8 Contemporary Actors Who Should Star in a Western

Throughout the 1950s, the western film genre gained rapid popularity among audiences thanks to iconic names such as John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Gary Cooper, and James Stewart. However, these period pieces took a backseat in the following decades as science fiction, comedy, and horror rose in the rankings. The 1990s attempted to revitalize the genre with the production of Tombstoneand this genre of movie began to reemerge in the cinematic realm.

With the success of newer western films such as The Revenant, Hostiles, Old henryand The Beguiledit is clear that there is still a large audience for the genre. Oscar winners Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, and Nicole Kidman are just a few of the A-List actors who have all taken on western-themed roles in recent years. On top of that, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog revitalized the genre, despite some criticismoffering a reimagined slow-burn western that explored themes like toxic masculinity and queerness. Here are 8 more contemporary actors who should star in a western movie.

Related: Here’s What to Watch If You Liked The Power of the Dog

8 Jai Courtney

Jai Courtney in Suicide Squad
DC Films

Hailing from Australia, Jai Courtney may just be one of the most underrated actors who deserves more time in the spotlight. His big break came in 2010 when he was cast as Varro in the hit Starz television series Spartacus. Portraying a volunteer gladiator paid off well as Courtney went on to star alongside Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher in 2012 and Bruce Willis in Live Free or Die Hard the next year. He also snatched up the role of Eric in the Divergent series, and then he went on to play the iconic role of Kyle Reese in Terminator Genisys alongside Emilia Clark and Arnold Schwarzenegger. DC Comics fans will also recognize him as Boomerang in Suicide Squad. With so many “tough guy” characters under his belt, Courtney would fit into a western plotline beautifully.

7 Gary Oldman

Gary Oldman as James Gordon
Warner Bros.

As one of the most versatile actors in the industry, Gary Oldman has proven himself to be quite capable of portraying both misunderstood heroes and chaotic villains. Although his filmography contains more than 100 acting credits, some of his most memorable roles include Dracula in Bram Stoker’s DraculaCare in The Fifth ElementJim Gordon in Batman Beginsand, of course, Sirius Black in the Harry Potter franchise. These are just to scratch the surface of his works. If anyone made a fantastic bad guy in a black cowboy hat, it would be Oldman. Based on his performance as Zorg, it is obvious that he already has the accent down pat.

6 Andrew Lincoln

The Walking Dead Creator Confirms Andrew Lincoln's Exit in Season 9

Another Brit who would do well in a western film is Andrew Lincoln. Although he has been acting since the mid-90s, Lincoln became a household name after his starring role in the hit AMC television series The Walking Dead. Portraying an injured sheriff desperately trying to find his family in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, Lincoln fully immersed himself in the character of Rick Grimes. While the character does give off a hint of western charm with the heavy accent, the hat, and the somehow always smooth saunter, this undead-slaying show is nothing like a western. However, it was great practice for him to be cast in a western in the future. As of now, Lincoln is working on The Walking Dead Movie which is still untitled.

5 Ben Barnes

Ben Barnes in Westworld
HBO Entertainment

Exploding onto the scene in 2008 as Prince Caspian in the second installment of The Chronicles of Narnia series, Ben Barnes has become an extremely versatile and dedicated actor with arguably one of the most loyal fandoms around. There is even a push from his fans to grant Barnes the role of Young Sirius Black in any Harry Potter prequels that may come to light in the future. He has starred in several fantasy films and television shows such as Stardust, The Seventh Sonand most recently Shadow & Bone, which is currently filming its second season for Netflix. However, he also has experience with characters that gently touch on western themes like Sam Adams in the TV miniseries Sons of Liberty and Logan on Westworld. Even his character Billy Russo in the Netflix series The Punisher gave a nod to the real-life western outlaw Billy the Kid. With all of this experience, he would make a great addition to any traditional western film.

4 Karl Urban

Amazon Studios

Another versatile actor who would perform well in a western is Karl Urban. Hailing from New Zealand, his career began in the early 90s. He tackled several unique characters for the iconic television show Xena: Warrior Princess alongside Lucy Lawless, which allowed him to hit the ground running with a multitude of performances under one title. However, his big break came with the role of Eomer in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Next up were several badass roles in films such as The Chronicles of Riddick, The Bourne Supremacy, Doomand Pathfinder. He even has experience with revitalizing old characters as he did with Judge Dredd in the 2012 remake of Dredd. His closest role to a conventional western; however, can be seen in his part as Black Hat in the 2011 film Priest with Paul Bettany and Maggie Q. There is no doubt that he could command quite a presence in a new western movie.

Related: Best Western Movies of All Time, Ranked

3 Helen Mirren


No western film cast would be complete with a strong female character, and there is no one better to portray a gun-slinging lass than Helen Mirren. Out of this entire list, she has the longest-running career with titles dating back to the 1960s. Some of her most recognizable works include the more recent films like The Queen, Inkheart, Catherine the Great, Winchester, Saveand Red 2. It is no secret that she is well-versed in period dramas. With that in mind, she is also capable of portraying a deadly assassin as she did alongside Bruce Willis in the Save films. Combining the two characteristic for a no-nonsense lady in a new western film would be the perfect treat for audiences.

2 Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender in Alien: Covenant
20th Century Fox

Another European actor who could easily fit into an Old West film is Michael Fassbender. While his acting career began in 2000, his big break came with the role of Erik Lensherr / Magneto in the 2011 continuation of the popular X-Men franchise. He reprised the role of Young Magneto in the next three installments and will most likely continue playing this character if more movies are put into production in the future. Fans may also recognize him from Prometheus and Alien: Covenant as the evil robot known as David. Fassbender has the art of playing a villain down to a precise art, and he would make a great addition to any western film.

1 Shane West

Shane West in Salem
Beetlecod Productions

As the only American actor to make the cut, Shane West is a solid pick for a new western film. Although his career began in the late-90s with several small TV roles such as a guest appearance on Buffy the Vampire Slayerhis rise to fame occurred after his portrayal of Landon in the iconic Nicholas Sparks film A Walk to Remember. West then went on to star alongside Sean Connery in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen where he played the famous Tom Sawyer. He also produced and starred in What We Do Is Secret playing the rock legend Darby Crash. Switching to television for a while, he landed roles on hit series such as Nikita, Salemand Gotham. Most recently, he has moved back into film and has several movies set to release soon, including Chariot and Escape the Field. Adding West to the cast of a new western movie as a heroic character would be a natural choice.


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