Recently, we spoke with Emmy award winning director and producer Jon Cassar about his newest film. The 24 creator discussed his newest collaboration with star Kiefer Sutherland Forsaken and what it was like to work with the actor again in a Western setting. We talked about the intensity of the films action sequences, the amazing supporting cast to include Michael Wincott, Demi Moore and Aaron Poole, and what it was like to finally see Donald and Kiefer Sutherland working together in a feature film.
Official Synopsis: In 1872, John Henry Clayton (Kiefer Sutherland) retires as a gunfighter and returns to his hometown of Fowler, Wyoming in hope of repairing his relationship with his estranged father, Reverend Clayton (Donald Sutherland). However, he soon learns that the town is in turmoil, as the railroad will be coming through the area and a criminal gang is terrorizing ranchers who refuse to sell their land. John Henry is the only one who can stop them, but his father does not want his son to return to a life of violence.
Fandom: This is the first time Kiefer and his father Donald Sutherland have worked together on screen. How did this come about?
Jon Cassar: I was working for years with Kiefer on 24. One of the things you talk about when you’re on a television show, especially when it’s in its seventh or eighth year, is what you’re gonna do once this thing finished. We always talked about what our big project would be to do together, and a Western was one of them. I think every actor and every director wants to do a Western, it’s just in our blood as creative people. Of course Kiefer had done a couple before and he’s a real cowboy. He’s actually won buckles in rodeos for calf roping, he’s the real deal.
So, we talked about this Western for a long time and he wanted to do a film with his father. It’s something we talked about for years. Then he actually got the script commissioned, it was his story and Brad Mirman wrote the script. Not only was it a great Western, it was also a touching father and son story. A few more years went by after that and we got some production companies in Canada interested. We finally finished 24 and we went out and made a Western.
Fandom: How was it working with Kiefer again on this after having such a long history with him from 24?
Jon Cassar: It was actually great because we do have a shorthand. As a director, you’re there to watch performance and convey back to an actor what he’s doing. That’s something Kiefer and I have been doing for a long time and it was no different on this. Watching Kiefer on a horse was interesting, he’s so good and better than anything I could design. We had one scene where he comes in riding at full speed in the middle of the night. It was just so much fun to watch that happen.
Fandom: Did you find it different at all to direct all of the Western action and stunts compared to your more modern work?
Jon Cassar: What I wanted to do was when the action hit, it was actually a little bit shocking because it was so fast and so hard and violent that it is almost disturbing. That’s what I wanted. People that did this in their normal life within seconds would explode into this crazy violence. To design all that action in a way that came at you fast and bloody just reminded you that as tranquil as these lives may seem, they were always seconds away from bursting into mad violence.
Fandom: You also have Demi Moore in the film for some of the more dramatic moments we see in the story.
Jon Cassar: We had lots of conversations about the type of woman that these Pioneer women were and how strong they were. We actually even had another story where she was ill that got eliminated in post. We just had great conversations before the movie even started. When you get to the floor, because you don’t have a lot of time to talk about it while shooting, you really should be shooting and putting as many takes on camera as you can. She was very professional, really loved what she was doing, had some great insight and was just really wonderful to work with.
Fandom: You also have some great bad guys in the film.
Jon Cassar: Amongst the bad guys, they all need to have their own space in the film. They can’t bump into each other in the film when it comes to characters. It was very clearly defines who everybody was and what their job was in the movie. Aaron Poole just did such an incredible job. He is the guy you love to hate and he couldn’t be a nicer guy. One thing that I loved when I read the script was that the final gunfight is very different than any gunfight that you would see in any old Western.
That was my one sort of modernized thing, because what we set up was Gentleman Dave played by Michael Wincott and Kiefer’s character had such an interesting relationship that by the time you get to that final gunfight, you don’t want either of them to die. I think that was really interesting in the way that Brad wrote this script. You knew that by the time you got there that you didn’t want either of them to win that gunfight, you want them both to walk away. It’s a real crowd pleaser in the screenings I’ve been at and people love it.
Fandom: Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans?
Jon Cassar: There are a lot of young audiences who haven’t seen a Western or have only seen a more modernized Western and I just implore you to give this a chance. Look at it and I think you’ll enjoy it.