In Slow West, Michael Fassbender plays a 19th-century bounty hunter with the deadpan Western name of Silas Selleck. He meets a young Scottish man called Jay Cavendish (Smit-McPhee), who’s traveling across the Colorado frontier in search of a girl he loves. “[Silas] helps him on his journey through the Western world,” says Smit-McPhee in an EW exclusive featurette.
And the Western world that first-time writer-director John Maclean (former keyboardist for the ’90s British group Beta Band) creates in Slow West is just that—another world. Maclean recently told EW, “When you’re writing a coming-of-age story, you can’t help but embrace certain fairy-tale feelings and talk about the stars and the moon and the forest. It’s all seen through the eyes of a boy, and all those things make more sense in this film.”
One of the ways that the movie feels slightly otherworldly has to do with Maclean’s unorthodox choice of filming location. In an unusual move—and possibly a first for an American-set Western—the movie was shot entirely in New Zealand. “It had all the landscapes you’d find in Colorado but just a few miles from each other,” said Maclean. “That environment gave us the perfect dreamworld.”
Check out those New Zealand vistas, in addition to Fassbender and Smit-McPhee, in the above clip. Slow West, which EW’s film critic Chris Nashawaty calls “haunting, lyrical, and brutal” in his review, opens in theaters tomorrow and is currently available for download via DirecTV.