A remake of the classic western The Magnificent Seven has been in the making for some years now – and at one point, Tom Cruise was onboard to headline the film, with a supporting cast that was rumored to include Matt Damon, Kevin Costner, and Morgan Freeman, all of whom have appeared in noteworthy westerns in the past. The project has evolved a good deal since then and is now set to arrive in September 2016, with Denzel Washington headlining the movie and the Oscar-winner’s Training Day and The Equalizer collaborator, Antoine Fuqua at the helm. The film’s cast is rounded out by such notable character actors as Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World star Chris Pratt, as well as Washington’s Training Day costar Ethan Hawke.
MGM/Sony will reportedly unveil the first theatrical trailer for The Magnificent Seven tomorrow (Wednesday, at the time of writing this). In the meantime, we can offer the first images from the film – which, likes it predecessor, tells the story of seven outlaws from the Old West who are recruited to protect a small town – providing a sneak peek at Washington and his costars in the movie, including what could be the true breakout star of Fuqua’s western: Washington’s mutton chops.
USA Today, which is also reporting that the first Magnificent Seven trailer will arrive online on Wednesday, interviewed Fuqua about his western remake. The director noted that Washington raised eyebrows when he showed up at the 2015 Manny Pacquiao -Floyd Mayweather fight having already begun to grow his facial hair for the film – adding, “I was saying to myself, ‘Wait till they see him in full glory.’ He looks great. Denzel just locked into that look.” Washington isn’t the only Magnificent Seven cast member with significant facial hair either, as Hawke also boasts a thick goatee in the film – while costar Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil) grew a rather impressive beard for his role, as you can see in the images from the movie, included below.
Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven also boasts a refreshingly diverse lineup of actors as the eponymous gun-slingers (who are pictured together, above), including the Mexican actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series), Native American actor Martin Sensmeier (Salem), and South Korean actor Byung-hun Lee (RED 2, Terminator Genisys), in addition to Washington, Hawke, Pratt, and D’Onofrio. Fuqua confirmed to USA Today that he wanted a cast that better reflected the actual variety in ethnicity of people who lived in the old American west – something that wasn’t generally depicted in Hollywood films of the western’s golden era (read: around the mid-20th century). However, he also aimed to put together a worthy group of successors to the original 1960 Magnificent Seven‘s lineup – a crew which included screen icons like Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson, among others. As Fuqua put it:
“These guys are gunslingers, and when they walk into the room, you notice
them. These are people you want to be with, or you want to protect you.”
The remake of The Magnificent Seven – itself, a western-ized version of Akira Kurosawa’s classic film Seven Samurai – was co-witten by John Lee Hancock (Snow White and the Huntsman) and Richard Wenk (The Equalizer), based on an earlier script draft that was penned by True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto. Fuqua has never directed a western before, though he’s long specialized in making the modern equivalent to the genre; namely, urban-based lone gunman thrillers such as Shooter, Olympus Has Fallen, and The Equalizer, along with other gritty R-Rated genre movies of a similar tone (see Southpaw). Between that and the remake’s notable lineup of acting talent, there’s fair reason to hope that The Magnificent Seven could be a worthwhile addition to the western genre – one that has the type of cross-over appeal that other recent westerns have failed to achieve, at that.