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Western epic Horizon: An American Saga gets praise from cast Kevin Costner, Sienna Miller and Sam Worthington

LOS ANGELES, USA — Horizon: An American Saga, Academy Award-winner Kevin Costner’s latest movie, which he directed and co-wrote, features a star-studded cast: Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Jamie Campbell Bower, Jenna Malone, Luke Wilson, Tom Payne, Michael Rooker, Owen Crow Shoe, Tatanka Means, and Kevin himself.

The Dances With Wolves director’s passion project, which is planned for four chapters – Chapter 1 is opening worldwide on June 28, with Chapter 2 already scheduled for August 16 – has already locked distribution deals in most international markets, a feat that has inspired Kevin to push on.

“I feel like I just have to make what I want to make, and I’m glad that people – they see it as a way for them to do well,” Kevin told Deadline in May, ahead of the film’s Cannes debut. “And this whole way where it connected the business, the theatrical distribution, the whole thing sometimes works really beautifully and well. And the risk I take is somehow rewarded. That’s what I hope. But I couldn’t let it be my guide. I had to first make my story.”

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The star-studded cast of Horizon: An American Saga talked about working on the epic Western, their roles, and working with Kevin.

Sienna Miller

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Sienna Miller in “Horizon: An American Saga”
Photo credit: Parallax Studios / Saga Film Studios / Axinite Digicinema

Regarding her character, Frances Kittredge, Sienna, a self-confessed “secret history nerd,” said that what she loves most about Frances is that “she’s very honest. She’s quite contemporary whilst also being traditional. She’s not somebody who suffers and sits in her own pity – she’s resilient and forthcoming, and I imagine that she’d wear her tragedy in a very brave way, which she does.” Sienna also appreciates that Horizon: American Saga has a big focus on the female characters. “I can think of countless movies that I’ve seen in that era, but very few have ever really explored the experience for women. That was a huge draw,” she said.

The actress, known for films such as Foxcatcher and American Sniper, is also all praises for Kevin as a director. “Kevin has the ability to communicate clearly with passion, generosity, empathy, and wisdom,” she shared. “He has such an intuitive way of directing and such a genuine investment in each person’s story. That, for an actor, is the greatest gift. And Kevin being the brilliant director, writer, actor, and man that he is, he would never pick a side – you see everybody’s perspective in this story, and that was important to me. This is an American saga and a forensic look at a period in history.”

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Sam Worthington in “Horizon: An American Saga”
Photo credit: Parallax Studios / Saga Film Studios / Axinite Digicinema

Sam Worthington

Sam (“Avatar” films, “Clash of the Titans”) described his character, Trent Gephardt, as “an idealistic soldier who has the anger and frustrations of a young man in the sense that, inside, he’s deeply insecure about the world and his part in it. I think that he’s a man who just wants to fight. He believes that is the way out, but he ends up being a farmer, until the war comes. He has a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to Frances [whom he escorts together with her daughter to the fort], who offers him a sense of ease and calm, but he’s such a fixed young man at this point that he can’t open up to her.” Like Sienna, Sam enjoyed working with Kevin.

“Kevin has this story so clear in his head, and that’s what you want from a director, someone who can see it,” he shared. “Your job is to reflect that vision and help him, and because he’s an actor, he understands it’s about the details – what’s in the scene, what’s on the screen, what’s in the scene to progress the story. He can give you the minutiae of your behavior that can help tell this story, that’s what I get from him. And he’s a very calm man, there’s an air of confidence about him even though what he’s doing is very ambitious in its scope.”

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Jamie Campbell Bower in “Horizon: An American Saga”
Photo credit: Parallax Studios / Saga Film Studios / Axinite Digicinema

Jamie Campbell Bower

“When I read the script, I was genuinely, fully immersed,” said Jamie, known for fan favorites such as Stranger Things, The Twilight Saga and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.”“As actors, we’re always looking for the story that’s fully absorbing, and this not only had a visual element to it on the page, but also every word meant something, and that’s really special and really unique.” As for his character, Caleb Sykes, Jamie said that “while everyone else is doing a collective thing, Caleb is perpetually on his own journey. I believe the correct word to describe him is hubris, in some sort of fashion.”

Working with an actor-director like Kevin, especially on a character that was a “loose cannon,” proved to be a great advantage. “Kevin is both sensitive and proactive on set, in both an actor and director role, which must be a very difficult thing to do,” said Jamie. “You have to be thinking about logistics as well as the emotionality of the scene. So, that was just beautiful. He allowed us all to be really free, and that was really fun for me, this sense of freedom and self-confidence and joy and beauty in a very dark landscape. I really enjoyed working with him and I trusted him, and he trusted us, and it was a beautifully collaborative process.”

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Luke Wilson in “Horizon: An American Saga”
Photo credit: Parallax Studios / Saga Film Studios / Axinite Digicinema

Luke Wilson

Like Jamie, Luke (Legally Blonde, The Royal Tenenbaums) was drawn to Horizon: An American Saga because of the script. And like Sienna, the history particularly interested him. “I read parts one and two together, and I’ve never read anything like it,” said Luke. “It had so many historical things about the West that were so interesting, with cowboys and pioneers and the Indigenous people and the land and the weather that I really never read anything like it. Just the idea of westward expansion and people coming from all parts of the East and the Northeast, and kind of pushing their way west. And I said when I first met with Kevin, these read like novels to me. And something I’d never seen were these interesting storylines of the women in the West, the women moving with westward expansion, and also the Indigenous people already there as the people move through the land they already occupied.”

Being on set on location helped Luke in portraying his character Matthew Van Weyden, who gets elected to be the captain of the wagon train going to Horizon. “This was my first time driving out to set along the Colorado River, in between all these unbelievable mountains and rock formations, and it really makes your heart pound a little bit,” he shared. “And then coming to work on a Monday morning and coming around the corner and seeing this wagon train with hundreds of extras, all in period wardrobe, and horses. It’s epic in scope.”

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Owen Crow Shoe in “Horizon: An American Saga”
Photo credit: Parallax Studios / Saga Film Studios / Axinite Digicinema

Owen Crowe Shoe

“We first run into Pionsenay on the ridge, when two boys are looking down at the surveyors,” said the actor (The Revenant (stunts), Black Summer) about his character. “And every time, everything he sees as these people come, he slowly loses faith in humanity. It’s like, what is his world coming to? And his father, the Chief, chooses to take the high road and wait it out. But Pionsenay chooses to be the resistance, to push back, because it is threatening his way of life.”

The actor also appreciated that their director is a fellow actor. “Because of his acting background, he knows how to speak to actors,” he said. “It was such a relief to have him there in that capacity. He makes sure everyone is taken care of—not just the actors, but everybody, from the bottom to the top. And he’s so immersive. I felt like I got a little nugget of knowledge every time he spoke to me, some little life lesson.”

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Tatanka Means in “Horizon: An American Saga”
Photo credit: Parallax Studios / Saga Film Studios / Axinite Digicinema

Tatanka Means

Tatanka (Killers of the Flower Moon, The Son) was drawn to Horizon: An American Saga because of its “rawness.” “This was a really hard time to be alive, people on all sides were struggling day-to-day to survive, and life for Native people was especially complicated,” he said. “When we think about the modern day Western, we immediately think of ‘Dances with Wolves,’ so working with Kevin was an honor. The way Native people have been portrayed in movies has frequently been problematic. Kevin’s story tries to put all of the film’s characters on a level playing field. This moment in history was a rugged, gritty, rough time for everybody to survive. ‘Horizon’ depicts their reality in a cinematic way.”

About his character, he said, “I play Taklishim, an Apache warrior with the White Mountain Apache tribe who originally lived in the mountains of what is now Arizona. Taklishim has a family and the responsibility he feels to care for them makes him a bit more rounded out than he would otherwise be. At one time he was like his brother, Pionsenay, a young warrior who could go out and do anything, not carelessly but fearlessly. However, Taklkshim now has somebody to go home to, a mouth to feed, loved ones to worry about.”

Wase Chief

Wase (The Oath) described her character, Liluye, as “the embodiment of the traditional Native way. I don’t think most people realize, but the majority of Native nations were matriarchal, with the grandmas being the decision makers amongst tribes,” she proudly shared.

“Yes, we had our Chiefs, but the men held the utmost respect for women and all of the decisions came through these councils of elder women. It was the grandmas who ultimately decided when the men would go to war or not and there was this mutual respect between men and women. I think Liluye, although she respects her husband and recognizes his right to make his own choices, is also strong, independent and exercises her right to make her own choices as well. She is both soft and strong.”

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Abbey Lee in “Horizon: An American Saga”
Photo credit: Parallax Studios / Saga Film Studios / Axinite Digicinema

Abbey Lee

Abbey, who plays Marigold, who finds herself on the run with Kevin’s Hayes Ellison, has the utmost respect for him. “I think firstly what’s important about Kevin directing a piece that he has also co-written is he’s clearly been living and breathing this thing for such a long time,” she said.

“And so his wealth of knowledge is endless, and he makes you feel comfortable, like you’re in the right hands. And I think because he’s been an actor for such a long time and such a fantastic actor, he’s very sensitive to the process. He allows space and time for rehearsals, which so often you don’t get. And he really asks that people respect your space as an actor, which is very valuable for me. I take my work very seriously, and I’m very passionate about it, and he understands that.”

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Jena Malone in “Horizon: An American Saga”
Photo credit: Parallax Studios / Saga Film Studios / Axinite Digicinema

Jena Malone

For Jena (“Ellen” Harvey in the film), known for her badass tribute character in The Hunger Games movies, the representation of minorities was most important in Horizon: An American Saga. “When I was first sent ‘Horizon,’ because I knew Kevin was on board, he had written it and was directing it, I just knew that I was in for a treat,” she said. “I think he has such a beautiful sensibility in his storytelling, and in my experience working with him as an actor, he has a touch and taste of the poetic. The story is very character driven and expressive. And this isn’t just ‘his’ story, like we’ve been taught; the women, the children, the Indigenous people, are all able to tell their story, which I thought was really important.”

Tom Payne

Tom (plays artist Hugh Proctor), who grew up in England, never imagined he’d be able to do a Western movie in Hollywood. “This is a dream come true for me,” said the actor, who played a fan favorite character on The Walking Dead. “And then when you look at the material and you see the scope and the passion in the pages, it’s just mind blowing. As a British person, my American history is not brilliant, and this is real American history, this is learning. I think it’s really valuable to be telling this story right now.”

Another highlight of being part of the film for Tom was the moment he was offered the role by Kevin himself. “I was in England visiting my parents when he was casting, and it was very surreal to have Kevin Costner on a Zoom call with you, offering you a role. It was just one of those pinch-me moments.”

Isabelle Fuhrman

Diamond Kittredge is one of the favorite characters ever played by Isabelle, who wowed critics through her performance in the Orphan movies. “Diamond is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever read and played, especially because this saga spans years,” she said. “Viewers are able to see how she comes into this environment as a 15-year-old and grows through the experiences she has on the trail.”

She also had fun working on the character with the director. “I feel I’ve been able to really take ownership of my character, even when I’m not necessarily in the foreground, because Kevin is so trusting,” said Isabelle.

“Because he is an actor himself, he also knows how to highlight actors in the roles he casts them in. I feel so grateful to have explored my character in Chapters One and Two of the saga, but Kevin and I are constantly discussing the character’s growth and evolution through the next chapters, as well. Since he has been working on this for so many years, he knows this story and these characters in such an intimate way.”

The first chapter of the epic “Horizon: An American Saga,” will distributed in the Philippines by Parallax Studios and Saga Film Studios with Axinite Digicinema, and will open in cinemas June 28. Follow Parallax Studios and Saga Film Studios on Facebook for the latest updates on #HorizonAmericanSaga

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