Tombstone Was Mostly Directed by Kurt Russell Claims Val Kilmer

Val Kilmer recently wrote a blog post in regard to the high amount of questions that he was receiving about the movie Tombstone, which some have deemed the Godfather of western movies. Among those questions that were asked, one topic kept coming back up as it has over the years. The topic in question refers to who really directed the movie after writer-director Kevin Jarre was fired from the position, which was early on in the production of the movie. Jarre was replaced by Rambo 2 director George Cosmatos, but there has always been speculation that Kurt Russell put forth the most energy to the project.

As it turns out, Russell did a lot more work than probably anybody else on the project according to Kilmer’s official website. Val Kilmer starts off his blog post by saying that Russell made the movie happen. He explains.

“Kurt is solely responsible for Tombstone‘s success, no question.”

Val Kilmer claims to have been there every step of the way and says although his story may differ slightly from Russell’s, both stories come up with the same conclusion: Russell did the lion’s share of the work. Kilmer had this to say.

“We lost our first director after a month of shooting and 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 2 days prep.”

Val Kilmer even moved in with Kurt Russell while they were making the movie so that they could work an “extra 20 minutes” on the project before crashing out for 4 hours and then getting up to hit the set. It sounds like the whole cast and crew worked really hard to get the movie made, going above and beyond what a normal crew would take. Kilmer doesn’t explicitly say that Russell directed the movie, but Russell has said in the past that he did.

Kurt Russell basically said the same thing when asked about Tombstone in a 2006 interview with True West Magazine. Russell said that he did not want to have his name attached as director and that they essentially hired a “ghost director.” Russell explains.

“I backed the director; the director got fired, so we brought in a guy to be a ghost director. They wanted me to take over the movie. I said, ‘I’ll do it, but I don’t want to put my name on it. I don’t want to be the guy.’”

The actor went on to say that he worked day and night, sleeping 4 hours a night to get the movie made. In the end, he wished that he would have been able to edit the movie because he thinks that it could have been even better.

Tombstone was released at the end of 1993 to mostly favorable reviews and has stood up as a western classic in the 24 years since its initial release. Critics praised and continue to praise Val Kilmer’s performance as Doc Holliday and it appears as if Kurt Russell is responsible for the entire project even happening. Kilmer finished his post by stating, “I’ll say it again. Kurt was responsible for the film’s success.”

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