Meet the Magnificent Seven

From Denzel Washington to Chris Pratt, here are the actors taking the roles of the new star-studded Magnificent Seven - but how do they compare to the greats of the classic 1960 version?

By Stefan Pape
Antoine Fuqua, the director helming the eagerly anticipated remake of The Magnificent Seven, shares an affection with the western that’s likely to resonate with filmgoers. It’s a romanticised genre that reminds many of us of lazy Sunday afternoons with grandparents, immersing ourselves in cowboy tales set against the unforgiving landscape of the American Midwest.

But it was more than just the stories that struck a chord with viewers. It was the personalities of the actors. "It goes back to me and my grandmother watching Westerns together," says Fuqua. "She was in love with Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner. During filming, every day that I had a tough day I'd think – would she have fun watching this?”

Do contemporary performers tap into our hearts and imaginations in quite the same way? There’s been a distinct shift in celebrity culture over the years; social media has allowed a certain accessibility to movie stars we once merely gazed at from afar. But everyone loves the underdog; the figure has a timeless appeal – which is something Fuqua uses in The Magnificent Seven to recreate the charm of personalities from the past. Both Magnificent Seven films (Fuqua’s, and the 1960s version) stem from Akira Kurosawa’s underdog tale,
Seven Samurai, in which a small, helpless town is pitted against a seemingly formidable and superior foe. Fuqua’s remake thrives in a similar capacity: Denzel Washington’s character is a black cowboy in a predominantly white, predominantly hostile land, and the Seven come to the rescue of a small town that's being exploited by a corrupt industrialist.

The fact that this new cast is filled with much-loved actors helps maximise this Seven's appeal too, of course. Denzel Washington needs little introduction, and co-star Chris Pratt shares similarities with ‘60s lead Steve McQueen in the way that he demands the viewer's attention at all times. Any question as to whether or not these modern greats have quite the same cultural impact as the former ones is answered as soon as Pratt looks up from beneath his cowboy hat and offers a cheeky wink to camera; maybe things aren't so different after all.

So who exactly are the Magnificent Seven?
Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington)
The brooding hero, Chisolm is a bounty hunter tasked with assembling a band of misfits together to help defeat the nefarious antagonist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard).
Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt)
This smart talker comes equipped with many of the film's best one-liners, and a fair few card tricks to boot.
Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke)
A humble sharpshooter, and the most layered character, Hawke turns in a brilliantly nuanced performance which confirms that the Seven are antiheroes – an archetypal trait of the classic western protagonist.
Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee)
Rocks is Goodnight's right hand man and provider of much needed cash for his travelling showboating act, where he wins stand-offs with just a knife.
Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio)
“A bear wearing people's clothes” is how Faraday describes hunter Jack Horne. He's a seemingly gentle, yet feared giant with a certain vulnerability about him.
Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo)
This outlaw has nothing to lose – much like the film's primary villain. Characters without remorse are often the most engaging and so gloriously unhinged with it.

Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier)
The winner of the man with the coolest name, Red Harvest is a Native American who ensures the traditionalist 'Cowboys and Indians' divide is not a narrative device in this production.
The Magnificent Seven is on sale now.