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Remembrances by Bill Wittliff

Remembrances of Lonesome Dove, by Bill Wittliff
From the Afterward of A Book of Photographs of Lonesome Dove

“Every once in a while the movie god points his finger through the clouds and says, Okay, I’ll give you a little help on this one. How else could we have assembled a cast that included Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Diane Lane, Angelica Huston, Danny Glover, Tim Scott, Barry Corbin, Glenn Headly, Robert Urich, Rick Schroder, Chris Cooper, and all the others? I could go on and on. The point is we were much blessed from beginning to end.”

“It’s something of a miracle that Lonesome Dove got made at all. At the time (1988) the only thing deader than the western was the miniseries—and of course Lonesome Dove was both.”

“I got a few letters asking me (as scriptwriter) not to let Gus die in the miniseries as Larry had in his book. But I got many, many more begging me not to let the cowboys eat the two pigs once they got to Montana.”

“I always tried to photograph the actors in character. The transformation was astonishing. The great ones somehow really do inhabit the characters they play. I remember Deet’s death scene: Danny Glover’s eyes really did glass over, just as written.”

“Tim Scott used to ride out to the set with me. One morning we stopped at a 7-Eleven for a couple of coffees to go. There was a stack of those little cardboard cameras on the counter. Tim asked the lady what they were. She told him they were disposable cameras. Disposable cameras, huh, he said. Well, I better have one. He paid her and she handed him a camera. He tossed it into the trashcan and we walked out.”

“I remember watching the Hat Creek Outfit coming over a treeless rise with the herd, maybe a half mile or so away. In a little while I could hear the bellowing of the cattle, the shouts of men moving them along, the dry squeak of the wheels on the chuck wagon. Then somebody suddenly shouted, CUT. I turned to see trucks, cameras, lights, scores of people, and my first thought was, now where’n the hell’d all this come from?”