Tombstone came out in 1993 and became one of the most renowned Western films of the modern era. Starring Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, and Bill Paxton, it tells the iconic real-life story of the legendary lawman Wyatt Earp. It follows his journey in Tombstone, Arizona, as he battles cowboys together with his brother and best friend, Doc Holliday.
The film was filled with epic scenes and stories behind the scenes that have become favorites to many movie fans.
But with so much time passing, some may have forgotten how things shake out. So, keep on scrolling below to refresh your mind about the arguably most popular Western film ever to be released.
1. It’s a true story.
Believe it or not, this Western film, Tombstone, is historically accurate. You might say that some of the scenes were quite unbelievable, but it’s actually based on the real-life events that happened at Tombstone, Arizona. This includes the revolutionary Gunfight at the O.K. Corral or when Bill Brosius missed U.S. Marshall Wyatt Earp three times from point-blank range before Earp cut him in half with his shotgun.
2. Kurt Russell is not only the Tombstone’s star but also its secret director.
Kevin Jarre – who wrote the script – was set to direct the picture, but he was fired a month into filming. He was then replaced by Greek-Italian film director George P. Cosmatos, who had to swing into action. It was then that most of the Tombstone production “fell on my shoulders,” said Russell.
While Cosmatos actually did direct it, it was Russell who did the biggest part of the behind-the-scenes work. The film got made right down, with Russell providing direction of his own. It was a sentiment echoed by Doc Holliday actor Val Kilmer, who addressed the persistent rumor in a lengthy blog entry, where he said that Russel “sacrificed lots of energy” to save Tombstone.
3. Russel removed several of his lines and scenes, trimming down the original script by 20 pages.
This is to earn the trust of his fellow actors as he took the initiative to keep the movie afloat.
4. Willem Dafoe could have been Doc Holliday.
It’s quite hard to imagine Tombstone without Val Kilmer in it. Without a doubt, he gave the performance of his career in the renowned film that some people think he was robbed of his Oscar.
However, it turned out he wasn’t the filmmakers’ first choice. The role actually almost went to legendary actor Willem Dafoe. But when Jarre pitched the movie to Walt Disney Studios, the studio refused this casting decision due to the controversy surrounding Dafoe’s previous film, The Last Temptation of Christ, where he played Jesus.
5. All of the actors grew real mustaches, except for one.
Indeed, Tombstone featured a fine variety of mustaches for you to admire. Jarre was apparently quite determined for the cast to grow their upper lip hairs to make the movie more authentic. He was even very specific about how he wanted the mustaches – like they should curl up on end.
While everyone was pretty proud that they grew their own mustache, Jon Tenney refused to do so as he was filming another role. They had to put a fake mustache on him.
6. The lines of Doc Holliday were actually real.
The film is filled with Doc Holliday’s quotable one-liners that still stand out today. Lines such as “I’m dying, how are you?” “You’re a daisy if you do,” “I have two guns, one for each of you,” and “In Vino Veritas” can even be seen on t-shirts as well as on memes everywhere.
Well, you might be surprised to learn that it was actually spoken in real life. Most of Doc Holliday’s lines were actually taken from newspapers that had recorded his words. It is said that “I’ll be damned” were also really the final words of Holliday.
7. Wyatt Earp’s cousin appeared in the movie.
You might have noticed in the end credits an actor named Glen Wyatt Earp III – playing the role of a gunman named Billy Claiborne – and it left you wondering who he is. Well, he’s the Old West legend’s fifth cousin.
He pursued an acting career in his namesake’s biopic.
8. During Doc Holliday’s death scene, Kilmer laid on top of ice for a very practical reason.
Kilmer asked the art department to fill the deathbed with ice– which he laid on – so he could shake and convulse, as seen in the movie.
9. Billy Bob Thornton ad-libbed his bully character.
Thornton improvised his role in the famous Saloon scene, with his only direction was to “be a bully.” He showed he was not only great in ad-libs but also showcased a wide range of emotions as he tried to intimidate Earp, only to end up bowing down.
Indeed, there were several attempts to bring history to the big screen, but Tombstone stands out.