The Hateful Eight Forced A Major Change To Kurt Russell's Bone Tomahawk Character

1993's "Tombstone" features one of the most outstanding collections of facial hair of any movie in history, and star Kurt Russell's incredible crumb catcher is one of the best of the bunch. ("Tombstone" fun fact: There was only one fake mustache in that entire production.) Decades later, in an interview with Esquire, Russell basically said that cinematic trip to mustache nirvana didn't happen by accident. Part of his process as an actor is to seriously consider every aspect of every one of his characters — especially when it comes to the hair and makeup and costuming. 

"I try to draw it from the script and then go into my imagination and do what I think will work," he explained. That approach extended to his ultra-memorable Snake Plissken character in "Escape From New York," because according to the actor, it was his idea for Snake to have an eye patch. "He's got nuclear dust in his left eye and his eye is messed up! [...]  He's constantly in a little bit of pain and agony because his left eye is always bugging him." That annoyed, chip-on-the-shoulder attitude helped inform the rest of his performance and made Snake Plissken into an all-time classic movie character.

But sometimes, the realities of previous commitments can interfere with the ideal circumstances for a role. (Remember Henry Cavill's mustache fiasco while filming "Justice League" and "Mission: Impossible — Fallout"? Of course you do.) In the case of the horror Western "Bone Tomahawk," Russell's character would have looked a lot different had that production not butted up against Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight," where he had already promised to sport a bushy beard/'stache combo and a spectacularly full head of hair.

Bone Tomahawk benefitted from Kurt Russell's commitment to The Hateful Eight

S. Craig Zahler's 2015 film "Bone Tomahawk" is an exceptionally well-made Western built around a stellar Kurt Russell performance. The character he plays, Sheriff Hunt, might as well be an older version of his "Tombstone" character Wyatt Earp, since the two share several similarities — not least of which is having some kick-ass facial hair. But if Russell had his way, Hunt would have looked very different. As he told Esquire:

"For [Sheriff Hunt], I had to do a different version of him because I was getting ready for 'The Hateful Eight.' I would have changed my look significantly for this one. I would've had much shorter hair. Men at the time typically had shorter hair, but I looked around and there were all kinds of different looks. But I was really getting ready for Quentin's movie and I had no choice because we finished on a Saturday morning at 10:00 and I started rehearsal on Quentin's movie Monday morning at 8:00. I had to continue to grow my mustache. Not my beard. I cut my beard down, but I continued to grow the mustache, so it was a massive thing for 'Hateful Eight.' It's a different look and I was getting ready for it. I had to cheat it. So the look I have in 'Bone Tomahawk' was sort of a halfway house thing, halfway to where I was going for 'Hateful Eight.' It's in full blown maturity in 'Hateful Eight!' It's a mustache wearing a man in, not the other way around! [John Ruth] is a far different guy. He's a bigger that life character. The mustache said a lot."

"Bone Tomahawk" largely flew under the radar when it was released, but if you're looking for a lean, merciless movie with a strong premise, top-tier Kurt Russell and Richard Jenkins performances, an incredible sense of tension, and one particularly brutal kill scene that you'll never forget, this one checks all of the boxes. Would "Bone Tomahawk" have been a better film if Russell's character had shorter locks (or, god forbid, no mustache)? Hell no. When it comes to the hair, I'll take "The Thing" Kurt Russell over "Soldier" Kurt Russell every single time.