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The Alamo in our magazines

THE MOVIE: The Alamo

Billy Bob Thornton • Jason Patric • Patrick Wilson
DIRECTOR: John Lee Hancock

The true story of one of the most momentous battles in American history, where a handful of men faced insurmountable odds as they held the fortress known at the Alamo for 13 days against thousands of Mexican soldiers led by dictator General Santa Anna. Among the heroes who died at the Alamo were Jim Bowie (Jason Patric) and Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton), who were legends in their time.

U.S. RELEASE: April 9 2004, Nationwide • Rated: PG-13


Did you grow up wanting to be at the Alamo? THORNTON:
“I think everybody did, in my neighborhood anyway. It was one of the main games we played. Davy Crockett in a way was more like a cartoon character, this larger than life bear hunter, who wore a coonskin hat. I always wanted to be Davy Crockett, and I used to argue with my brother over it. I finally let him be Daniel Boone, and he was satisfied.”

John Lee Hancock says he couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role – do you think that? THORNTON:
“I don’t think so. I think the reason John Lee said he couldn’t imagine doing it without me is every now and then you play a character that has some part of you in it, and this character seem to be, from what I read about Davy Crockett, sort of like (me). He was a guy who liked people and was a storyteller but, at the same time, he had this crazy edge to him. He perpetuated his own legend. I don’t know that I’ve perpetuated mine so much, but people have done it for me. So in that sense I relate. What I really tried to do in this movie was to play him as a regular guy, as opposed to the image we usually have, the John Wayne sort of thing.”

Did you do a lot of research? THORNTON:
“I was given some books by historians on the set. Some of them were very dry but helpful, because they had diaries in them. I think they were more important than anything else, these first-hand accounts.”

Were the battle scenes dangerous to shoot? THORNTON:
“Yeah, the battle scenes were very tricky in this movie. One thing that people don’t understand, they think when you do a movie everything is safe. Well it’s not. I’ve probably been injured in movies more than anyone else, and I was an athlete growing up. People always ask me if I ever do my own stunts, and I say, ‘Not on purpose.’”

Did they give you the coonskin hat? THORNTON:
“They haven’t given it to me yet. But I’m gonna get it, I guarantee you. I’m gonna get that hat, and I’m gonna wear it.”

How did they know how Crockett died? THORNTON:
“It was a diary from the Mexican lieutenant. He actually said that Crockett died by execution, and his exact words were, “Crockett died with courage and dignity and was well-behaved.’ I didn’t play it so well-behaved, but I did that for Texas!”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official The Alamo site
Images above © Touchstone Pictures/Imagine Entertainment
Feature © 2004 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #643, May 2004 cover

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