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The Western genre is not as mainstream as say comedy or action, and seems to be an acquired taste. But, it makes us think: for those who may not be so keen on stories based in the Wild West, what if one of your favorite actors were to star? And, of course, some viewers do seek out Westerns.

In next week’s release of Slow Cow (March 6), we see Toby Jones (Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy) as an English entrepreneur in 1800s Oregon. Two settlers (Orion Lee, John Magaro) steal his cow’s milk to sell and make a profit.

If Westerns aren’t your go-to, here are movies and TV shows that you might rethink based on the star power:

1. Slow West 

Michael Fassbender (X-Men) portrays an American frontiersman in the 2015 western comedy Slow West. Fassbender meets a young boy from Scotland (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who has traveled to America on his own. The young traveler has followed his first love to America, but he’s not the only one looking for his girl (Caren Pistorius). The young lady has a $2000 bounty on her head. The more seasoned gent (Fassbender) realizes this boy will not make it far without a “chaperone.” The frontier is survival of the fittest where “the most dangerous are the last to fall.”

2. Dark Tower 

In 2017, Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower series was made into a big screen adaptation. Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey star in the leads as Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger, and the Man in Black, respectively. The novel starts off with Roland as he searches for the Dark Tower, in hopes of preserving his magical world, which is falling apart. Tom Taylor plays Jake Chambers, a young man who becomes Roland’s apprentice. The story takes place in both modern-day NYC and Roland’s parallel universe, which mimics the Old West (if not technically in the U.S. or on Earth for that matter).

3. Westworld 

HBO’s Westworld TV series is based on the 1973 movie written and directed by the late Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton. The sci-fi series revolves around a Wild West-themed amusement park, populated by robots. Again, not technically the Wild West, but not everyone at the theme park knows it’s manufactured. The robots are designed to fulfill the customers’ fantasies. It gets a little problematic when one of the robots, Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), learns what she is. Resident Brit Thandie Newton‘s character, also a robot, develops a consciousness and takes matters into her own hands. You can also look for Sir Anthony Hopkins, who plays their maker, Dr. Ford. 

4. 3:10 to Yuma 

In 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma we get a two-for-one deal with both Russell Crowe and Christian Bale starring. Bale plays a rancher who agrees to bring in an outlaw (Crowe) for justice. He has a lot of debt and the collectors have threatened to burn down his house. He’s not offering up his services because it’s his civic duty, there’s a bounty waiting for him at the end of the journey. You can also look for Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol and Ben Foster.

5. The Proposition

2005’s The Proposition is a Western but revolves around Australian frontiersman. That counts, right? Guy Pearce plays an outlaw, who when detained is given a choice. He is asked to kill his older brother (Danny Huston), in order to save his little brother (Richard Wilson) from being executed by hanging. That does not sound like much of a choice but rather an ultimatum. You can also look for John Hurt, Emily Watson and David Wenham. 

6. The Missing 

Cate Blanchett plays a medicine woman in 2003’s The Missing. She reunites with her estranged father (Tommy Lee Jones) when her daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) is kidnapped to be sold into slavery. She’s pretty angry with her father for abandoning her when she was younger, but she needs his help now. He knows the way of the land and can track the kidnappers. Based on Thomas Eidson‘s novel, Ron Howard directs.

7. Cowboys and Aliens 

In the 2011 Western/sci-fi hybrid, Daniel Craig plays a man who wakes up with amnesia. It turns out he’s an outlaw and the authorities are after him. But when the town is taken over by aliens, the sheriff’s priorities shift. They kind of need all of the humans to work together to fight off their uninvited guests. Cowboys and Aliens also stars Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde.

8. Deadwood 

The Deadwood TV series consisted of three seasons, airing from 2004-2006. The show was so liked, it had a second life in 2019 with a two-hour made-for-TV movie. Set ten years after the events of season three, the show’s characters reunite to celebrate South Dakota becoming a state in 1889. The movie sees former rivalries reignited, alliances tested and old wounds reopened. In other words, this lot has some hard feelings.

The series creator David Milch wrote the screenplay for the movie version, with Daniel Minihan directing. You can look for Ian McShane (Lovejoy) to return as Al Swearengen. Other original cast members making their way back include Timothy Olyphant, Molly Parker, Paula Malcomson, John Hawkes, Anna Gunn, Dayton Callie, Brad Dourif, Robin Weigert, William Sanderson, Kim Dickens and Gerald McRaney.

Actually, Anglo favorites or not, these are all sounding like good picks for an at-home streaming session.

Are you going to stream any of these over the weekend? 

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Filed Under: Westerns
By Brigid Brown