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About The Production
In making Touchstone Pictures' epic motion picture "Hidalgo,” the filmmakers were excited to have a film that blended spectacular action and adventure with a story of one man's journey of personal redemption. "I think audiences everywhere will connect with the story of Frank Hopkins,” says Casey Silver, producer of "Hidalgo.” "There's an exciting race that frames the story, but the real race is this man's race to find himself, to find forgiveness within himself for his transgressions – the themes are compelling.”

The story of the cowboy Hopkins and his mustang, strangers in a strange land as they become the first American and non-Arabian horse to compete in the toughest endurance race the Mortensen as a man billed as the greatest distance rider the West has ever known.

"Getting a story worth telling is always the most important thing – and sometimes, it's a gigantic challenge,” says Silver. "But screenwriter John Fusco makes it easy. He came in, telling this story that was so important to him – it came right from his gut. I have such an appreciation for his talent and it's an honor to be a part of telling the story he told me.”

More than fifteen years ago, Fusco discovered the kernel that would eventually grow into the film "Hidalgo.” A dedicated student of the American West, Plains Indian culture, and horses, Fusco discovered the story of Hopkins and his mustang while doing conservation work with horses of original Native American bloodlines. "I was doing some research into the classic Indian ponies that you see in Remington and Russell sculptures, and this name kept coming up – Hopkins – who rode a famed Indian pony, named Hidalgo. Reading about them, it led me to this legendary race across the Arabian desert. There was only so much that I could find on them, but it was enough to tell me that this was an incredible story.”

Fusco, who has also written the screenplays for "Thunderheart,” "Young Guns,” "Young Guns II,” and the recent Academy Award®-nominated animated feature, "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,” spent about 12 years researching and writing the screenplay. He referenced 70 years of collected writings on Hopkins and Hidalgo by such noted historians as J. Frank Dobie and Dr. Ruy d'Andrade. He also drew from the oral histories of Native American elders and grassroots ranchers in Wyoming in uncovering the amazing adventure.” Earlier this year, Fusco was awarded his second Western Heritage Award, a research prize from the National Cowboy Museum.

"It's a remarkable story. It requires digging through a lot of historical layers because it's a real gem,” says Fusco.

"Ultimately, this is a classic hero's journey,” says Mortensen, who plays the legendary rider. "Hopkins has to leave his familiar surroundings, and overcome, in a strange place, the obstacles and dangers in his path.

"What's really interesting about the Ocean of Fire race is that it doesn't really matter who wins in the end,” Mortensen continues. "It's a question of getting through it, and what happens to a person as a result of going through that experience.”

To direct the film, Silver tapped Joe Johnston, a director who has showcased his ability to capture emotional intimacy with "October Sky,” epic vision in "Jurassic Park III,” and sheer originality with "Jumanji.” "There are very few directors with the kind of expertise and range that Joe Johnston can bring to a motion picture,” says Silver. "‘Hidalgo' is one of those rare motion pictures that contains all of those elements, and Joe's passion and vision has brought a great true story to life.

"I had hired him to direct ‘October Sky,' but that was the only movie we'd worked on together,” Silver continues. "I don't think anybody could have done a better job with that movie. I think his restraint makes him one of the most underrated American movie directors. I thought that ‘Hidalgo,' in the wrong hands, might b

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