With all these legends around on set, it wouldn’t surprise you to know that it was actually a lot of fun to film. Michael Biehn has been vocal about the movie’s shortcomings, calling it a “bubble gum version” as well as the problems with production, sacking Kevin Jarre, and bringing in George Cosmatos very early on — and even he still reflected on how much fun it was to make.
It wasn’t just the making of the movie that was fun but the film itself. Helped by its excellent script and some equally great performances but some of the world’s best actors. The fun they had on set definitely translated onto the screen, and as Michael Biehn puts it, “By the time it got cut together, and I saw it, I thought it was really good.” The audience clearly felt the fun too as it got a lot of laughs. Perhaps it was the gun twirling or the excellent script that people could quote. The characters enjoyed their roles and played them well, which added to the fun and enjoyment.
A Favorite Character
For Michael Biehn, the role of Johnny Ringo was a chance of a lifetime. He said he loved playing his character and really connected to his personality. It was a challenging role as Johnny was a complex character, though he enjoyed it nevertheless. If he had to rank his favorite parts, Johnny Ringo would have been near the top along with his portrayal of Kyle Reese from "The Terminator". It’s no coincidence that Biehn has a special fondness for these roles, as these two characters actually have a lot in common.
Biehn says that Reese was almost a futuristic version of Johnny Ringo and there were many similarities in their characters. It’s no surprise then that Biehn would connect with these two characters and rank them among his favorite to play. He certainly did the job well as they are two iconic characters from equally legendary movies.
Tombstone Was the “Bubble Gum” Version of a Western
While Michael Biehn had a lot of praise for "Tombstone", he did also have some criticism. The actor recognized the film’s contribution to re-energizing the Western film genre in the early ’90s, but said that the film, “ain’t history”. And even though he enjoyed his role as Johnny Ringo and his time on set, he compared it to “the latest pop hit.” Perhaps he feels that "Tombstone" is a watered-down version of other Western classics?
He does, however, credit Kevin Jarre, who wrote the script. According to Biehn, "Tombstone" was a success because it had a great script and that’s why it was played by such Hollywood greats like Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer. The cast was filled with big names, each of them giving the performance of their careers. These screen legends included Sam Elliott who has since been nominated for an Oscar, Billy Paxton, Billy Zane, Thomas Haden Church, Jason Priestly, Powers Boothe, Frank Stallone, and even Billy Bob Thornton.
(Almost) Everyone Grew Their Own Mustache
You may have realized this when watching the movie, almost the entire male cast have mustaches. Moreover, they are the same kind of mustache that curls up at the end. Michael Biehn explained that the writer, Kevin Jarre, had a vision about how the mustaches should look and that he wanted them to curl up. To do this, you have to grow the mustache long enough, so then you can use wax on the ends to curl it. Perhaps it was for authenticity purposes, but almost everyone grew their own mustache for the film.
Talking about the mustaches, Michael Biehn said that everyone was pretty proud that they grew their own mustache. Jon Tenney, however, was the exception as he had a commitment to another project which required another style of facial hair. As Biehn added, he thought Tenney always felt a little bit like the small dog of the group because it wasn’t his real mustache.
Kevin Jarre Wanted Complete Creative Control
As the writer of a movie script and being the director, you would think that you would have the prerogative to demand things be a certain way. For Kevin Jarre, this was precisely the thing that got him fired off the set of "Tombstone". It couldn’t have been easy losing that vision from the movie, and Michael Biehn describes this as being one of the hardest times.
The cast must have felt the void and certainly felt sad over Jarre’s departure. Every aspect of that movie was envisioned by that director and it is hard not to convey it. He just wanted everything to be the way he imagined it. He was there from script to casting and the early stages of production. He had a hand on everything from saddles and spurs to even mustache length. Ultimately, it was because of his rigidity on the set, that the actors felt so creatively stifled. As a result, Jarre was fired from the movie, and George P. Cosmatos was brought in to replace him.