Jon Favreau Cowboys and Aliens Interview
In this movie the audience doesn't learn a lot about the ____________ of the aliens.
Jon Favreau: "A Western is the genre that every filmmaker wants to do, and typically since the mid-'70s people have done Westerns more on an independent scale. It hasn't driven the box office as it had in the past. But in reading the script I realized that alien invasion is a genre that gets a lot of success worldwide. By mashing up the two genres it allows us to make something that really we're all passionate about, which is the Western but putting a new twist on it that makes it relevant for audiences who didn't grow up with Westerns. So hopefully it'll cross generations and make it an interesting new twist on something while still paying respect to the classic films that we all grew up with."
Is it tough to get that tone?
Jon Favreau: "Tone is the gig of a director, so I was very pleased today when we showed footage that the crowd reacted like it did. They were patient with the Western and then when the alien movie kicked, they were right with us. So it's a fine line to walk, but I think that's where all films - but Westerns specifically of modern times - tend to run astray."
Can you tell us a little about the alien force that is in this movie? Where do they come from, maybe a little bit about what they look like and what their plan is?
Jon Favreau: "I'll say this, we draw reference to - as far as the alien side of Cowboys & Aliens - I grew up with films like Close Encounters, with Alien, Aliens, another good example, Predator which is on the more actiony side, but all of those films were done where the alien genre verges with horror, so a lot of it is about mystery. You're not learning a lot about the culture of the aliens, it's more about how these aliens appear and affect the people that we introduce to the Western side of things. But if you look at...I use CGI but I try to limit myself to what tools you would have had pre-CGI and then using CGI to help make all of that more realistic. But not show everything full-on right off the bat, but unfold things as the story goes on."
How tough is it not to lose the characters amidst all the aliens and special effects?
Jon Favreau: "Well normally there's a challenge to let the characters pop through when you're dealing with such a high concept film. But when you have Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford and the rest of the cast that we have, even the supporting players are people like Keith Carradine, you know you have Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, these are all great actors who've been leads in their own films, this ensemble really holds it own. In the Western genre it's about character development typically and historically, and so it's really about the progression of these characters as they deal with these challenges."
What was your favorite part about getting to play in the Western genre itself?
Jon Favreau: "Well you know I loved...the best part about working in a Western is how many people are enthusiastic and want to do it because you don't really get the opportunity to. And to have Harrison Ford play a cowboy, it's amazing that he hasn't done it...I think he's only done it once in The Frisco Kid. But he's always played characters that had the influence of the gunfighter. If you look at Han Solo, even who he plays Bob Falfa in America Graffiti or Indiana Jones, those are all cowboys - reinventions of the cowboy. So now to have him play one down the middle with all the gravity that he brings with his career of work, it's like working with an icon. And that really makes it fun. His enthusiasm is infectious as well."
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