Jon Favreau challenges "faith and fear" with Cowboys & Aliens

Earlier this week we saw the aliens from Cowboys & Aliens first hand at WonderCon. The one thing that stuck out wasn't the spoilery alien reveal, but the religious banter between the cowboys. How much of Jon Favreau's film is going to challenge people's faith?


You showed the alien [in the WonderCon footage]!

Favreau: Yeah we showed a little bit of the alien. They seemed to like it. They seemed to like what they saw. It's not just the alien but we showed some of the chemistry between Harrison and Daniel. There was more dialog. People are getting a sense of the tone in the film now, people hear the title and they don't don't know what to expect. They don't know if it's a comedy or a spoof, then they don't know if it's going to take itself too seriously. And I think this is the first time we showed enough footage where people understand that this is a fun film, but a film that takes the stakes of the alien invasion very seriously...


I was hoping you could break down what sort of traditional Western characters we're going to find in Cowboys & Aliens?

We wanted to use, as a starting point the archetypes that date back to Stagecoach and beyond. You have the rough Cattle Baron with Harrison Ford. Daniel Craig as the drifting gunfighter, you know "the man with no name" well he's the man with no name because his memory's been wiped, that's a fun twist on that. Olivia Wilde as the mysterious woman passing through, with chemistry with the gunfighter. Then you have Sam Rockwell as "Doc," the barkeep. Clancy Brown, the preacher. So as you look at all the archetypes and elements in the film, it should hopefully carry the torch of the traditional Western. But of course what then happens as the aliens land and take their people away, how do they organize themselves to face this overwhelming challenge?

This was the first time I saw religion being mentioned in this footage, they call them demons - Clancy holds the Bible and says "our faith is being tested." Is there going to be a lot of religion versus science in this film or religion talk?

Favreau: I think that religion was the closest thing we had to science when dealing with things like that back then, and Clancy Brown is a preacher. So it's always seen through that prism. And I think the themes of the Western has a biblical aspects to it. A lot of the stories are mythic and echo stories of the old Testament. And we wanted to open that dimension up, and that's the way these characters would perceive it. It was fun to make it that elemental; it adds gravity to everything. You're facing overwhelming odds and so that's always a story about faith. It's a story about faith and fear. And alien movies lend themselves to that as well. We struck a really good balance, I feel really good about it, as far as that goes.


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I don't know why some people, a couple of my friends included, think that the premise is cheesy. If people see UFOs now, why couldn't have cowboys have had encounters with them back then? I can imagine being out in the open, away from a city with light pollution, and being able to clearly spot things in the night sky.