Interview: Stuart Townsend on ‘Apache Junction’, Character Wardrobe and His Flawless American Accent

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Stuart Townsend Interview Apache Junction

Stuart Townsend stars as Jericho Ford in writer/director Justin Lee’s new film, the western Apache Junction. Ford, an infamous gunslinger, comes to the aid of a reporter (Scout Taylor-Compton) who has become the target of a band of outlaws who want to stop her from writing about the notorious town.

In this interview, Townsend, who has starred in Queen Of The Damned, Alan Moore’s The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen and last year’s Grace & Grit, talks about Apache Junction, how wardrobe can inform a character, finding that perfect entrance and his flawless American accent.

For the full interview, check out the video below or on YouTube. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.

Do you watch everything you do?

Stuart Townsend:  Most of it, yeah. But strangely enough, you don’t really get the sense of the movie. Sometimes they’ll send it digitally, but on this one they didn’t. I didn’t ask either, I’m not very good at that stuff, but you know, I’m going to pay the money. I’m going to up the box office. I’m going to do my part.

For the full interview, check out the video below or on YouTube. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.

Is this your first Western?

Stuart Townsend:  It is.

I would just absolutely love to do a Western.

Stuart Townsend:  Me too. I’ve been waiting decades. It’s one of those things, you know, it’s a childhood dream, essentially, come true.

Are you the kind of actor who puts on their wardrobe in the morning and you’re like, “This is it. I know what I’m doing and who I am.”

Stuart Townsend:  Costume is really important, I think. But I would say particularly so for a Western, because you’ve got the guns and the studs and the, you know, you’ve got all that extra stuff and a hat.

And, and the costume was really like, it took a while to find that costume. I remember going in for my fitting and they stenciled in like two hours for the fitting. And I think it took five hours. I ransacked the whole costume house and probably tried on about 500 hats.

I think I have an image of Jericho Ford in my head and then the costume designer has an image and you try and meet. And she was great. I mean, I thought she did a great job and really gave the characters a lived in feel and authenticity.

But the hat took a while. I was going to go with this fedora hat and you know, it was the best of the bunch. The other two hats were really horrible. The day before shooting [director Justin Lee]comes up and he’s like, “Listen, the hat…  no. It’s a fedora. It’s not from the time period.” And I was like, “Okay, but here’s the other two.” And he was like, “…yeah. What are we going to do?” And I’m like, “I don’t know.”

And it was probably like four o’clock in the evening and I just went to Santa Fe and started just going to every hat store I could find. And luckily Santa Fe is a kind of a Western town, so there was cowboy hats. And I found a hat the next morning and they kind of tailored it a little bit. And I think about an hour before we went on set, put on the hat.

And it was nice, cause I went into my trailer, got all the gear on and you know, like you said, the costumes important, but when it’s a Western, you’re putting on the waist coat and the belt and it’s just that bit more.

And once I finally got the hat on, I went out and Justin saw me, and he was like, “There’s Jericho.” And I felt like the hat really made character.

How did how did the part come to you? Because it was a Western, did that sort of help?

Stuart Townsend:  Yeah. I mean, no one’s ever thought of me for a Western, but I worked with the producer Daemon Hillin. We did like a Thai mafia gangster movie about nine years ago and we had a great time and for some reason he thought of me, And yeah, the script came through and I just read the name Jericho Ford, and I’m like, “I’m in.”

And I loved it. It’s like a straight up, shoot them up classic Western. There’s no aliens. It’s not some sort of play on westerns, it’s just a straight up Western. I also really liked that it was a female protagonist going in search of the truth in this outlaw town. I thought that was a kind of an interesting conceit.

You guys filmed this in in New Mexico. How was that?

Stuart Townsend:  Yeah, it was weird cause we filmed in New Mexico, which is beautiful and then COVID hit. And like every single day, it was like, “France is closed down? What do you mean France is closed down? What do you mean Italy’s closed down?” And I could just feel this dread of like, “We’re not going to finish this movie.” And we didn’t finish it. We shut down.

So, it was pretty weird because then nine months later we picked it back up and I’m like 10 pounds heavier and everybody’s traumatized and we’re wearing masks and getting tested. And it was pretty strange, you know, having this new world foisted upon us and then going back into a Western.

But I definitely felt like westerns are gonna be things that Americans want to see right now because who wants to watch a dystopian zombie movie, you know? Just look outside and it’s there. Whereas westerns are, in a sense, it’s the mythological American story of the pioneering spirit and freedom. It really is the backbone of the American mythology. And so I just personally feel like people are going to want to watch westerns right now, just to get back to that sense of freedom that is being so taken away, you know, in many respects.

Your character has a really fun entrance and kind of really sets the tone for him throughout the film. How much thought goes into setting up those first few moments of your character?

Stuart Townsend:  I mean, gosh, when you read the script as an actor, you’re definitely looking at, okay, how’s this character set up? And obviously with Jericho, Justin was looking to create this kind of mysterious and somewhat badass character. So as an actor, you’re like, “This is great. I have an entrance with a bar brawl, it sets him up straight away as this tough guy.” And obviously as an actor, you’re looking for that. You’re like, “This is wonderful. I get to be this guy.” He’s written on the page like that and now I get to go and I get to fight this huge guy and I get to win.

Your American accent is flawless. I mean, you’ve been doing it for years and on various projects but do you still have to work on it? Do you like work with a voice coach?

Stuart Townsend: It depends on the job. Like if I was doing a Boston accent, I don’t know how to do that accent. So, I would, get help. With the Western, I kind of winged it. I mean, I’ve just watched so many westerns. I think it’s an amalgamation of, you know, 20 different characters.

And it’s also to do with the writing. Justin wrote it, he loves westerns and I think he wrote the character very well, where you weren’t fighting the dialogue. The dialogue, it just kind of tripped off the tongue pretty easily.

I remember doing a Tennessee Williams show, where I played a Southern guy and this was in my twenties when I hadn’t lived in America or anything. But again, it was kind of an easy role to fit into acting-wise because Tennessee Williams is a genius and every single character had their own dialect, even though they were all Southern. You could tell like this character came from the town down the road, it was that specific.

And so, it’s a bit like that. When a character is well-written, you don’t have to fight it. You don’t have to find it. It’s kind of inherent there. So yeah, I didn’t have to think about the accent too much. But if I had to play Boston or New York, like something that I’m not familiar with, yes, of course I would get help.

Apache Junction is available on most streaming platforms, including Amazon.

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