Michael Biehn shoots down rumor Kurt Russell directed Tombstone

Michael Biehn is taking a stand against the rumors that Kurt Russell directed 1993’s Tombstone, saying it was a “committee”.


The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral lasted under one minute and took place over 140 years ago. Tombstone, which dramatizes said gunfight, was made just over 30 years ago and already has more mystery to it. We may know who killed who that October day in Arizona, but there’s still some discrepancies over who truly directed 1993’s Tombstone. One thing’s for sure: Michael Biehn knows it wasn’t Kurt Russell…despite what Kurt Russell may say.

Speaking on Michael Rosenbaum on Inside of You, Biehn – who played outlaw Johnny Ringo – tried to once again shut down the rumors that Russell was the true director of Tombstone. “I get so f’in’ tired of people asking me if Kurt Russell directed the movie…Kurt Russell did not direct the movie. Kurt Russell was responsible for getting the movie off the ground. I never would have played Johnny Ringo if it wasn’t for Kurt Russell. And I told you last time I was here, I love Kurt Russell. He’s a great, great person and a great movie star.”

So, who is the person responsible? According to the credits it’s George P. Cosmatos, who actually replaced writer Kevin Jarre. But there might not be one person who can be called director on Tombstone after all. “It was directed by kind of a committee”, Biehn continued. “[Jarre] shoots five weeks, they throw all that stuff away…And then George Cosmatos takes over…and we shoot for another month or six weeks…Everybody had a hand in it but a lot of the stuff got cut out of the movie before we got a chance to shoot it!”

Kurt Russell, it turns out, was pulling double duty all along. In addition to playing Wyatt Earp, he was doing a lot behind the scenes as well, using time the day before a shoot to work on composition and blocking. This would later be backed up by Val Kilmer (Doc Holliday), who wrote in 2017, “I watched Kurt sacrifice his own role and energy to devote himself as a storyteller, even going so far as to draw up shot lists to help our replacement director, George Cosmatos, who came in with only two days prep.” It should be noted that Kilmer doesn’t explicitly say that Russell was the director of Tombstone, but we can kind of read between the lines here…

We may never know who really deserves director credit on Tombstone, but we do know that it stands as one of the finest westerns of the ‘90s. Now, if we can just get that 4K release

Source: Inside of You

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Mathew is an East Coast-based writer and film aficionado who has been working with JoBlo.com periodically since 2006. When he’s not writing, you can find him on Letterboxd or at a local brewery. If he had the time, he would host the most exhaustive The Wonder Years rewatch podcast in the universe.