Even with the success of his films leading him to be considered the most profitable star in Hollywood, actor Matt Damon has had the odd dud in his time. Some were problematic from the get go, but one or two had the chance to be exceptional and ultimately fell apart along the way.
No film is more fitting with that definition than the Billy Bob Thornton-directed 2000 film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “All The Pretty Horses”. Thornton’s original cut of the film ran over three hours, something that producer Harvey Weinstein was unhappy with.
As a result, Thornton had to cut down the work to a heavily truncated 116 minutes, and replace Daniel Lanois’ original score with one by Marty Stuart. The film then opened to bad reviews and box-office failure, and has since disappeared from any serious conversation. Sixteen years on though, it’s a failure that still haunts Damon. He tells GQ:
“[The 2000 Cormac McCarthy novel adaptation ‘All the Pretty Horses’] failed the critics and failed to find the audience. I’m not over it 18 years later or whatever it is, so I’m just clearly never gonna get over it. It really fucking depresses me. I only saw Billy [Bob Thornton]’s cut once, and I just remember feeling like ‘Oh, my God, this is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of.’ It was Daniel Lanois’ music that did it – it was all Daniel on this old guitar.
I was in Paris working on ‘The Bourne Identity,’ and every night after work, I’d come home and I’d have a conference call with Harvey and Billy Bob. I would pace in this living room in this apartment I’d rented as I was talking to them. Billy’s heart was fucking breaking. [When] he relented, he said, ‘Harvey, I have a chance to do four, maybe five great things before I die. And what I’m hearing you say to me is this isn’t gonna be one of them.’ And my knees literally buckled.”
In the years since, Weinstein has offered to restore Thornton’s vision and release the movie. Unfortunately there’s one big problem – Daniel Lanois himself. The composer has principles according to Thornton:
“They did offer us the opportunity to put [my cut] out on DVD with the original music. But Dan felt like, ‘If my music wasn’t good enough for them to put in the movie, then I don’t know if I wanna put it in there on the DVD,’ so I stood by him. I’m not gonna ever go side against an artist.”
Harvey Weinstein adds “time softens everyone. It’s time to re-approach him” which suggests maybe the full version will finally see the light sometime in the future.