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I'm Your Huckleberry: 13 Facts About The 1993 Classic 'Tombstone'

By Jodi Smith | Lists | May 1, 2018 |

By Jodi Smith | Lists | May 1, 2018 |


Twenty-five years later and people still quote, re-watch, and generally enjoy 1993 western Tombstone. No one says dick about the 1994 Kevin Costner pile of boredom that was Wyatt Earp though. I just wanted to remind everyone that it was a thing that was bad and that ol’ “no emoting” Costner isn’t fit to trim the butt hairs of American treasures Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer.

Anyway, let’s digress and get into some facts about Tombstone: the movie so nice, they named a town after it I like it a lot.

1. Some of Doc Holliday’s lines were taken from quotes provided by newspaper articles of the time. “You’re a daisy if you do” as a response to an opponent shouting, “I’ve got you now” was reportedly uttered as “You’re a daisy if you have!”. Some claim his last words of “I’ll be damned” before succumbing to tuberculosis were accurate as well.

2. Scriptwriter Kevin Farre was the original director, but he had no experience and was making too many mistakes while being overwhelmed. George P. Cosmatos was brought in as the new director and began re-shooting various scenes. John Fasano was brought in to slim down Farre’s overlong script into a manageable feature film length. Kilmer said that they could cut all of his lines, as he had his tin cup and scene-stealing demeanor. Sam Elliott, however, told Fasano “If you cut a word of my dialogue, I’ll kill you.”

3. Russell told True Western magazine in July, 2013 that he was the real director of the film. Cosmatos was given the shots that he was expected to film the next day. In exchange, Russell promised to never tell anyone while Cosmatos was alive about the arrangement. Cosmatos died in 2005.

4. Russell trimmed down the original script by 20 pages by removing several of his lines and scenes. He told True Western “…there’s only one way I’m going to get the trust of these actors and that is to cut myself out of this goddamn movie and make some changes; make Wyatt an “aura” character.”

5. Wyatt Earp’s cousin, Wyatt Earp, appeared in the movie as Billy Claiborne. The undead Earp is a “fifth-generation cousin” of the Tombstone sheriff.

6. Robert Mitchum provides narration for the film, but he was meant to be Old Man Clanton. During shooting, Mitchum fell from his horse and was relegated to voice-only in the movie.

7. Every mustache in this film was 100% grown by the goddamn man that willed it onto his face for the duration of the shoot.

8. The cast was held to accuracy in their clothing, donning wool costumes in the Arizona heat. While filming inside the infamous Birdcage Theater, Kilmer recalled that it was 134 degrees Fahrenheit, prompting him to later quip “It’s just, like, he wore wool in the summer, in the Arizona territory, and that made him mad.” in response to Doc’s love of killing.

9. Willem Dafoe was an early frontrunner for the part of Doc Holliday, but The Last Temptation of Christ caused Disney-owned Buena Vista Pictures to drop him from consideration.

10. Stephen Lang went method with his portrayal of the drunk Ike Clanton. He was said by Cosmatos to be pissed through the entire shoot.

11. During Doc’s death scene, Kilmer requested he lay atop ice so he could shake and convulse as seen on film.

12. Billy Bob Thornton was told to “be a bully” in his scene with Russell. All of his lines are ad-libbed.

13. Powers Boothe, who plays Curly Bill Brocius, and Paula Malcomson (Allie Earp) would appear together in another western: Deadwood.