Movie Fact #194 - April 30th, 2021
The 2008 film Appaloosa was the second directorial outing for actor Ed Harris and like his first effort (the 2000 biopic Pollock), he also starred in Appaloosa as Virgil Cole. He particularly wanted to make the film because he was drawn to the "unspoken comradeship" of Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, who was played by Viggo Mortensen. Harris elaborated:
"Though they've been hanging out for years, they're not too intimate, but they know each other. Aside from in sports, or being a cop, I can't think of any other situation where a friendship like that is called for."
Harris enjoyed working with Mortensen in 2005's A History of Violence and had him in mind for the part of Everett Hitch. While they were publicizing A History of Violence at the Toronto International Film Festival, Harris handed Mortensen a copy of the novel and asked him to read it and consider playing the part. Harris felt it was "a totally awkward proposition, handing another actor a book like that," but Mortensen agreed to take the part after responding well to the character and the relationship dynamic between the two characters. Mortensen felt similarly as Harris about the characters' relationship, saying:
"I like to ride horses, and I like Westerns, but there are a lot of bad ones. What set this one apart is just how the characters are a little more guarded."
The result was a solid Western in a time where the genre had all but died out as a regular stable of Hollywood studios. Though, in the 2010's, Westerns saw a massive resurgence so perhaps Harris was a prophet to recognize the value of the story. Stay tuned!