Magnificent Seven director says diverse casting is “not a statement”

The remake of the western classic stars Denzel Washington

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A reboot of the 1960 western classic The Magnificent Seven, starring Denzel Washington, opened the Toronto International Film Festival last night, and its director Antoine Fuqua said the film’s casting “wasn’t to make a statement”.

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Speaking before the film’s world premiere, he said: “I just wanted to see Denzel Washington on a horse.

“Everyone else fell in place around that idea.”

Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke co-star in Fuqua’s reboot of John Sturges’ 1960 western classic. 

Vincent D’Onofrio, South Korean star Byung-Hun Lee, Mexico’s Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Native American actor Martin Sensmeier make up the rest of the seven gunslingers. 

Asked about the casting in the context of the current debate in Hollywood about diversity, Fuqua said: “It wasn’t to make a statement. We don’t talk about it because you guys [the media] talk about it. 

“My idea was: Denzel Washington walks into a room and the room stops, Clint Eastwood walks into a room and the room stops. Is it because of the gunslinger or because of the colour of his skin? So we let the audience decide.”

Fuqua added: “You can’t do the same thing every era. Westerns change all the time. If we were sticking to just one way of doing something then all westerns would be all white guys looking like John Wayne.

“Westerns change with the time we’re in, so we made our film based on the world we are living in.”

Denzel Washington, who starred in Fuqua’s Training Day and The Equalizer, also emphasised the importance of originality, saying he had never seen the Sturges movie, which starred Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen.

“I didn’t keep away from it. I just didn’t know how it would help me.

“[Not seeing it] allowed me to do whatever I wanted to do. Instead of trying not to do what someone else did.”

Check out the trailer below:

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The Magnificent Seven hits UK cinemas on 23 September