Tombstone Cast Then and Now

The 1993 classic “Tombstone” isn’t just a film; it’s an enduring piece of cinematic history that resurrected the Western genre for a new generation. But what made it iconic? Let’s mosey down the halls of Western lore and uncover the magic behind this legendary film.

“Tombstone” is one of those movies that you rewatch on cable and everyone who shows up gives you a spark of recognition. There’s Val Kilmer giving a scenery-chewing performance as Doc Holliday. There’s John Locke from “Lost,” the villain from “Titanic,” and even “Bad Santa.” And is that Charlton Heston?

Who were the main cast members of Tombstone?

“Tombstone” corrals a stellar ensemble of stars, with Kurt Russell leading as the indomitable Wyatt Earp, and Val Kilmer, delivering a career-defining performance as Doc Holliday. Not to forget, the Earp brothers, portrayed by Sam Elliott and Bill Paxton, added familial grit to the storyline, showcasing the dynamics of loyalty and justice.

  1. Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp: Taking on the role of the legendary lawman, Russell portrays a retired peace officer who reluctantly gets drawn back into a life of confrontation and battle against lawlessness.
  2. Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday: Kilmer’s portrayal of the tuberculosis-stricken, yet skilled gunman and gambler John “Doc” Holliday is one of his most memorable performances. His character is both volatile and loyal, providing a critical dynamic in the film.
  3. Sam Elliott as Virgil Earp: Elliott plays Wyatt’s older brother, who stands as a pillar of moral integrity and family duty. He brings his quintessential Western persona to the role, adding depth to the Earp family’s stand against crime.
  4. Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp: Paxton’s role as the younger Earp brother showcases a man coming to terms with the harsh realities of frontier justice. His journey is integral to the film’s exploration of familial bonds.
  5. Powers Boothe as Curly Bill Brocius: As the leader of the outlaw gang called the “Cowboys,” Boothe’s character is charismatic and menacing, providing a dark counterpoint to the Earps’ pursuit of justice.

What do the actors from Tombstone look like now?

Time may have weathered the real Wild West, but what about our stars? While some, like the beloved Bill Paxton, have sadly passed on, others have aged with grace. Val Kilmer’s transformation has been most notable, battling throat cancer but remaining a figure of resilience. Their legacies, however, eternally captured in “Tombstone,” remain timeless.

Are any of the Tombstone cast members still acting?

Absolutely! Kurt Russell continues to dazzle audiences, his work unfettered by the passage of time. Sam Elliott’s iconic mustache still graces both big and small screens, his resonant voice as captivating as ever. Despite health battles, Val Kilmer courageously continues artistic endeavors, his passion unquenched.

  1. Kurt Russell: One of Hollywood’s staples, Russell has never stepped back from the spotlight. He continues to act, appearing in numerous films across various genres. His roles in franchises like “The Fast and the Furious” and movies like “The Christmas Chronicles” showcase his range and staying power.
  2. Val Kilmer: After his standout performance as Doc Holliday, Kilmer continued to have a successful career. However, he faced a significant challenge with throat cancer, affecting his voice. Despite this, he has been involved in different projects, including documentaries and appearances, showcasing his resilience and dedication to the arts.
  3. Sam Elliott: Known for his iconic Western persona, Elliott’s career has not slowed down. He has taken roles in various movies and TV shows, often stealing scenes with his charismatic performances. His work extends beyond the Western genre, including voice acting and appearances in contemporary dramas and comedies.
tombstone cast then and now

Tell me about Val Kilmer’s role in Tombstone.

Val Kilmer became Doc Holliday, embodying the dentist-turned-gunslinger’s wit, charm, and complexity. His masterful delivery of one-liners, as well as the vulnerable portrayal of Holliday’s tuberculosis battle, showcases acting alchemy that turned a role into an icon.

Character Overview: Doc Holliday is depicted as a multifaceted character in “Tombstone.” He is a former dentist turned gambler and gunslinger, a gentleman and a ruffian, and a loyal friend despite his self-destructive behavior. Struggling with tuberculosis throughout the film, Holliday is a man who knows his days are numbered, contributing to his fearless, even reckless, attitude toward life and death.

Performance Highlights: Val Kilmer performed the role with a certain charisma and wit, delivering many of the film’s most iconic lines. His quick, dry humor, often served with a sardonic smile, provided moments of lightness, contrasting the film’s often grim and tense atmosphere. One of the most memorable scenes involves a playful, yet tension-filled, cup-spinning sequence between Doc Holliday and Johnny Ringo, showcasing their competitive rapport and setting the stage for their ultimate confrontation.

Physical and Emotional Portrayal: Kilmer adopted a specific physicality for the role, appearing gaunt and illustrating Holliday’s ill health’s visible toll. Despite his character’s physical weakness, Kilmer’s Holliday is mentally sharp, often the smartest person in the room. This dichotomy added depth to the role, emphasizing the tragedy of his untimely demise due to illness.

Did Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer work together in any other films?

Surprisingly, no! Despite the electric camaraderie shared between Russell’s Wyatt Earp and Kilmer’s Doc Holliday, this legendary pairing remained unique to “Tombstone.” Perhaps a testament to the magic they captured, too elusive to replicate elsewhere.

What happened to the actors who played the Earp brothers in Tombstone?

Bill Paxton (Morgan Earp) continued a successful career until his untimely passing in 2017, leaving a legacy of varied and heartfelt performances. Sam Elliott (Virgil Earp) proudly carries the torch of the Western genre to this day, his career experiencing a renaissance with roles that have ingrained him deeper into popular culture.

Where was Tombstone filmed?

Not in the actual town of Tombstone, surprisingly! Arizona’s Mescal and the Old Tucson Studios set the stage for the reenactment of the infamous O.K. Corral shootout, bringing authenticity with stunning desert landscapes and a constructed 1880s streetscape.

Is Tombstone an accurate portrayal of the historical events?

“Tombstone” delivers historical nods with artistic liberties. While the heart of the Earp-Holliday friendship and the O.K. Corral shootout’s chaos ring true, certain dramatizations were for cinematic flair. But worry not, history buffs! The essence of Tombstone’s lawmen, outlaws, and their legendary face-off endures authentically.

Are there any behind-the-scenes stories from the making of Tombstone?

Absolutely! From Val Kilmer practicing quick-draw techniques in his backyard to actual tensions on set mirroring the film’s brooding atmosphere, “Tombstone” was forged with off-screen battles and triumphs. These untold trials contributed to the gritty realism that fans celebrate.

Who directed the movie Tombstone?

Initially, the reins were in the hands of director Kevin Jarre. However, creative differences saw him replaced, with George P. Cosmatos taking the helm under Kurt Russell’s guidance, shaping “Tombstone” into the Western phenomenon we cherish.

Directorial Changes and Influence: Initially, the film was to be directed by Kevin Jarre, who also wrote the screenplay. However, due to creative differences and difficulties during the early stages of shooting, Jarre was let go from his directorial responsibilities, and Cosmatos was brought in as his replacement.

George P. Cosmatos’ Role: Cosmatos was known for his action films, and he had a particular talent for creating tension and drama on screen, which was suited for “Tombstone” with its action-filled narrative and dramatic historical content. Under his direction, the movie maintained a brisk pace, featured stylized gunfights, and emphasized the characters’ emotional arcs, aspects that have contributed to the film’s enduring popularity.

Kurt Russell’s Involvement: An interesting aspect of “Tombstone’s” direction is actor Kurt Russell’s significant role behind the scenes. It has been reported and later confirmed by Russell himself that he had a substantial hand in directing the film. After Jarre’s departure, Russell, who played Wyatt Earp, stepped in to maintain the movie’s vision and continuity, essentially guiding the production before Cosmatos was appointed as the director. George P. Cosmatos, according to these accounts, handled the technical aspects of directing on set, but Russell was deeply involved in shaping the film’s narrative direction, tone, and even editing.

Despite the tumultuous circumstances surrounding its creation, “Tombstone” remains a beloved Western classic, with Cosmatos receiving credit for bringing this iconic story to the screen. The film’s direction, combined with its star-studded cast’s performances, contributed to its lasting legacy in the genre.