‘Tombstone’ 30 Years Later: Revisiting The Cast Of The Surprise Western Hit

“Tombstone” is one of those movies that you rewatch on cable and everyone who shows up gives you a spark of recognition. There’s Val Kilmer giving a scenery-chewing performance as Doc Holliday. There’s John Locke from “Lost,” the villain from “Titanic,” even “Bad Santa.” And is that Charlton Heston?

The film arrived in theaters on Christmas Day 1993 and revisited the true story of a 30-second gunfight on the streets of Tombstone, Ariz., in 1881, one that pits the Earp brothers against the Clantons and McLaurys. Reviews of “Tombstone” were mixed (“unsatisfying and unfulfilling,” Richard Harrington wrote in a Washington Post review), but Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an audience score of 94 percent. And it ended up making $56 million at the box office (on a budget of just $25 million).

Here’s a roundup of 10 notable actors, along with their quotable lines.

Sam Elliott
Role: Virgil Earp, brother of Wyatt and a Tombstone marshal

Also known for: “Mask” (1985) and “Road House” (1989). Later narrated cult favorite “The Big Lebowski” (1998) and appeared in this year’s “A Star is Born,” as the brother of Bradley Cooper’s character and inspiration for his deep drawl.

Memorable line: “If we’re gonna have a future in this town, it’s gotta have some law and order!”

Kurt Russell
Role: Wyatt Earp, former lawman in Dodge City who comes to Tombstone to start a business and later adds a federal marshal badge

Also known for: Started as a child actor with Disney in the 1960s and appeared in a pair of John Carpenter cult favorites, “Escape from New York” (1981) as Snake Plissken, and “Big Trouble in Little China” (1986). Earned a Golden Globe nomination for supporting actor in “Silkwood” (1983). Made “Overboard” (1987) with longtime partner Goldie Hawn. Their son was born in 1986 and named Wyatt. Played Herb Brooks, gold-medal hockey coach of Team USA, in “Miracle” (2004). More recent films include “Furious 7” (2015), “The Hateful Eight“ (2015) and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017).

Memorable line: “Go ahead, skin it! Skin that smokewagon and see what happens!”

Val Kilmer
Role: Wyatt’s friend Doc Holliday, a hard-drinking gambler, sharpshooter and dentist who’s dying of tuberculosis

Also known for: “Top Gun” (1986), “The Doors” (1991), “Heat” (1995), “Batman Forever” (1995) and a lot of direct-to-video films. Creates pop art from his notable roles.

Memorable lines (take your pick): “Evidently Mr. Ringo’s an educated man. Now I really hate him.”

“Nonsense, I have not yet begun to defile myself.”

“Why, Johnny Ringo, you look like somebody just walked over your grave.”

“I stand corrected, Wyatt. You’re an oak.”

“It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.”

Bill Paxton
Role: Morgan Earp, the younger brother whose killing in a revenge ambush sparks Wyatt’s vendetta against the gang of Cowboys

Also known for: “Weird Science” (1985), “Apollo 13” (1995), “Twister” (1996), “Titanic” (1997) and “Edge of Tomorrow” (2014). Played a polygamist with three wives in the HBO series “Big Love” (2006-2011). Paxton died in 2017.

Memorable line: “Like you said, Wyatt, we’re brothers. Gotta back your brother’s play.”

Billy Bob Thornton
Role: Johnny Tyler, who runs the gambling operation in Tombstone before Wyatt takes over

Also known for: Won an Oscar for writing “Sling Blade” (1996); also nominated for best actor in the film and was nominated again as supporting actor in “A Simple Plan” (1998). Played the title role in “Bad Santa” (2003) and now stars in “Goliath” on Amazon.

Memorable line: “Well, for a man that don’t go heeled, you run your mouth kinda reckless, don’t you?” (Wyatt Earp responds: “No need to go heeled to get the bulge on a tub like you.”)

Jon Tenney
Role: Sheriff John Behan, not to be confused with the town marshal

Also known for: Played an FBI agent who’s the husband of Kyra Sedgwick’s character in TBS’s “The Closer” as well as its spinoff, “Major Crimes.” This fall, he appeared in an episode of “The Romanoffs” on Amazon as the husband of Amanda Peet’s character.

Memorable line: “We’re growing. Be as big as San Francisco in a few years, and just as sophisticated.” (Cue street shootout and Holliday’s droll remark: “Very cosmopolitan.”)

Dana Delany
Role: Josephine Marcus, actress and Wyatt’s love interest

Also know for: Won two Emmys for lead actress in TV series “China Beach” (1988-1991). Also appeared in ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” (2007-2012) and Amazon’s “Hand of God” (2014-2017).

Memorable line: “I’m a woman. I like men. If that means I’m not ‘ladylike,’ then I guess I’m just not a lady! At least I’m honest.” (Wyatt Earp: “You’re different. No arguin’ that. But you’re a lady all right. I’d take my oath on it.”)

Charlton Heston
Role: Rancher Henry Hooker

Also known for: “Ten Commandments” (1956), “Ben-Hur” (1959), “Planet of the Apes” (1968). Five-term president of the National Rifle Association. Died in 2008.

Robert Mitchum
Role: Narrator, after a fall from a horse kept him from playing Old Man Clanton

Also known for: “Cape Fear” (1962) and ABC miniseries “The Winds of War” (1983). Nominated for best supporting actor Oscar for “Story of G.I. Joe” (1945). He died in 1997.

Memorable line: “Wyatt Earp died in Los Angeles in 1929. Among the pallbearers at his funeral were early western stars William S. Hart and Tom Mix. Tom Mix wept.”

Gary Clarke
Role: Crawley Dake, a federal marshal trying to recruit the Earps

Also known for: Played Steve Hill in NBC’s “The Virginian” (1962-1964). Appeared with Thornton and Wheeler-Nicholson in “Parkland” (2013).

Memorable line: “I never saw a rich man who didn’t wind up with a guilty conscience.” (Wyatt Earp replies: “Already got a guilty conscience. Might as well have the money, too.”)


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