen short? Who knows, but I've got my fingers crossed.
The conversation came around about actors, and I said, "For me, the event would be to see Denzel Washington on a horse." [The producers] all kind of paused in the room. They asked, "You think he would do it? Because he hasn't done a Western." I said I'd fly to New York and talk to him.
I had lunch with him in New York, and he kind of smiled when I said, "It's a Western." And I started describing to him what I saw in my head of him coming over a hill on a white horse. I had some Sergio Leone music on my phone that I played as I started describing it to him. He kind of laughed, and he goes, "All right, let me read it."
I'm sure I'm not alone in my love for THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and Antoine Fuqua knows that his remake needs to show respect for the first film as well as satisfying the fond memories of those who enjoy it, including himself.
I kept reminding myself of when I was a 12‑year‑old boy, when I was a kid watching it with my grandmother, what was the feeling I had? How much fun was it? How cool were they? For me, I always had my grandmother in my mind when making a film. Would she enjoy this film?
James Horner was set to compose the score for Fuqua's THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN but the pair didn't get to discuss it all that much before his tragic death. Then, Horner's team contacted Antoine Fuqua to reveal that the composer had left him a special gift, seven songs for the film.
James passed away when I was three weeks, four weeks in. We didn't get a chance to talk about the music much. We had talked about it when I was making Southpaw. After he died, his team called me and said that he had left me a gift. James had all these toys from around the world that he kept in a room in his house. So I thought the gift was one of those things. But they said he wrote seven songs that he was going to surprise me with. He wrote them off the script. They played it for me, and it was just glorious. It was a tough shoot. So I'd play his music for the crew on the speaker, and it just inspired everybody how important the movie was.
Our own Chris Bumbray will be attending TIFF '16, so expect a boatload of reviews, including one for THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, to follow during the coming weeks. THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN will ride into theaters on September 23, 2016.
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