This week we were all sad to hear of the death of Robert B Parker, the man who gave us Cole and Hitch and hours of pleasure here at V-W through his books Appaloosa, Resolution and Brimstone and (of course) though Ed Harris's film adaption of Appaloosa, which Parker loved. Parker's sparse dialogue - always saying much with little - and Harris's leisurely adaption, which gave the actors plenty of room to fully inhabit these two wonderful characters, finally made me love the Western. I thought it would be fitting this week to remember Parker and to take a look back at how two of the Western genre's greatest partners were brought to life.
© Warner Brothers.
Harris first read Parker's novel during a trip to Ireland in the summer of 2005, where his daughter was competing in an equestrian event. He placed an overseas call to his agent to see about acquiring the film rights. Harris later met with Parker over dinner in Boston to discuss the project.
"In my opinion Ed Harris is one of the best actors now working, and from a distance he always struck me as a man who paid little attention to guff, so I was honored by his interest," Parker wrote in a 2007 article published in the New York Times.
Ed Harris' Appaloosa
By Tom Wilmes
"It was just a character-driven piece, they could have been two guys in the service, two cops in a car, a couple of athletes, and I still would have been drawn to it. It just happens that the relationship between these two men takes place in the West, and they are these lawmen and it's 1882."
Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris gab about garb, camaraderie in Appaloosa
By Susan Wloszczyna
2 October 2008
Ed Harris got a hold of the book in Toronto, while promoting A History of Violence. He gave it to me, and I loved the characters, the dialogue, the tension...so I accepted to become part of the project, without any hesitation."
Viggo Mortensen Brings The Law Of Appaloosa To Madrid
By Jose Arce - translated by Graciela
20 November 2008
Appaloosa, the movie, is now available on DVD. Since I had nothing to do with it once they bought the book, I can say without false modesty, that it is one of the best movies I have ever seen.
Robert B Parker's Blog
32 April 2009
In Appaloosa, Mortensen's a gun for hire, deputy to actor-director Ed Harris's marshal. "Sort of like a lethal butler" is how Mortensen sees his character, Everett Hitch. But you won't hear Hitch saying ain't like the rest of them: He's a West Point man--though without a doubt, the black sheep of the family. Or that's how Mortensen imagines him.
The Great Dane
By Phoebe Eaton
"I like characters who find themselves at the brink of change. Everett is in the centre of the transition from anarchy to civil law in America. My characters always stand for crossing a ford. Years ago, Everett studied at West Point but I love imagining him as the black sheep of the family because he has gone West, looking for adventure and he has found it. In the book he says: I'd been in West Point, like my father, but I found it boring. While the hairstyle, gun, saddlebag, riding positions are based on the photos of that period; it was me who added the dandy touches to him; the gilet, the Victorian manners, formalistic as well as brutal, he can't erase them."
Appaloosa - 5 Questions For Viggo Mortensen
By Antonella Catena - translated by Ewa
16 January 2009
"I think Cole trusts Hitch more than anyone else in the world, specifically because Hitch is very honest with him, even when it's difficult to bring certain things to Cole's attention," says the actor. "That is my definition of a good friend: somebody who is brave enough to tell you the truth even when it's not what you want to hear."
"Cole and Hitch are not that far removed from the 'outlaws' that they're up against. There's not much difference between them in some moments; they both have displays of temper and violence."
One of the things that will make Everett Hitch an iconic western hero is not his selflessness, his skill or integrity... It's his gun. You see, Hitch's weapon of choice is an 8-gauge shotgun. You heard me right, 8-gauge. I didn't even know a shotgun that large existed and Hitch carries the telephone pole-sized cannon the entire movie. When he uses it, your jaw will hit the ground.
The Small Town Critic
1 October 2008
" ....I like this one because it's told in a leisurely pace. I enjoyed being in it because Ed didn't try to reinvent the genre or appeal to younger audiences. He said, 'This is how these stories are told, and I'm going to respect the genre.'"
Play It As It Lays
By Philip Berk
Mortensen said he was hooked by the dynamics between the two men. They love each other, said Harris, even if they might never say those exact words. It's a deep, complex friendship, though don't expect it to unravel like the one between the cowboys in Brokeback Mountain.
Said Mortensen: "They cut those scenes."
Appaloosa: TIFF press conference diaries
by Mark Medley
September 05, 2008
Watching Viggo Mortensen positioning himself in grand style in the preparation for the climactic shootout offers visual pleasure as well as reaffirmation of a code of honor that may be too mythical but helps maintain the tradition of the Westerner as a gentleman guided by strong inner conscience and sense of self.
7 September 2008
Their bond [between Cole and Hitch] is easily one of the best portrayed in the entire Western canon. Viggo Mortensen's Hitch outdoes Val Kilmer's role as Doc Holliday, something I wouldn't have thought possible. And the interactions between these two extremely efficient killers and decent men is movie-making magic.
9 January 2009
"I can't lie to you, I had a lot of fun riding around on horseback..."
CBS News Interview
8 September 2008