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THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD

About The Production
"Jesse James was bigger than you can imagine. You'd go to him, wanting to be with him, wanting to be like him…and you'd always come away missing something.” - Robert Ford

When writer/director Andrew Dominik read Ron Hansen's novel The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, he was intrigued by some of the same questions that had guided Hansen's years of research into previously unexplored corners of Jesse James' life, and by the insights it offered into the private man behind the public image.

"I didn't know any more about Jesse James or Robert Ford than the average person, but I was drawn into it as a story of people and emotions that were vivid and realistic,” he says. "Who are they? How do they feel? How do they interact with each other? The fact that they happened to be two legendary figures of American history added a level of drama but was really a secondary issue.

"This was a portrait of Robert Ford I had never seen before,” the director reveals. "It gives you a sense of what that event might actually have been like for him—to shoot a man in his own house with Jesse's wife and children nearby and then to wait around for days with a brother who was completely unnerved, and try to deal with the enormity of public reaction. You see his anxiety, his neediness and his ambition and you think, ‘That's probably what it was like.' That's what moved me about the book and what I wanted to capture on screen.”

Brad Pitt, who, in addition to taking on the leading role, is a producer on the film, found it equally compelling to address "the dissection of these myths, of Jesse James as a hero and Robert Ford as a coward.”

"The film offers an intimate portrait of these two men and the world around them that humanizes the legendary outlaw and exposes his vulnerability,” says producer Jules Daly. "Few people even know Robert Ford's real story. For him, it was about a young man's desperation to become everything he wasn't and everything he worshipped.”

Though based upon comprehensive research into the principals, their history and the times in which they lived, the relationship between Jesse James and Robert Ford in the film is speculative and meant more to stir the imagination than impose a point of view.

Says producer Ridley Scott, "The universe of Robert Ford can only be imagined, as can Jesse James' dilemma towards the end of his life, his private thoughts and possible regrets. The film raises questions best answered by each individual in the audience. Andrew poses the possibilities.”

Producer Dede Gardner adds, "The story is authentic in its examination of human behavior, adoration, ego and resentment. What happened between these two men could be applied to countless stories throughout time. The relationship between Jesse James and Robert Ford is about consequences and wishes fulfilled. It's about how someone's adoration for another has to be examined within the context of both their lives and individual needs. Hero worship cannot exist in purity. There are outside influences at work long before the two people in question even meet.”

"It's more a psychological drama than a Western,” says Pitt. "It deals with the anatomy of an assassination and its consequences.” It's this character-driven perspective that makes "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” unlike many dramatizations about the notorious outlaw and his little-known killer. Although the action opens with a nighttime ambush and train robbery typical of the Jame

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