EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Cowboys & Aliens Writers Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci

Based on the graphic novel of the same name, Jon Favreau's summer 2011 adventure Cowboys & Aliens brings together two classic genres, and in this exclusive interview screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci detail the challenges of bringing those genres together.

Interview conducted by and © Edward Gross

SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: What got you guys involved with adapting Cowboys & Aliens?

ROBERTO ORCI: Honestly, the title. It's hard to find new stuff these days, in this market, that the studio is willing to take a chance on when it's unknown. This is both unknown and it’s original – the title is so provocative and anyone who hears it, I think it sparks their imagination and it was no different with us.

ALEX KURTZMAN: I also think it was the opportunity to do something really original that slams two genres we’re devoted fans of together, and takes both so seriously. It was just an amazing challenge, because figuring out how they fit together was deceptively tricky in many ways, but it was really rewarding with what we ended up coming to.

SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: I know the movie isn’t coming out until next summer, but is there some sort of nugget you can provide about the plot?

ALEX KURTZMAN: I think the tone of this is the whole ballgame in a lot of ways. Both genres run the gamut from Space Balls to 2001, and Wild Wild West to Unforgiven, so figuring out where this movie lived, and the various degrees between those movies, was the challenge of figuring out its tone.

SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: Do you feel the two genres are able to blend together?

ROBERTO ORCI: We’re heard the title and we were like, “Let's do it!” And we sat down to write it and said, “Oh man, this is going to be harder than we thought.” I mean, you want it to seem seamless to the audience and to feel organic, not just seem like one movie is interrupting the other movie and they don't go together. They have to weave together naturally, and of course I think that's why it's been in development for so long. Its been around for 12 years – I think everyone who took a stab at it could come up with various degrees of both genres, but finding just the right blend of both that went together, such that it’s a unified whole and not just two noises going together, that was the trick.

SCIFI MEDIA ZONE: I imagine if you're doing the Western portion it has to feel like a Western ..?

ALEX KURTZMAN: We always describe it as, “Imagine you're watching Unforgiven, and the aliens from Alien land,” but we're never doing it tongue in cheek, we're never doing wink, wink at the audience, we are committed to a very serious tone for both, which doesn't preclude a lot of fun, but I think you have to take both genres seriously, and the collision of the genres seriously, or the movie will not work.

For much more on Cowboys & Aliens, pick up a copy of Movie Magic magazine, on sale beginning November 8th.

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