As Seth MacFarlane was finishing up his plush-toy comedy Ted, he and some of the writers were taking a break and watching the Clint Eastwood classic Western film Hang 'Em High. Immediately, the comedians began riffing on a funny version of a Western, given how poorly the average joe would have fared in the 1800s.
"We were talking about how this era is so romanticized in American film and literature, but it was actually a time and place that would have been so unbelievably depressing and dangerous to live in, particularly if you weren't an alpha male. It took off from there," MacFarlane said.
But one thing the filmmakers knew had to be present in the film was a modern take on femininity. This couldn't simply be a Western where a woman needed to be saved and protected by male gunslingers. In fact, MacFarlane wanted to go the opposite direction and Charlize Theron, best known for her dramatic work in movies like Snow White and the Huntsman, was totally on board.
"I've been interested in comedy for a while, but it's been tricky because audiences know me so well doing something very different. In fact, what also interests me is odd comedy. Those are very rare. The combination of this script and Seth directing was a slam dunk for me. I started begging instantly... I closed the script and started begging," Theron said.
Luckily, MacFarlane was thrilled to have her play the female bad-a** Anna in the film, and her begging was kept to a minimum. Theron ended up being a perfect fit for the role.
"She is the character that I have fallen in love with the fastest. We have a lot of similar traits, and I felt like I understood her straight from the beginning. Even though she hates the West, she is not jaded or cynical," Theron said.
About working with funny guy Seth MacFarlane, Theron said, "Seth makes it odd, because that's just his thing. It feels original, and it doesn't feel regurgitated. Actors say that all the time, but I really feel like this is something unique. There is something about the film that feels like a throwback to the '70s."
A Million Ways to Die in the West opens on Friday, May 30.
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