Viewers of Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven remake (or reimagining) will no doubt find action, suspense and a whole lot of bullets flying across dirt-covered paths, but what they may also be surprised to find is just how much humor is packed into the film, too. Many of the laughs come from the ensemble’s most charismatic addition, Chris Pratt, playing a wisecracking gambler named Josh Faraday who joins Denzel Washington’s Chisolm early in the film — the duo on a quest to recruit other like-minded gunslingers willing to put their lives on the line to protect a small town from a corrupt industrialist (Peter Sarsgaard) looking to take the land for himself.
Pratt is great and all, but perhaps the film’s biggest laughs will come from Vincent D’Onofrio, who steals scenes with an eccentric (and slightly frightening) high-pitched voice to go along with his big, brutal fighting skills.
“It was interesting with him because he’s playing a man who comes from a very violent world,” director Antoine Fuqua explained when we asked him recently about D’Onofrio’s odd voice. “Ultimately he winds up alone and somehow up in the mountains found his own spirituality, if you will. And he probably hasn’t talked to anyone in years.”
Fuqua went on to explain how D’Onofrio came to him early on teasing this voice he wanted to use for the character and looking for approval, except Fuqua didn’t want to hear it. “I was like, nope. Save it for the day I’m gonna film you. Because I want to be like the audience. I can’t judge it sitting in some office because we’re not in the environment. So as soon as I got out there and he came stomping out of that hill yelling, I hit the floor laughing so hard I couldn’t stop myself. I almost interfered with the sound and ruined the scene!”
While the director definitely sees that voice as a risk, it’s one he’s willing to take because of just how damn entertaining it is. Not only that, but it also elevates the character and distinguishes him, which is especially important on a film with such a large ensemble.
“I thought if the audience and the ones who love movies have the same reaction I had — because I am the audience, I love movies — then I’m keeping that,” Fuqua said. “Those are the things you don’t know until you’re in the world — in the moment. Especially with something like that where you’re taking a risk. What I’ve learned over the years is that filmmakers overthink a lot. And look, I’m the first guy to see the movie. If my reaction is that I love that voice, then I’m sure other people will enjoy it, too.”
The Magnificent Seven hits theaters September 23. Read more of our interview with Antoine Fuqua right here.