Tommy Lee Jones To Remake The Cowboys

Walking a mile in John Wayne's boots

Tommy Lee Jones' The Homesman is only just in post-production at Luc Besson's Europacorp, but it seems that the actor/director is of a mind to stay in Western territory. Warner Bros. have just announced that Jones is now developing a remake of The Cowboys, the 1972 film that starred The Duke himself, John Wayne.

The original, directed by Mark Rydell, was one of Wayne's final films, made only four years before his death. It co-starred Bruce Dern and Western stalwart Slim Pickens, but the cowboys of the title are the schoolkids that Wayne reluctantly recruits for a cattle drive. As the journey progresses, the boys learn to become men - as long as your definition of "becoming a man" is "learning to fight". The film spun off into a short-lived TV series in 1974.

The Homesman aside, Jones is of course no stranger to the Western, having starred in the classic mini-series Lonesome Dove, Ron Howard's The Missing, and modern-day variations like the Coen Brothers' No Country For Old Men and his own The Three Burials Of Melquidas Estrada. He also attempted for some years to get a film of Cormac McCarthy's brutal Blood Meridian on screen.

It's not yet clear whether Jones himself will be starring in The Cowboys or just taking a behind-the-camera role, but the gruff frontiersman with the soft centre seems like a perfect fit for him. Maybe there's scope for Bruce Dern to make a reappearance too.

Lynn Harris (Seven, Magnolia, Blade) is overseeing this for Warners, and the project is still officially in development, so there's no start date quite yet.