Ed Harris Makes A Classic Western

Four-time Academy Award nominee actor Ed Harris has become a fixture in American films, and his latest, "Appaloosa," may earn him similar acclaim.

Harris sat down with Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith to discuss his role alongside co-star Viggo Mortensen, playing two friends protecting a mining town from the murderous grip of a rancher.

It all began when something unexpected happened to Harris while on vacation, reading a novel for enjoyment called "Appaloosa."

After the first couple of chapters, Harris was hooked.

"I got tickled because the way they (two lawmen who have been riding together for a dozen years) are together and the dialogue is great, the relationship; they have this kind of unspoken affection for one another," Harris said.

Before he finished the book, he called his agent and thought it would be fun to bring the relationship of the two lawmen to the big screen.

Although Harris has a great reputation as an actor in Hollywood, making a Western wasn't an easy task in the modern movie industry.

"It was pretty tough to set it up. But we finally wrangled enough funds to get it done properly," Harris admitted.

The cast also includes Renee Zellwegger, Jeremy Irons and Harris' dad, who plays a critical scene as a judge.

Shot on location in New Mexico, "Appaloosa" feels like a real Western.

"I didn't want to modernize it. I really wanted it to have a classic feel. And we really scouted locations real carefully and really worked hard on the town, the feel of the town. I wanted to feel the people in this time and space," he said.

"Appaloosa" received a warm welcome at the Toronto Film Festival.

"It's a character-driven piece. … The premiere was great. It has a lot of humor in it and people picked up on that," he explained.

Harris co-wrote and produced the film adaptation of the Robert B. Parker western novel. And this marks the second time Harris has served as a director.

"A good buddy of mine who wrote a couple of screen plays and nothing produced, we partnered up and wrote it together and started writing it in January of '06 and took me four or five months, but Parker's novel is … it's written in a way kind of writes itself. He writes the chapters that are kind of brief."

According to Harris, author Parker has a great sense of humor.

Parker attended the premiere and told Harris "Be sure to say you owe it all to the towering novel by Robert B. Parker."

"I said, OK, I will," Harris said.

"Appaloosa" will be out in theaters on Oct. 3 nationwide.
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