Kilmer On How Kurt Russell Saved “Tombstone”

Despite there being a single name on the tin, some films contain the obvious influence of someone else helping steer the ship. “Poltergeist” may be a Tobe Hooper film, but it’s Steven Spielberg through and through. “American History X” is a Tony Kaye film, but Ed Norton had a big influence on the final theatrical version.

Now, actor Val Kilmer has revealed that another iconic film classic became what it was due to the influence of someone other than its director. In this case, the film is “Tombstone” and the person is its leading man Kurt Russell.

The 1993 western about the gunfight at the OK Corral starred Russell as Wyatt Earp and Kilmer in one of his most iconic roles as Doc Holliday. Up until now, the story has been that the film’s late screenwriter Kevin Jarre was set to direct and was replaced a month into production after it became too much for him. George P. Cosmatos then took over as the director to get things back on track.

Now, in a lengthy blog post yesterday, Kilmer revealed that while that’s still true, it was Russell that worked his ass off to salvage what Jarre had done in that first month. He helped the film so much that when Cosmatos came aboard, with only two days prep, he wouldn’t fall behind schedule because the studio wouldn’t allow for any delays:

“Kurt is solely responsible for Tombstone’s success, no question. I was there every minute and although Kurt’s version differs slightly from mine, the one thing he’s totally correct about is how hard he worked the day before, for the next day’s shot list, and tremendous effort he and I both put into editing, as the studio [Hollywood Pictures] wouldn’t give us any extra time to make up for the whole month we lost with the first director.

I watched Kurt sacrifice his own role and energy to devote himself as a storyteller, even going so far as to draw up shot lists to help our replacement director, George Cosmatos, who came in with only two days prep.

I was very clear and outspoken about what I wanted to do with my role, and actors like Powers Boothe, who we just lost, and Bill Paxton, were always 100% supportive, even in the blistering heat and sometimes as the day would fade, at the possible expense of their own screen time. I would even go up to [Russell] and whisper, ‘Go for another…’ meaning another take when I thought he could go further, but in the interest of the schedule, he would pound on…

I have such admiration for Kurt as he basically sacrificed lots of energy that would have gone into his role, to save the film. Everyone cared, don’t get me wrong, but Kurt put his money where his mouth was, and not a lot of stars extend themselves for the cast and crew. Not like he did.”

Russell has previously admitted he did help out behind the scenes quite a bit. After making a brief cameo in “Song to Song” earlier this year, Kilmer will next be seen on the big screen in this Fall’s “The Snowman”.

Source: Heat Vision