‘Apache Junction’ Stars Stuart Townsend and Scout Taylor-Compton Talk About Their New Western
The stars talk about how they found their characters and the challenges of having a 9-month gap in production because of COVID.
‘Apache Junction’ is a new Western about a frontier town that may not have a sheriff, but still holds on to an uneasy peace with the nearby Army forces. The film’s stars Stuart Townsend and Scout Taylor-Compton talked to Moviefone about their new movie.
Stuart Townsend talks about his character and trying to find the right hat.
Moviefone: Could you give us a description of your character, Jericho Ford?
Stuart Townsend: He's an outlaw, kind of out there on the fringes of society, a bit of a loner, has had a pretty rough life. He's done some bad things, but he's not a bad guy. He's got a heart of gold, if you could say, but he's very good with a fast draw with a gun. And you don't want to get on the wrong side of him.
MF: What appealed to you about playing a character like that?
Townsend: I wanted to do a Western since I was a kid, since I was dressed up in the whole gear. It's one of those things. It's just one of those things. And when I heard his name was Jericho Ford, I was like, "Oh yeah, sign me up. I don't even need to read the script. I want to play that character."
MF: That's a terrific Western, gunslinger name.
Townsend: It's the best. It's iconic straight from the start. You know?
MF: One of the things I was wondering about as I'm watching this movie, those Old West revolvers look huge. How much do those weigh? And is it hard to quick draw with those?
Townsend: Really hard, really hard. And we kind of got them late, so I'm like, "Can I get another gun?" And [director] Justin Lee's like, "Nah, that's the gun." He's very specific about the details. Like you would have this gun, that guy would have that gun. And so, it was just a very quick amount of intense practice to try and draw, because I have to have that gun. But you're right. It was a really long gun. It was not easy. That's for sure.
MF: Where did you shoot this movie?
Townsend: Well, we shot it in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And then COVID hit. So we stopped for about nine months, put on about 10 pounds and went back and shot it in Joshua Tree. So yeah, we were LA, New Mexico.
MF: Is that tough for you as an artist to come back to something nine months later and find that character all over again?
Townsend: Yeah, it was pretty weird, because it wasn't just like we're leaving and coming back, it was also like the entire world had been traumatized and changed in the interim. And it was really interesting, because we had, had 10 days of shooting I think, or maybe two weeks, when we shut down. And we had so much fun.
Our crew was just having a blast. We were in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is a beautiful town. We were going out, drinking every night. We were having a blast, which doesn't always happen on movies, but this movie was like fun from the start. All the producers were fun. The director was fun. We're having a great time. And then it ended. And then we came back. And when we came back, for the first two days, it was a pretty somber atmosphere. Everyone's getting tested, wearing masks.
As you know, as everyone knows, it's pretty hard to have fun. Fun is sort of a miracle in this day and age. I just traveled for the last three days, through three countries, all those airports. Nothing is fun anymore. And people are not fun. People in all these various settings ... I've been to these cities, they're great fun. Not anymore. So it's just one of those things. But I have to say we, by day three, we're warming up. And by the end of the week, we were kind of really back as the team, having fun again. But it definitely feel the difference.
MF: The movie happens, at least for Jericho, over a day or so, or maybe a couple of days. So he's in the same costume the whole time. I imagine there are multiples of that costume. What's that like for you as an actor, to be in the same clothes all the time?
Townsend: You would imagine there were multiples, but there wasn't. And if you look really closely, there's a few items that are different, because we gave the costume back to the costume house. And some of those things weren't available nine months later when we shot.
It was a low-budget movie, man, really low budget, but I like it. I mean, as a cowboy back in the day, it's not a fashion show. You're not going to be changing. So it felt right. I think our costume designer, she did an amazing job. Everything looks really well lived in and authentic. It took a while to find the costume. But when I finally got it, I was like, "Yeah, now I feel like this guy. And the costume played a big part in that.
MF: Jericho's hat is so good. Do you get to participate in the picking of that?
Townsend: Oh, yeah. The hat has a whole... We could make a movie, a documentary about the hat. We couldn't find the right hat. I spent hours in a costume house, trying on every hat. Not all hats suit me. I ended up with a fedora. It looked the best. And we had three choices. The other two were terrible. And on the day before shooting, the director, Justin, comes up. And he's like, "We can't do the hat." I'm like, "Why not?" And he's like, "Well, it's a fedora. And no way..." To be authentic. He knows his stuff, and I respect that a lot. So I was like, "Oh, God, okay, what am I going to do?"
Thank God, I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where there's cowboy hat stores. And I think it was like 4:00 in the afternoon. I went and just went through the whole town, looking for hats, found the hat. We had to kind of trim it down. But by the next morning, it was really cool. The next morning, put it on, went onto set. And it was just of those things. The hat really makes the man in a Western. I think when Justin and everyone saw the hat, they were like, "Hey, there's Jericho." So it worked out in the end.
MF: And then Pike has that bowler, which we know people wore lots of bowlers back then, but it sets him apart so much.
Townsend: It really does. It's like, oh, something's a little off with this guy.
MF: I just saw you in ‘Grace and Grit,’ so I'm curious for a good Irish boy like yourself, what's it take to do an American accent?
Townsend: Yeah, it's tricky, because I mean, I used to work with a coach. Like, if I was doing a Boston accent, I would definitely have a voice coach. There's something very particular, accents. I don't know. I mean, I kind of made it up, because we've all seen so many Westerns, that there's some sort of amalgamation of different characters' voices in my head, from years of watching Westerns.
Obviously, ‘Grace and Grit,’ I was watching Ken Wilber, who the movie was about, so I was watching YouTube videos of him speak, even though he was speaking in a more formal setting. But there, at least, I had something to hold onto. It also matters how it's written. I think this was well-written.
I did a Tennessee Williams play many years ago, and it's so well-written, that every character not only has a different accent, but they have a different dialect. But they're all Southern. And he knew his characters so well. And I had to do a Southern accent, and I was in my 20s, and I hadn't lived in America then. But honestly, I found it pretty easy, because the writing was so good. And with this too, like Jericho Ford, the character was there. I felt like I didn't have that many problems trying to find accents, because the writing was good. You know?
Scout Taylor-Compton talks about her character in the movie.
Moviefone: Could you describe your character?
Scout Taylor-Compton: Annabelle Angel is a journalist. She comes from San Francisco. She's a tough cookie. She's got some backbone to her. She's not your typical Western-style damsel in distress, but she's got a lot to prove, and she's just trying to find her voice.
MF: Is that part of what appealed to you about playing this character?
Taylor-Compton: Oh, 100%, that's what attracted me to this script. I mean, a typical Western mostly revolves around men. And so, that's what I loved about it so much, is that it evolved. The story was being told by this woman, so that definitely attracted me to it.
MF: What's your process as an actor for kind of finding a character like Annabelle? How do you come up with how she's going to be?
Taylor-Compton: I grew up watching Westerns with my dad, so this kind of was an easy find for me. I also love period pieces. I just have been so intrigued by how women used to hold themselves, how they used to present themselves. So this was kind of something that I have played in the past, so it was pretty easy to adjust to. And then finding her voice. She's not from Apache, she's from San Francisco, so it's a little bit more delicate and posh, if you would say. Yeah. So it was really interesting to dive into her and work on her character.
MF: The production had a huge gap in filming, because of COVID. What's that mean for you as an actor, as an artist, coming back after a gap like that?
Taylor-Compton: It was unexpected, obviously. I mean, for all of us, the whole pandemic was shocking. Well, that was like the underlining thing to it as well, coming back, was just making sure that everybody was okay. And it was kind of a heart-warming thing to be reunited with one another. My look definitely changed 100%, so there was a lot of that, like having to match. I think that was more hectic, was having to match us to what we used to look like back then. And I mean, during the pandemic, I kind of ate a lot of junk food and making sure the costumes fit snug. And my hair was a different color, so I was wigging it, which is so crazy, because you can't tell at all in the film that half of the film, I'm wearing a wig,
But yeah, it was pretty interesting to come back and reset. But it was challenging in some aspect, but it was also a lot of fun to come back.
MF: So you get to do some horseback riding in this, but this isn't the first time you've done that on film.
Taylor-Compton: No, I've done a couple of Westerns, and I've worked with horses before. I'm not afraid of horses, which is the number one thing that you can't forget. They can smell fear. My horse, Peaches though...
Of course, I just need to stop. Every time I do a Western or anything that had to deal with horses, I always pick like, oh, that's the cutest one. But I got a female. And females are tough. They're tough cookies as a person and as animals. The females, the mares, have such their own mind. So me and her have a love/hate relationship. But Willie, which was Stuart's horse, I loved him. I loved riding him. He was awesome. He was amazing.
MF: The guns you all are holding are gigantic. How heavy are those?
Taylor-Compton: Those are so heavy. They are so heavy. I mean, Annabelle had a couple of guns, but I remember, I almost wanted to use two hands, because they were so heavy on my wrist. I felt bad for the men, because they had to use them constantly.
MF: Is Trace Adkins' voice that amazing when the camera's not running?
Taylor-Compton: Yes. I mean, I grew up listening to Trace. I'm a country girl at heart, so being in his presence was just... The only other time that I ever felt nervous to meet someone was when I worked with Rob Zombie. So it was like being in his presence. He's a big guy, he's a big dude. And then he has a deep, deep, deep voice, and he's very soft-spoken. He's a man of few words. So I mean, he's a really awesome guy on set and off.
MF: When you get nervous about meeting somebody like that, how hard is it to compartmentalize that feeling and still do the job you need to do?
Taylor-Compton: I think because I've been doing this for so long, I've kind of triggered into acting mode to kind of hide my fears. I think that's one thing that I love, that I've been doing this for so long, is that I can kind of coat that, so no one can tell when I'm completely panicking, but that was one of them. And my trailer was right next to him.
I think what lightened the mood was he had a dog, and I had a dog. So our dogs were constantly in each other's trailers, playing with one another, so that was really cute.