'The Magnificent Seven' cast say the film's diversity was a big lure
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Cast members attend "The Magnificent Seven" premiere during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Thursday, September 8, 2016.
Beyond the fun of saddling up on horses and getting gritty in a western, the stars of "The Magnificent Seven" say the big draw was the diverse cast that's making waves in the industry.
"It wouldn't have been the same movie to me had it been an all-white cast," Peter Sarsgaard, who plays villainous industrialist Bartholomew Bogue, said Thursday in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"I think it really pushed us into a more interesting place. Looking at movies when I was growing up — John Huston movies and stuff like that — a lot of those people were my heroes and they expressed heroic qualities. And the actions of some of the guys in this are meant to be heroic, and you want the people who are looking up to see their heroes to recognize their own face.
"So to me, that's what made this movie truly appealing."
"The Magnificent Seven," directed by Antoine Fuqua, made its world premiere Thursday to open TIFF and is set to hit theatres on Sept. 23.
A remake of the 1960 western (which itself was a remake of the 1954 Japanese-language film "Seven Samurai"), it features a cast that's much more diverse than that of the original and of the genre itself.
"This becomes the new definition of what a western is," Fuqua told a festival press conference on Thursday. "It doesn't have to be one way. You can make a 'Magnificent Seven' about all women. There were some tough women."
Denzel Washington is a striking and powerful presence as the lead gunslinger. The cast also includes Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Haley Bennett, Martin Sensmeier and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo.
They play a ragtag group trying to protect a town from being taken over by Sarsgaard's character in 1878.
"I think that alone is pretty cool, that a movie like 'Magnificent Seven' can be remade with an African-American lead," said D'Onofrio.
"The calibre of actor that Denzel is as well is so important, because representation is a big deal and if he's representing the African-American talent that's out there today, that's a huge thing."
For Bennett, playing a female character who's just as powerful as the men was equally significant.
"There was no female character like this in either Akira Kurosawa's 'Seven Samurai' or 'The Magnificent Seven,' so I think that definitely it represents progress in film and that was really exciting to me, when I read the script," she said.
"I didn't expect the role to be what it was and even after I was cast, it was even more so. We were making a point to drive that home."
But they weren't making a point to highlight the characters' cultural differences.
In fact, the only time the characters address one another's ethnicities is during a scene in which they're all eating at a bar.
"It was something that we talked about but we didn't want to shove it down any throats," said Bennett. "It was something maybe in glances and looks and mistrusting feelings between the farmers, their relationship and how they viewed them without saying it.... And then everyone bonds, everyone forges those bonds."
The Toronto film fest runs through Sept. 18.
- Editor:Albert | Source: The Canadian Press
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