If you ask Matt Damon if there’s any movie that got away, one that he held close to chest but didn’t work out, the answer will always be the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy‘s “All The Pretty Horses.” For years, the actor has expressed his dismay about what happened on the Billy Bob Thornton directed movie. Essentially, what happened was Harvey Weinstein. As per usual, the producer elbowed his way into the creative process, forcing Thornton to cut down the epic length of his film, which ran over three hours long, and most egregiously, replaced the score by Daniel Lanois with something by Marty Stuart. The result was a middling compromise, and a star-studded misfire, and it’s one that haunts Damon more than fifteen years after the butchered version was released.
“[The 2000 Cormac McCarthy novel adaptation ‘All the Pretty Horses’] failed the critics and failed to find the audience. I’m not over it 18 years later or whatever it is, so I’m just clearly never gonna get over it. It really fucking depresses me,” the actor told GQ. “I only saw Billy [Bob Thornton]’s cut once, and I just remember feeling like ‘Oh, my God, this is the best thing I’ve ever been a part of.’ It was Daniel Lanois’ music that did it — it was all Daniel on this old guitar.”
Damon is referring to Lanois composing the score on an electric guitar from 1949, the setting of the novel, and the year they first started becoming popular, marking a significant musical accompaniment to a story about the struggle to hang onto tradition. And seeing the movie slowly come apart due to studio interference crushed Damon.
“I was in Paris working on ‘The Bourne Identity,’ and every night after work, I’d come home and I’d have a conference call with Harvey and Billy Bob. I would pace in this living room in this apartment I’d rented as I was talking to them,” he said. “Billy’s heart was fucking breaking. [When] he relented, he said, ‘Harvey, I have a chance to do four, maybe five great things before I die. And what I’m hearing you say to me is this isn’t gonna be one of them.’ And my knees literally buckled.”
In the years since, Weinstein has offered to restore Thornton’s vision and release the movie, but there has been one significant roadblock to that happening — Daniel Lanois.
“They did offer us the opportunity to put [my cut] out on DVD with the original music. But Dan felt like, ‘If my music wasn’t good enough for them to put in the movie, then I don’t know if I wanna put it in there on the DVD,’ so I stood by him. I’m not gonna ever go side against an artist,” Thornton explained.
However, you can still cling to some small sliver of hope as Weinstein says, “…time softens everyone. It’s time to re-approach him.”
Fingers crossed, because we’d love for this story to finally have a happy ending.