Tom Selleck Once Claimed All Actors ‘Want to Make Westerns’: Here’s Why

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images)

From saccharine romantic comedies to gripping dramas, Tom Selleck has done it all. In his nearly six decades in Hollywood, Selleck has helped bring to life some of the most iconic movies and series of the modern age. And of the many genres in which Tom Selleck has worked, Westerns are among his favorites.

In 1997, Tom Selleck was fresh off the set of a brand new Western, Last Stand at Saber River. At this point, Selleck’s unforgettable role in the hit crime drama Magnum P.I. was already behind him, and he was excited to move on to new challenges.

He already had experience in the Western genre with his roles in Concrete Cowboys, The Shadow Riders, and Quigley Down Under, just to name a few. So when Last Stand at Saber River presented itself, Tom Selleck jumped at the opportunity.

According to Selleck, Westerns are an irreplaceable cornerstone of Hollywood. So much so, that every actor wants to have a Western movie credit to their name. “All actors want to make Westerns,” Selleck said, as reported by The Spokesman-Review. “They grew up on them, and they don’t make enough of them.”

Like fairytales, Selleck believes that Westerns provide children with important lessons disguised as entertainment. “I think they’re good for kids,” Selleck said. “Especially when they’re in the classic mode. They should involve a moral dilemma.”

Years later, in an interview with Cowboys & Indians, Tom Selleck gave a bit more insight into why he feels Westerns are so special. “More than any other experience I’ve had in film, these movies create a sense of place,” Selleck said. “Everything in a Western can work for you if you allow it – not spending time in your trailer.”

“Perhaps if you’re just sitting on your horse between takes and staying on the set, you can still kind of experience that lifestyle. There was a real sense of unity between cowboys.”

Tom Selleck Wanted ‘Last Stand’ to Be a ‘Definitive Western’

When it came to creating Last Stand at Saber River, the creators had both a star-studded cast and a breathtaking setting. What they didn’t have, was the budget of a major blockbuster. For Tom Selleck, however, this only further fueled his desire to make the movie a success.

“I wanted it to be a definitive Western,” Selleck explained. “In the world of feature films, we had no money at all, but we had the cast”. The cast (and crew) to which Tom Selleck is referring includes Western icons such as David and Keith Carradine, Harry Carey Jr., and Elmore Leonard, who wrote and published the novel that would become the Tom Selleck film.

Though they had a meager budget to work with, Tom Selleck viewed it as a challenge to be conquered rather than a hindrance. “When you’ve got a limited budget, you have to get your act together,” Selleck said.

Because of the limited budget and remote setting, Tom Selleck and his cast mates performed most of the stunts themselves, including horseback riding, and Selleck loved every moment. In fact, he called filming Last Stand “some of the great days of our lives.”