‘Old Henry’ Star Tim Blake Nelson Reveals His Favorite Westerns

by Amanda Glover
(Photo by Dia Dipasupil/WireImage)

If Tim Blake loves westerns as much as we do, he has the makings of becoming a true Outsider.

Filmmaker and actor Tim Blake Nelson takes the screen in the western drama Old Henry. In the film, he plays a man driven to extremes to protect his son in early 1900s Oklahoma.

In an interview with Variety, Nelson is asked what about the script drew him in. Believe it or not, it was the western theme.

“I’ve always loved Westerns. It was a true meat-and-potatoes take on the genre. But my main connection to the material was as a dad, as I’ve got three ornery kids in New York City, two of whom are in college. Raising kids is tough because you always want to shield them from the challenges of the world. I loved how Potsy’s script examined the real tension that comes with parenthood and how parents always have to decide how much of the real world they should be exposing their children to.”

Variety interviewers wondered exactly what we wondered: What are some of Tim Blake Nelson’s favorite westerns?

“Growing up in Oklahoma, the Sergio Leone movies had a tremendous influence on me. Invariably, one of his films was always playing on television on Saturday or Sunday when I was a kid. This was back when there were only four channels to pick from. His films were my introduction to cinema as an art form, because in every Leone picture, the way he shot them, they were entirely subjective experiences. I think he pushed the western genre to a place where nobody had gone before. And I am very much a student of the films of Howard Hawks and John Ford and many others. But nobody had the same impact on the Western genre, on the whole, as Leone.”

Tim Blake Nelson Believes Westerns Will Never Die Out

The Old Henry actor believes westerns still have much to say about the American experience. Like Tim Blake Nelson, we believe westerns will never change, only improve as time goes on.

In an interview with Deadline, Nelson discusses what westerns mean to Americans.

“I think our relationship to the Western is permanent. There’s never going to be a divorce. It will always be with us. I think it’s a quintessentially American genre, inside of a quintessentially American art form. The reason it’s so specific to America is that the Western deals with American westward expansion, and that’s because we’re a young country, tied up with the gun. As opposed to in Europe, where borders were drawn, mostly with swords and the mace. Then you have the Western hero, who’s an individualist, and that again, I think is very American, because we are obsessed with individual rights here, as opposed to in Europe where it’s more of a collectivist approach.”