Actor Matt Damon returns to the screen this fall in a dramatic tale of adventure and love. All the Pretty Horses is a screen adaptation of the highly acclaimed National Book Award winning novel written by Cormac McCarthy. Damon’s co-stars include Henry Thomas, Lucas Black, Penelope Cruz and Bruce Dern.
In 1949, John Grady Cole (Damon) joined his pal Lacey Rawlins (Thomas) in a horseback journey to Mexico when he was forced to leave the only life he knew at his mother’s ranch. During the trip, both horsemen encounter various adventures, including the addition of a new companion, a 13-year-old misfit named Blevins (Black). Once they arrive at the hacienda, Grady and Rawlins are both hired as vaqueros. Grady falls passionately in love with Alejandra (Cruz), the daughter of a wealthy ranch owner, but their romance is ill fated and leads to a series of brutal events that prove to be Grady’s ultimate test of maturity and manhood to gain the respect he desires.
“It’s a story about desolation and endless searching,” explains Thomas, “In All the Pretty Horses, [Grady] is looking, well, not for salvation but for his space in the world. The world is changing and he doesn’t feel his place in it.”
A month before production began, Damon and Thomas, as well as co-stars Lucas and Cruz, spent their days in Texas training to perfect their horseback riding skills. By the time they were ready to face the cameras they were almost as comfortable on their horses as their characters. “Henry and I cabome down to Texas a month early and rode horses every day for five weeks,” Damon says. “We worked with Rusty Hendrickson and his team of wranglers, Rex Peterson and Monty Stuart. Every morning Rex and Monty would take us out and split us up and we’d ride for eight hours every single day,” Damon explains. Damon and Thomas had to learn to saddle the horses in the morning, unsaddle them at night and carefully brush their manes. They didn’t seem to mind – it allowed them to live their roles and experience cowboy life firsthand. Drills were a large part of their training. “We’d be trotting and Rex would say, ‘Okay, we’ll walk around here in a figure eight. But I want your figure eight to be perfect,'” says Damon. “So we’d do it first at a trot and then at a gallop. It was all about feeling totally confident doing it.”
The goal was to achieve a level of comfort that would make it seem as though they had been living with horses their whole lives. “The horses were incredible,” says Damon, “They’re better actors than we are. They’ve been in hundreds of movies and nothing ruffles them.”
All The Pretty Horses is due for release this fall by Columbia Pictures and Miramax Films.