Van Redin
EW Staff
December 05, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

All the Pretty Horses

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
117 minutes
Wide Release Date
12/25/00
performer
Penelope Cruz, Matt Damon, Henry Thomas, Lucas Black, Ruben Blades, Bruce Dern, Sam Shepard
director
Billy Bob Thornton
Producers
Columbia Pictures, Miramax
distributor
Miramax, Sony Pictures Entertainment
author
Ted Tally
genre
Drama, Western

We gave it a D+

How did Thornton — a low-key guy who’s directed only movies from his own scripts — approach one of the most popular novels of the last decade? ”I apologized to [Cormac McCarthy] in advance,” he admits. ”I just said, ‘Look, we’re going to screw your book up’…. He’s totally fine with that and understands that he’s given it up to Hollywood.”

What McCarthy’s given up is a textured coming of age Western, set in the 1940s, in which John Grady (Damon, in a role originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio) and his sidekick (Thomas) head south of the Texas border seeking adventure. The two wind up taming horses on a ranch where John falls for the boss’ spirited daughter (Cruz).

At one point during production, ”the heads of Sony came to visit and Matt Damon and I staged a phony argument,” Thornton recalls. ”I was literally chasing Matt down the road and telling him to get out of there, I would put a stand-in on the horse! They bought it all the way until finally the whole crew turned toward them and said, ‘Welcome to New Mexico!”’ GOOD SIGN Thornton has reteamed with much of his key ”Sling Blade” crew. THEN AGAIN It’s taken years to get ”Horses” out of the gate.

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