'Magnificent Seven': 7 things you didn't know
SINGAPORE – The Magnificent Seven, set to hit theaters September 21 in the Philippines, is a story about redemption, right and wrong, and social injustice.
It pits 7 outlaws, defenders of the small town of Rose Creek, against a huge army led by the devious industrialist Bartholomew Bogue. Bogue and his men have been controlling Rose Creek, and the people are suffering.
The men are not cookie-cutter heroes. They are flawed and scarred, with their own motives and intentions for joining leader Sam Chisolm in protecting Rose Creek.
And when the battle is done, it isn't certain who'll be left standing.
The popular 1960 film of the same name by John Sturges was an iconic western in turn adapted from Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa's resonant and influential Seven Samurai (1954).
The new Magnificent Seven, helmed by Training Day filmmaker Antoine Fuqua, honors both films, but shows us an updated take on the classic story. Here are just a few fun facts about the movie:
Casting Byung-Hun Lee
Korean superstar Byung-Hun Lee was the best at stunts, says director Antoine Fuqua. Antoine says he had admired Byung-Hun for a while before actually working with him.
"He’s so elegant. In fact, when he would come into the room sometimes, when we first were doing dress rehearsals and doing stunts, Denzel would lean over and go, 'Stay away from that guy. That guy’s like the coolest guy in the room.' He was just the coolest guy in the room and so we would work really closely together on all the stunts," said Antoine in a Singapore press conference.
Because he sometimes found it hard to pronounce BH’s name, Antoine took to calling him Mr Lee, or BH, at Byung-Hun's own suggestion.
Byung-Hun plays Billy Rocks, an expert on lightning fast knifework.
Antoine has a funny story about casting Ethan Hawke (Goodnight Robicheaux). "He literally grabbed me and put me against the wall and said, ‘If you do this effin’ movie without me I’ll kill you.’ So I was like, ‘Don’t worry, you’re in,'’ recalled Antoine.
Trying to cast Chris Pratt, who plays Faraday, Antoine got on the phone with the Jurassic World star. Antoine says Chris started singing "Oh Shenandoah," an old western song.
"Chris was, you know, he had so many offers and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get Chris or not. But ironically, when I got Chris on the phone – I was in my office, they said, 'Okay, Chris is on the phone, wants to talk to you about Magnificent Seven. As soon as I picked up the phone he started singing “Oh Shenandoah,” this old Western song. He just starts singing. And I knew he was in. So it really kind of came together," he said.
Antoine and Denzel
This is the 3rd Antoine-Denzel collaboration after Training Day and The Equalizer.
A respected industry veteran, Denzel lends weight to the role of Sam Chisolm, leader of the Magnificent Seven.
Antoine says, "I learned something from Denzel which I try to take into my life. He said, 'A sheepherder leads from behind, not always in front.' And I thought that was very humble of a man of his stature to say that."
The Magnificent Seven boasts a strong cast, including Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt, Byung-hun Lee, Vincent d'Onofrio, Native American star Martin Sensmeier, and Mexican-American actor Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. A diverse cast was essential to creating the film.
“Denzel and I sat and talked about it. We started reading all the books about the West and how diverse it was then. There were people from everywhere in the world – Mexico, Ireland, Russia. I thought, ‘I wanna see THAT West,” says Antoine.
“It’s very cool to have these amazing actors that you don’t normally see in this genre, I thought that was really unique and contemporary. I got really excited about that contemporary feel yet sticking with tradition.”
A gift from James
In Magnificent Seven, you’ll hear the work of the late composer James Horner, Antoine’s dear friend. James died in a plane crash in 2015. Though he never saw the movies, he wrote the score as a surprise for Antoine before he died. It’s one of his final creations.
Simon Franglen, James Horner’s longtime programmer and arranger, ended up finishing the rest of what James had already started. (READ: The late James Horner's touching surprise for 'Magnificent Seven' director Antoine Fuqua)
The filmmaker Akira Kurosawa is a major influence on Antoine, who encountered Kurosawa’s work long before becoming a director.
Antoine says the film resonated with him and transformed his thinking.
"And watching how Kurosawa crafted the story and the compositions and the action for the final battle and the idea that – because I grew up poor and there's always the influence of bullies, you know, when you grow up, whether it be gangs or anything," says Antoine.
"And when I saw the warlords that came in and took the people’s rice and it reminded me of a world that I know, in a strange way, of what that means when people come in and take something that doesn’t belong to them. And it just kind of blew me away."
That he's able to make Magnificent Seven today, makes his work that much more meaningful.
Will you be seeing #Mag7 when it hits theaters? Tell us what you think in the comments below. – Rappler.com