On This Day: Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings ‘Stagecoach’ Remake Debuts in 1986

by Clayton Edwards
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If you’re going to remake a classic film, you have to do it right. This is especially true if the movie you’re remaking is a major landmark in cinematic history. The folks behind the 1986 remake of Stagecoach must have had that in mind while casting the lead roles.

The made-for-TV remake stars none other than The Highwaymen. Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson all signed on to ride the coach through Apache territory.

The original Stagecoach came out in 1939 and is a major milestone in the history of American cinema. The film made John Wayne a movie star. The Duke had been in a whole slew of movies but had never truly reached major recognition. However, after starring in the Oscar-winning film, everyone took notice of the big cowboy. From there, he would go on to become one of the most iconic American actors.

At the same time, the production team behind Stagecoach remake knew they had to make some changes to the original plot. After all, no one wants to see a shot-for-shot remake, no matter how cool it is to see The Highwaymen in a movie. They started with one major character change. In the original film, Thomas Mitchell played Dr. Josiah “Doc,” Boone. Meanwhile, Willie Nelson plays Doc Holliday in the remake. Willie is an icon as well as a co-executive producer on the film, according to IMDb. So, it makes sense that he was given the role of a legendary Wild West figure.

There are a couple of other departures from the original Stagecoach as well. For one, Waylon Jennings plays Hatfield, a gambler. That character dies in the original film. However, he lives in the remake. Also, Kris Kristofferson plays Ringo, the role that made John Wayne famous. In the original movie, Ringo is an outlaw who broke out of jail and is on the run. In the 1986 version, Ringo is an innocent man.

More ‘Stagecoach’ Trivia

The Highwaymen weren’t the only Outlaw Country stars in the Stagecoach remake. Jessi Colter, Waylon’s wife, appears in the film as well. She plays Martha. You can hear a couple of her songs on the platinum-selling Wanted! The Outlaws along with Waylon, Willie, and Tompall Glaser. While not an Outlaw figure, it is interesting to note that June Carter-Cash also appears in the film as Mrs. Pickett.

The remake of Stagecoach also has a couple of connections to Dukes of Hazzard. For starters, John Schneider plays the coach’s driver, Buck. TV fans know him best as Bo Duke. Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter both appeared in the classic TV show. Waylon also performed the theme song and served as the show’s narrator. The connections don’t end there, though. Willie Nelson played Uncle Jesse in the 2005 film based on the series.

Kris Kristofferson had a pretty successful acting career before his role in Stagecoach. However, his lead role in the disastrous Heaven’s Gate (1980) cost him his movie-star status.

Outsider.com