Idris Elba loves being a cowboy. The British actor recently stole our hearts as the gruff-but-loving father teaching his son the ways of the urban cowboy in Netflix’s Concrete Cowboy alongside Stranger Things‘ Caleb McLaughlin, and now he’s back in the saddle for another cinematic adventure paying homage to the Old West.
The Harder They Fall features Elba as Rufus Buck, an outlaw broken out of jail by his gang in the first moments of the teaser. “Treacherous” Trudy Smith (Regina King), Cherokee Bill (LaKeith Stanfield) and company — clad from head-to-toe in Western wear, with accents to match — boarding a train full of officers to free Rufus and take down everyone in their path.
The news of Rufus’ escape reaches Nat Love (Jonathan Majors), who rounds up his own gang to track the other outlaw down and exact his revenge. Nat’s crew consists of the hot-tempered Bill Pickett (Edi Gathegi), fast drawing Jim Beckwourth (R.J. Cyler), his former love Stagecoach Mary (Zazie Beetz) and a surprising adversary-turned-ally. The two gangs go head-to-head for an epic clash of old-school versus new.
Directed by Jeymes Samuel, The Harder They Fall puts a modern spin on the Western genre. It features a primarily Black cast that includes Delroy Lindo, Danielle Deadwyler, Edi Gathegi, Damon Wayans Jr. and Deon Cole, and a screenplay co-written by Samuel and Boaz Yakin. And as we can hear from the teaser, the soundtrack promises to be as great as the film!
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In an interview with Shadow and Act, Samuel shared that he has always wanted to explore the world of the Western through the lens of Blackness, a lens not often used to showcase the American West’s history.
“I really, really loved westerns, but I would just see a really clear inconsistency with the portrayals of people of color, basically in the Old West and being such a fan of actors like Woody Strode, who was amazing in Spartacus but then you’ll see him pop up in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and he couldn’t get a drink in the bar,” he said. “I just grew up wanting to know more about people of color and women and all of these ideas of the Old West that I was not getting from Hollywood movies. And so I would just buy books and would…uncover amazing characters–both heroes and villains, both men and women of all colors.”
He added, “I believe that The Harder They Fall fits firmly in the western [canon], because the western, when Hollywood was doing it, was fresh. The choice of music they would use, it was fresh at the time. It wasn’t actually cowboy music. So, it’s a perfect addition to the genre and brings it into 2021 and forward.”
The Harder They Fall will debut on Netflix and in theaters fall 2021.
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