Movies

‘Tombstone’ 25 years later: Revisiting the cast of the surprise western hit

“Tombstone” is one of those movies that you rewatch on cable and everyone who shows up gives you a spark of recognition. There’s Val Kilmer giving a scenery-chewing performance as Doc Holliday. There’s John Locke from “Lost,” the villain from “Titanic,” even “Bad Santa.” And is that Charlton Heston?

The film arrived in theaters on Christmas Day 1993 and revisited the true story of a 30-second gunfight on the streets of Tombstone, Ariz., in 1881, one that pits the Earp brothers against the Clantons and McLaurys. Reviews of “Tombstone” were mixed (“unsatisfying and unfulfilling,” Richard Harrington wrote in a Washington Post review), but Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an audience score of 94 percent. And it ended up making $56 million at the box office (on a budget of just $25 million).

Bill Paxton, Kurt Russell, Sam Elliott and Val Kilmer on their walk to the O.K. Corral. (Everett Collection)

“Tombstone” was in a race to theaters against Kevin Costner’s “Wyatt Earp,” which came out six months later. Despite having a bigger budget ($63 million), “Wyatt Earp” didn’t find critical or financial success, making only $25 million at the box office. (“Now we know what they meant by cowpoke,” Rita Kempley wrote in her Post review of the 191-minute film.)

On the 25th anniversary of “Tombstone,” here’s a roundup of 25 notable actors, along with their quotable lines.

(Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Kurt Russell

Role: Wyatt Earp, former lawman in Dodge City who comes to Tombstone to start a business and later adds a federal marshal badge

Also known for: Started as a child actor with Disney in the 1960s and appeared in a pair of John Carpenter cult favorites, “Escape from New York” (1981) as Snake Plissken, and “Big Trouble in Little China” (1986). Earned a Golden Globe nomination for supporting actor in “Silkwood” (1983). Made “Overboard” (1987) with longtime partner Goldie Hawn. Their son was born in 1986 and named Wyatt. Played Herb Brooks, gold-medal hockey coach of Team USA, in “Miracle” (2004). More recent films include “Furious 7” (2015), “The Hateful Eight“ (2015) and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (2017).

Memorable line: “Go ahead, skin it! Skin that smokewagon and see what happens!”

(Sebastian Artz/Getty Images)

Sam Elliott

Role: Virgil Earp, brother of Wyatt and a Tombstone marshal

Also known for: “Mask” (1985) and “Road House” (1989). Later narrated cult favorite “The Big Lebowski” (1998) and appeared in this year’s “A Star is Born,” as the brother of Bradley Cooper’s character and inspiration for his deep drawl.

Memorable line: “If we’re gonna have a future in this town, it’s gotta have some law and order!”

(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Val Kilmer

Role: Wyatt’s friend Doc Holliday, a hard-drinking gambler, sharpshooter and dentist who’s dying of tuberculosis

Also known for: “Top Gun” (1986), “The Doors” (1991), “Heat” (1995), “Batman Forever” (1995) and a lot of direct-to-video films. Creates pop art from his notable roles.

Memorable lines (take your pick): “Evidently Mr. Ringo’s an educated man. Now I really hate him.”

“Nonsense, I have not yet begun to defile myself.”

“Why, Johnny Ringo, you look like somebody just walked over your grave.”

“I stand corrected, Wyatt. You’re an oak.”

“It appears my hypocrisy knows no bounds.”

(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Bill Paxton

Role: Morgan Earp, the younger brother whose killing in a revenge ambush sparks Wyatt’s vendetta against the gang of Cowboys

Also known for: “Weird Science” (1985), “Apollo 13” (1995), “Twister” (1996), “Titanic” (1997) and “Edge of Tomorrow” (2014). Played a polygamist with three wives in the HBO series “Big Love” (2006-2011). Paxton died in 2017.

Memorable line: “Like you said, Wyatt, we’re brothers. Gotta back your brother’s play.”

(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Billy Bob Thornton

Role: Johnny Tyler, who runs the gambling operation in Tombstone before Wyatt takes over

Also known for: Won an Oscar for writing “Sling Blade” (1996); also nominated for best actor in the film and was nominated again as supporting actor in “A Simple Plan” (1998). Played the title role in “Bad Santa” (2003) and now stars in “Goliath” on Amazon.

Memorable line: “Well, for a man that don’t go heeled, you run your mouth kinda reckless, don’t you?” (Wyatt Earp responds: “No need to go heeled to get the bulge on a tub like you.”)

(Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Jon Tenney

Role: Sheriff John Behan, not to be confused with the town marshal

Also known for: Played an FBI agent who’s the husband of Kyra Sedgwick’s character in TBS’s “The Closer” as well as its spinoff, “Major Crimes.” This fall, he appeared in an episode of “The Romanoffs” on Amazon as the husband of Amanda Peet’s character.

Memorable line: “We’re growing. Be as big as San Francisco in a few years, and just as sophisticated.” (Cue street shootout and Holliday’s droll remark: “Very cosmopolitan.”)

(Scott Gries/Getty Images)

John Corbett

Role: Johnny Barnes, one of the Cowboys

Also known for: Many television series, including “Northern Exposure,” “Sex and the City” and “Parenthood.” Also appeared in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (2002) and its sequel. The voice on the Walgreens commercials.

Memorable line: “Wearing that badge don’t make you right.”

(Donald Weber/Getty Images)

Thomas Haden Church

Role: Billy Clanton, one of the Cowboys, killed in gunfight

Also known for: Lowell on the TV series “Wings,” which ran from 1990-1997. Later received an Oscar nomination for supporting actor in “Sideways” (2003).

Memorable line: “Why, it’s the drunk piano player. You’re so drunk, you can’t hit nothin’. In fact, you’re probably seeing double.” (Holliday: “I have two guns, one for each of ya.”)

(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Billy Zane

Role: The traveling Shakespearean actor Mr. Fabian

Also known for: Playing Biff Tannen’s pal Match in “Back to the Future” (1985) and Rose’s fiancé Caledon Hockley in “Titanic” (1997).

Memorable line: “My dear, you’ve set your gaze upon the quintessential frontier type. Note the lean silhouette . . . eyes closed by the sun, though sharp as a hawk. He’s got the look of both predator and prey.” (Josephine Marcus replies: “I want one.” Mr. Fabian: “Happy hunting.”)

(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Michael Biehn

Role: Johnny Ringo, the educated marksman for the Cowboys

Also known for: “The Abyss” (1989). Appeared with Paxton in four other films: “The Lords of Discipline” (1983), “The Terminator” (1984), “Aliens” (1986) and “Navy SEALs” (1990).

Memorable line: “I want your blood. And I want your souls. And I want them both right now!”

(Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images)

Terry O’Quinn

Role: John Clum, mayor of Tombstone

Also known for: Played John Locke in the television series “Lost,” which ran on ABC from 2004-2010.

(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Jason Priestley

Role: Billy Breckinridge, a member of the Cowboys with an appreciation for the arts

Also known for: Nominated for two Golden Globes for playing Brandon Walsh on “Beverly Hills, 90210″ (1990-2000).

Memorable line (while watching Mr. Fabian perform onstage): “I think he’s wonderful.”

(Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Powers Boothe

Role: Curly Bill Brocius, leader of the Cowboys

Also known for: Won an Emmy for TV movie “Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones” (1980). Appeared in “Red Dawn” (1984) and “Nixon” (1995). Played Cy Tolliver in HBO’s “Deadwood” (2004-2006). More recent series included ABC’s “Nashville” (2012-2014) and “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (2015-2016). He died in 2017.

Memorable line: “I feel just capital!”

(Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

Michael Rooker

Role: Sherman McMasters, who switches allegiances and joins Earp on the vendetta ride

Also known for: “Sea of Love” (1989), “JFK” (1991). Appeared as Merle Dixon in AMC’s series “The Walking Dead” (2010-2013), and as Yondu in “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) and its 2017 sequel, with Russell.

(Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)

Dana Delany

Role: Josephine Marcus, actress and Wyatt’s love interest

Also know for: Won two Emmys for lead actress in TV series “China Beach” (1988-1991). Also appeared in ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” (2007-2012) and Amazon’s “Hand of God” (2014-2017).

Memorable line: “I’m a woman. I like men. If that means I’m not ‘ladylike,’ then I guess I’m just not a lady! At least I’m honest.” (Wyatt Earp: “You’re different. No arguin’ that. But you’re a lady all right. I’d take my oath on it.”)

(George De Sota/Getty Images)

Charlton Heston

Role: Rancher Henry Hooker

Also known for: “Ten Commandments” (1956), “Ben-Hur” (1959), “Planet of the Apes” (1968). Five-term president of the National Rifle Association. Died in 2008.

(Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Stephen Lang

Role: Ike Clanton, second in command of the Cowboys

Also known for: Also worked with Elliott in “Gettysburg” (1993) and appeared in “Gods and Generals” (2003) and “Avatar” (2009). Tony nomination for 1992 Broadway production of “The Speed of Darkness.”

Memorable lines: “Listen, Mr. Kansas Law Dog. Law don’t go around here. Savvy?”

(Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Paula Malcomson

Role: Allie Earp, Virgil’s wife

Also known for: Played the wife of the title character in Showtime’s “Ray Donovan” series (2013-2017) and prostitute Trixie on HBO’s “Deadwood” (2004-2006). Appeared as an Other in ABC’s “Lost” in 2006.

Memorable line: Spoken to her, by Virgil, as a doctor prepared to amputate: “Don’t worry, Allie girl. I still got one good arm to hold you with.”

Frank Stallone

Role: Ed Bailey, a gambler killed by Holliday after accusing him of cheating

Also known for: Brother of Sylvester Stallone.

Memorable line: Spoken to him, by Holliday: “Why Ed, does this mean we’re not friends anymore? You know, Ed, if I thought you weren’t my friend . . . I just don’t think I could bear it!”

(Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Dana Wheeler-Nicholson

Role: Mattie Earp, Wyatt’s companion and a former prostitute who’s suffering from an opiate addiction

Also known for: “Fletch” (1985), NBC series “Friday Night Lights” (2007-2011). Overlapped with Boothe in ABC’s “Nashville” (2014-2015).

(David Livingston/Getty Images)

Harry Carey Jr.

Role: Fred White, the town marshal accidentally killed by Curly Bill

Also known for: Carey’s father was a silent-film star who may have introduced director John Ford to Wyatt Earp in the 1920s. (Earp had moved to Hollywood in 1915 and consulted with filmmakers on westerns.) Carey and his father made one movie together, “Red River” (1948), which starred John Wayne. Carey and Wayne worked together on eight other films, including “The Searchers” (1956), directed by Ford. Carey also appeared with Elliott in “Mask” (1985). He died in 2012 at age 91.

Memorable line (following the Latin duel scene between Holliday and Ringo): “Come on, boys. We don’t want any trouble in here. Not in any language.”

(Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Buck Taylor

Role: Turkey Creek Jack Johnson, who rides with Wyatt on the vendetta

Also known for: Played a deputy in the last eight seasons of long-running TV western “Gunsmoke” (1967-75). Also creates poster artwork for festivals and watercolor paintings inspired by his TV and film roles.

Memorable line: (After Texas Jack Vermillion’s question: “Did you ever see anything like that before?”) “Hell, I ain’t never even heard of anything like that.”

Joanna Pacula

Role: Holliday’s lover “Big Nose” Kate

Also known for: Golden Globe nomination for supporting actress in “Gorky Park” (1983). Worked with Steven Seagal in “Marked for Death” (1990). Later appeared in “Virus” (1999).

Memorable line: “Don’t I always take care of you? Nobody cares for you like me. I’m a good woman.” (To which Holliday replies: “Yes, it’s true you are a good woman. Then again, you may be the Antichrist.”)

Gary Clarke

Role: Crawley Dake, a federal marshal trying to recruit the Earps

Also known for: Played Steve Hill in NBC’s “The Virginian” (1962-1964). Appeared with Thornton and Wheeler-Nicholson in “Parkland” (2013).

Memorable line: “I never saw a rich man who didn’t wind up with a guilty conscience.” (Wyatt Earp replies: “Already got a guilty conscience. Might as well have the money, too.”)

(Bob Galbraith/Associated Press)

Robert Mitchum

Role: Narrator, after a fall from a horse kept him from playing Old Man Clanton

Also known for: “Cape Fear” (1962) and ABC miniseries “The Winds of War” (1983). Nominated for best supporting actor Oscar for “Story of G.I. Joe” (1945). He died in 1997.

Memorable line: “Wyatt Earp died in Los Angeles in 1929. Among the pallbearers at his funeral were early western stars William S. Hart and Tom Mix. Tom Mix wept.”

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Credits: By Brian Gross.